State Legislature Back in Session

The California State Legislature has reconvened for the 2018 Legislative Session.

Below are the bills we’re currently tracking:

Making Conservation a California Way of Life” Bills: AB 1323 (Weber, Friedman, Eduardo Garcia, Rubio), AB 1668 (Friedman, Hertzberg, Skinner), SB 606 (Friedman, Hertzberg, Skinner). All three bills are vehicles for the implementation of Governor Brown’s Executive Order B-37-16 which directed the State Water Board, the Department of Water Resources (DWR), the Department of Food and Agriculture, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), and the California Energy Commission (CEC) to take actions focusing on using water wisely, eliminating water waste, strengthening local drought resilience, and improving ag efficiency and planning. Of the three bills, AB 1323 is considered the “compromise” bill as it would require a stakeholder workgroup to develop, evaluate, and recommend proposals for establishing new water use targets for urban water suppliers and to report to the Governor and the Legislature by December 2019. To date, no action has been taken on the bills.  

SB 623 (Monning) Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund: Would establish the state’s first tax on drinking water to fund safe drinking water solutions for disadvantaged communities. The bill received overwhelming opposition from Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) during last year’s session, but the bill’s author, Senator Bill Monning, and the bill’s principal sponsor, the Community Water Center, are committed to moving the bill forward.

ACA 21 (Mayes, Obernolte) Infrastructure Funding: Would create the California Infrastructure Investment Fund. The measure would require, for the 2019–20 fiscal year and each fiscal year thereafter – the amounts in the fund to be allocated to specified infrastructure investments, including the funding of deferred maintenance projects; including new water infrastructure projects. Estimate: $2.4 to $2.8 billion in annual funding.

Governor Brown Releases His 2018-19 Budget

On Wednesday, January 10th, Governor Brown released his 2018-19 budget.

Among his budget priorities are (1) SB 5; and (2) the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund.

SB 5 (Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection and Outdoor Access for All bond). The measure was passed during last year’s session and will go before voters on the June ballot. The measure includes $84 million for groundwater treatment (remediation to reduce contamination for groundwater that serves as drinking water);

Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund (consistent with the language in SB 623) – the Governor’s budget proposes $4.7 million in 2018-19 for the State Water Board and Dept. of Food and Ag. to take initial steps toward the implementation of this new program, including:

  • Developing and implementing fee collection systems;
  • Conducting an assessment to estimate the level of funding needed to assist water systems in the state;
  • Developing and making available a map of high-risk aquifers used as drinking water sources.

For the full summary, click here.

Guidance Manual for Consumer Confidence Reports

The State Water Resources Control Board Division of Drinking Water (DDW) has released the 2018 Guidance Manual to help with preparation of Consumer Confidence Reports, which are due July 1, 2018

To download the CCR Guidance for Water Suppliers, click here.  The highlighted changes within the Guidance Manual address the new Maximum Contaminant Level for 1,2,3-TCP and reporting Hexavalent Chromium results from 2017.

For detailed information on reporting on Hexavalent Chromium, click here.

Upcoming AWWA Classes Throughout California

The California-Nevada Section of the American Water Works Association (AWWA) has just announced several educational opportunities across the state.

Workshops include:

  • Business Writing for Water Professionals
  • Backflow Refresher
  • Water Use Efficiency Grade 2
  • Cross Connection
  • Budget 101
  • Chloramines, Colorimeters & Sample Collection
  • Water Sampling
  • Use and Care of the Hach PCII

For the full listing of 2018 courses (and to register for a workshop), click here.

2018 Legislative Priorities

Mandating Compliance Periods in the Adoption of New MCL’s

In July, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) adopted a standard of 5 parts per trillion (ppt) maximum contaminant level (MCL) for 1,2,3-TCP with monitoring beginning in the first quarter of 2018. During the State Board’s hearing regarding the adoption of the new standard (and in its comment letter HERE), CalMutuals urged the State Board to implement a compliance period that took into account time needed to recover monies from the responsible parties, design, permit, and acquire land to implement a treatment system. Instead, the State Board adopted the regulation at 5 ppt exposing affected systems to litigation by third parties. CalMutuals is pursuing legislation that will mandate the State Board to implement compliance periods in the adoption of new MCLs. If your system is impacted by 1,2,3-TCP, please contact us. Your engagement is crucial to our success!

