In December 2015, the Association of California Water Agencies, the California State Association of Counties, and the League of California Cities filed a constitutional amendment with the Attorney General’s office.

Their measure would create a new, optional funding method local agencies can use to finance stormwater management and flood control projects, set rates for customers to encourage conservation, and reduce water and sewer bills for low-income customers. The measure includes strict accountability and transparency requirements for any local agency that chooses to use the new method.

What you need to know:

This constitutional amendment would establish a new, optional funding method that authorizes local agencies to:

  • Set rates for customers to encourage water conservation, prevent waste and discourage excessive use
  • Levy fees and charges, subject to ratepayer protest, for flood control and for stormwater management to protect coastal waters, rivers, lakes, streams, groundwater and other sources of drinking water from contamination
  • Use fees and charges to reduce water and sewer fees and charges for low-income customers

Any local agency that utilizes this optional funding method for water service and sewer service would be required to adhere to strict accountability, transparency and ratepayer protections that include:

  • Providing local ratepayers with a description of the services and facilities projected to be funded by any proposed fee or charge in advance of any public hearing or consideration of the fee or charge
  • Posting the description of the proposal on the agency’s website with all applicable exhibits
  • Providing local ratepayers a notice of the date and time of the public hearing the local agency will hold on the proposed fee and charges
  • If written protests against the fee or charge are presented by a majority of persons, then the local agency shall not impose, increase or extend the fee or charge
  • All money must be spent for the local purpose for which the fee or charge was imposed and cannot be taken by state government
  • Revenues derived from the fee or charge shall not exceed the reasonable cost to the local agency of providing the water or sewer service or be used for any purpose other than that for which it was imposed
  • The manner in which the costs are allocated to a fee payer shall bear a fair or reasonable relationship to the fee payer’s burden or benefits received from the water service or sewer service
  • The power of voters may be used to repeal or reduce the fee or charge in the future with the filing of a petition calling for an election on the question
  • Independent annual audits shall be made available to the public showing how all funds are spent.

This new, optional funding method will allow local agencies to invest in the water supplies, water quality, flood protection and water management, and conservation programs we need, while guaranteeing a high level of accountability and ratepayer protections

For more information, click here.