Legal Alerts Jul 20, 2016

California State Water Board Releases Revised Drinking Water Fee Regulations

California State Water Board Releases Revised Drinking Water Fee Regulations

The State Water Resources Control Board recently released a series of revisions to its proposed Drinking Water Fee Regulations. The revised regulations make a series of amendments to the previously proposed regulations that could result in very significant fee increases for affected public water systems. The revised regulations, however, do not significantly alter the specific requirements for water wholesalers.

The Board is proposing the regulations in conformance with 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 a “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 proposed rulemaking.

Among other changes, the revised regulations alter the fee structure applicable to designated public water systems. For example, as initially proposed, public water systems serving between 101 and 1,000 service connections were going to be required to pay $2.00 per service connection. Now, a system falling within this designation will be required to pay a flat fee of $100, plus $2.00 per service connection greater than 100. In addition, as initially proposed, public water systems with 1,001 or more service connections were going to be required to pay $2.00 per service connection. Now, the revised regulations create an independent fee structure for those systems with 1,001 to 5,000 connections, 5,001 to 15,000, and 15,001 and greater. 

Notably, the revised regulations do not significantly alter the specific requirements for water “wholesalers,” as defined. If enacted, wholesalers will be required to pay an annual fee of $6,000 plus $1.36 per 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 approximately 7,500 water systems across the State. The Board is seeking public comment on the proposed regulations. The comment period ends on July 29th. More information about the regulation and how to provide public comments can be found here.

For more information on the draft 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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