State Sen. Bob Wieckowski at the Oro Loma 
Sanitary District waste water plant in April.

Levying tax would be voluntary and fund conservation efforts

STATE SENATE | DISTRICT 10 | With California in the midst of a worsening drought, Fremont State Sen. Bob Wieckowski is proposing an excise tax to punish water wasters across the state.

An urgency bill introduced Wednesday would give local water agencies the power to tax excessive water users up to 300 percent the cost of water to the district.

However, Wieckowski’s bill would not make the punitive tax mandatory, but voluntary, and allow for the revenues to be split between the local water district and the State Water Resources Control Board. In addition, all the revenues from the excise tax would be used to fund additional water conservation efforts.

Earlier this spring, Gov. Jerry Brown called on the state to reduce water use by 25 percent. Last month, farmers in Sacramento and San Joaquin County agreed to give up a quarter of their allocated water in exchange for assurances from the state it would not impose further limits on their water use.

Wieckowski said Senate Bill 789 is another tool for local governments to reduce water use as the state struggles toward its fifth year of drought.
“There is no excuse for excessive water use,” said Wieckowski in a statement. “Whether it is mega-mansions keeping their lawns lush and green, bottled water companies buying a town’s water cheap and selling for large profit, or companies using way too much water in the production of their goods or services, local entities should have the ability to charge them appropriately for their wasteful consumption.”