Tax Exemption for Mutual Water Companies: Equivalent to IRS Code 501(c)(12)

The Revenue and Taxation code 501(c)(12) does not currently provide for an overall “tax exemption” that would satisfy a mutual water company to be “tax exempt” under California law. This has led to confusion among some mutual water companies, resulting in delays in the distribution of grant funding because the mutual water companies are not able to demonstrate tax-exempt status at the state level. CalMutuals is seeking a sponsor for legislation that would implement an exemption that is equivalent to the Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(12).

Joining a Committee – Stay Informed and Engaged

Water continues to be an important issue for the legislature. We began the year with 65 potentially impactful bills. Of the 65 bills, CalMutuals took action on 6 pieces of legislation that would have impacted mutual water company operations. We anticipate many more water-related bills in 2018. We encourage members to join our Legislative and/or Regulatory Affairs Committee. The committees meet by phone monthly to review, discuss and formulate positions and take action on issues of interest.

To learn more about our 2018 legislative priorities, or committees, please contact Denise Peralta Gailey at Denise@CalMutuals.org

State Adoption of 1,2,3-Trichloropropane MCL

The State Water Board has issued a letter regarding the new regulation, establishing a minimum contaminate level (MCL), monitoring frequencies, and other requirements for 1,2,3-Trichloropropane (1,2,3-TCP).

The letter includes website resources, a summary of the new regulation, and monitoring/reporting requirements by community and nontransient-noncommunity water systems.

To download the letter, click here.

CalMutuals Directors and Staff Provide Public Comments During SWRCB & CPUC Consolidation Workshop

On November 13th, CalMutuals Vice President Dave Armstrong, Director Jim Byerrum, California Domestic Water Company Vice President Lynda Noriega, and Executive Director Adan Ortega attended the State Water Resources Control Board’s (SWRCB or the “Water Board”) and California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) joint workshop on water system consolidation and the proposed “drinking water fee” legislation (SB 623) in Sacramento.

SWRCB staff provided an overview of the number of water systems currently in violation of safe drinking water standards and the first “compliance warning signs;” including: monitoring violations, lack of technical capacity and financial challenges. To review the State Board’s Fact Sheet on mandatory consolidations, click here.

CalMutuals representatives provided public comments regarding the important role and contributions made by mutual water companies statewide in ensuring access to safe and affordable drinking water for many of the state’s residents. CalMutuals will continue to track the State Board’s and CPUC’s efforts on consolidation to ensure that mutual water companies are not unnecessarily or unfairly targeted for consolidation.

In addition to the State Board’s and CPUC’s presentation on consolidation, attendees received information regarding SB 623 (Monning) a bill sponsored by the Community Water Center, a Visalia-based non-profit, that if passed would establish the state’s first tax on drinking water to fund safe drinking water solutions for disadvantaged communities. SB 623 is a two-year bill and will be reintroduced during the 2018 legislative session.

We will continue to keep our members apprised on both issues.

State Water Board Releases Water Waste Regulation Proposal

In response to Governor Brown’s executive orders B-37-16 and B-40-17, the State Water Board has released its draft of a new proposed regulation which would prohibit the following wasteful water use practices:

  • The application of water to outdoor landscapes in a manner that causes runoff;
  • The use of a hose to wash an automobile except where the hose is equipped with a shut-off nozzle;
  • The application of potable water to hardscapes;
  • The use of potable water in non-recirculating ornamental fountains or other decorative water features;
  • The application of water to outdoor landscapes during or within 48-hours after measurable rainfall; and
  • The irrigation of turf on public street medians and verges unless the turf serves a community or neighborhood function.

In addition, the proposed regulation prohibits serving water except when requested in restaurants and bars, and requires hotels and motels to offer guests the option of not having their towels and linens replaced on a daily basis.

The State Water Board hosted an informational public workshop in Sacramento on Tuesday, November 21st.  For more information on the workshop and the formal comment period, click here.

To read the draft proposal, click here.

For more information, click here to visit the State Water Board’s conservation portal.

FREE Financial Sustainability for Small Systems e-Learning Course

The Environmental Finance Center Network (EFCN) is offering a FREE 2 hour e-Learning course focusing on three major areas needed by small systems to achieve financial sustainability:

  • Setting up, managing and using enterprise funds
  • Enterprise fund revenues (their origin, what they should cover, and how to set up rates to cover expenses)
  • What it takes to provide safe water to protect public health (major regulations and their role in water quality, common operational questions managers should address, and how to involve operators in management decisions)

To sign up for this free e-learning course, click here.