A bill that would make it easier for local agencies to build projects to capture storm water and boost water supplies has passed the California State Senate. The measure, authored by Democratic state Senator Bob Hertzberg of Van Nuys, would change the way the projects could be financed.
Proponents of the legislation say projects that clean, capture and recycle storm water can’t get built very easily in California.
“We’re losing hundreds of thousands of acre-feet of water each year to the ocean in places like Los Angeles and San Diego and San Francisco and that’s water that if we make the proper investments, can be captured and used,” says Andrew Fahlund with the Water Foundation and the bill's sponsor.
The main reason: unlike water delivery systems, sewer service, or even trash collection, fees or taxes can’t be assessed for stormwater capture projects.
Under the bill, stormwater would be defined as a sewer service.
Republican state Senator Ted Gaines of El Dorado Hills, who opposes the bill, says it’s a way to bypass voter approval for new taxes.
“I just see this as a step in the wrong direction that does not provide accountability to taxpayers when in fact taxpayers ought to have that right in the form of a ballot and a vote when it comes to fee and tax increases.”
The measure passed the Senate on a 23 to 10 vote and now heads to the Assembly.