With water tax dead, Sacramento finds funding for clean drinking water

California leaders appear to have struck a deal to deliver safe drinking water to disadvantaged communities.

With little appetite from state lawmakers for Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed tax on water users, Newsom and legislative leaders agreed to tap $130 million annually, with the bulk from California’s cap-and-trade “Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund” to improve water systems.

The compromise was supported by a number of agricultural groups in the Central Valley, including California Citrus Mutual which publicly backed Newsom’s initial tax on water usage.

The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund typically provides funding for upgrading agricultural equipment such as outdated diesel engines and methane pollution mitigation.

$100 million of the annual $130 million safe drinking water fund is coming from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. The remaining $30 million will be provided via the state’s general fund.

Some lawmakers questioned the connection between greenhouse gas emissions and clean drinking water, but Democrats

“It’s directly connected,” Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel), the sponsor of Newsom’s water tax, “Without climate change, without greenhouse gas emissions, you don’t have this immediate public health crisis.”

The budget deadline is midnight, June 15.

Staff reports from The San Joaquin Valley Sun staff.