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California Bill Could Allow Tax On Water Wasters In Drought

Rich Pedroncelli / AP

Sprinklers irrigate the field at Kit Carson Middle School, one day after rains swept through the area, in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, April 8, 2015.

Rich Pedroncelli / AP

Earlier this month, a California court ruled that a city can’t charge large water users more unless the higher charges are directly related to cost of services.

A bill authored by Democratic Senator Bob Wieckowski would allow water districts to tax excessive water users up to 300 percent of the purchase price. But districts would need approval from two-thirds of voters.

Wieckowski says the bill would give agencies another enforcement tool during the drought.

"I got a district that’s reducing their water use aggregately by 18-percent," says Wiecowski. "But I still have some bad users that if they just were normal users we’d be down to 25 percent. So this helps with that.”

Wieckowski says some agencies likely won’t impose new taxes. But he says agencies’ ability to fine water wasters isn’t working.