Legal Alerts May 04, 2016

California State Water Board Set to Impose New Drinking Water Fees on Public Water Systems

Public Comments Due June 22

California State Water Board Set to Impose New Drinking Water Fees on Public Water Systems

The State Water Resources Control Board released a series of proposed regulations aimed at increasing total funding for California’s Drinking Water Program and addressing drinking water issues by charging public water systems an annual fee. While the fees are aimed at ensuring the Board has adequate funding to implement the Program, the regulations could result in very significant fee increases for affected systems.

The Board is promulgating the regulations pursuant to its authority under the Safe Drinking Water Act, which applies to all persons who supply water for human consumption, and meet the law’s definition of “public water system.” A Senate Bill enacted last year (SB 83) modified the Board’s authority to impose annual operating fees on public water systems and served as the impetus for the Board’s most recent round of rulemaking.

Based on SB 83, the Board’s regulations establish a fee structure based on each water system’s total number of connections. For example, water systems with 100 or fewer service connections would be charged a $200 flat fee, while those systems with more than 1,000 connections would be charged $2.00 per connection. Thus, a system that has 10,000 connections would be required to pay an annual fee of $20,000, and a system with 40,000 connections would be required to pay $80,000.

In addition, the proposed regulation includes specific requirements for water “wholesalers,” as defined. If enacted, wholesalers would be required to pay an annual fee of $6,000 plus $1.36 per each million gallons of water that the wholesaler produces from surface and groundwater, as well as gallons of finished water that the wholesaler purchased or received from another public water system.

The Board estimates that the proposed regulation would apply to an estimated 7,500 systems across the State. The Board is seeking public comment on the proposed regulations. The comment period ends on June 22. More information about the regulation and how to provide public comments can be found here.

For more information on these proposed regulations and the comment process, please contact one of the authors of this Legal Alert listed at the right in the firm’s Environmental Law & Natural Resources practice group, or your BB&K attorney.

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Disclaimer: BB&K Legal Alerts are not intended as legal advice. Additional facts or future developments may affect subjects contained herein. Seek the advice of an attorney before acting or relying upon any information in this communiqué.

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