State Senator Bob Hertzberg states the obvious when he says that California needs to increase its water supply. But for decades, instead of working to meet California’s need for more water, the majority party in Sacramento has done nothing but saddle California taxpayers with bond debt.
Voters were told these bonds would expand water supply. Only with the last several years of drought did we find out that no new water sources or water storage facilities were ever built. Consequently, the shortage got so bad that last year we were forced to ration water.
True to form, Hertzberg’s Senate Bill 231 does nothing to increase California’s water supply. In fact, it does the exact opposite. It ensures that a potential source of new water will be wasted.
Our recent winter saw enough rain fall from the sky to serve California’s water needs for years. But instead of capturing and storing that water for domestic and agricultural use, we allowed most of it, millions and millions of acre-feet, to flow out into the ocean.
This gross water waste is unnecessary. Proposition 218, approved by voters in 1996, allows local and regional governments to build infrastructure to capture, store, treat, and distribute storm water and to charge users for the costs without seeking any additional voter approval.
Proposition 218 does not allow the government to charge a fee when it wastes storm water by just funneling it into the ocean. And that makes perfect sense. Should a restaurant charge your credit card for food it could not serve because it was dumped in the garbage? Of course not. Then why should government be allowed to charge your account for water it could not serve because it was dumped in the ocean?
As you can see, existing law creates an incentive for local and regional governments to capture, store, treat, and deliver storm water to their customers. Because when storm water is regarded as a resource, rather than a nuisance, the government can charge us for it.
Hertzberg’s bill will change that. It will allow local and regional governments to start charging us for what they do today – for wasting storm water by dumping most of it in the ocean. Under Hertzberg’s bill, they need not build any new catch basins, pipes, or storage tanks. Why would they, when they can just add a big fat increase to our bills for doing nothing? Rather than seeking an increase in our water supply, Sen. Hertzberg is seeking an increase in government’s money supply.
Sen. Hertzberg believes voters are gullible. His bill will raise rates for the purpose of killing the existing incentive for government to add water supply. It will guarantee more drought in the future.
But if voters stay informed, they won’t be fooled. Just look at the blowback the majority party – including Sen. Hertzberg – is getting from the just passed transportation taxes including the new tax on gasoline and a big hike in the annual vehicle registration fee. The bill says the money will be used for roads … unless they need it for something else! The bill actually says that.
Do you believe that the new gas taxes supported by Sen. Hertzberg will result in traffic relief? Do you believe that new charges on your utility bill will result in more water supply? We don’t either.
Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.