Jun 11 2015

State Budget Trailer Bills on Water Could Pass in Days

– Attaching Water Trailers to the Budget Bill Bypasses Normal Consideration by Committees and Citizens. –

Three water bills that would affect Piedmonters and other water customers could pass quickly without adequate transparency and citizen awareness, according to East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) Board of Directors President Frank Mellon.  June 15 is the constitutional deadline for the Legislature to pass the budget, very little time for those trying to stop or modify the language of the proposal.

The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) wants to stop the proposed budget trailer bill 825 or significantly change its language. It would authorize the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to require consolidation of public water systems, overriding local agency procedures, planning and budgets. The California Association of Local Agency Formation Commissions, the California Municipal Utilities Association, the California Special Districts Association, the California State Association of Counties, the League of California Cities and the Rural County Representatives of California are joining ACWA to urge legislators to defeat 825 in this letter.

Passing budget trailer bills that arise suddenly at the end of the fiscal year is an expedited process recommended by Governor Jerry Brown, avoiding policy and fiscal committees’ review.  Mellon calls this fast enactment arbitrary, “We need to see the language and not just push through these bills.”

EBMUD is also opposing trailer bill 807, which would substantially change the funding structure of the SWRCB drinking water program by emergency regulation. “The amount of fees charged to each large water system, such as EBMUD, would not have to be based on actual costs…” according to the EBMUD analysis.  Piedmonters should expect that additional fees charged to EBMUD will be passed on to customers.

EBMUD favors trailer bill 807, which would require new multi-family residential buildings and mixed residential and commercial buildings to install individual water meters for each unit. It would have no impact on all the existing multi-family residential buildings that do not have meters for each unit. EBMUD Ward 4 Director Andy Katz agreed, “submetering leads to conservation” by occupants of multi-family buildings. Katz represents Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, El Cerrito, Kensington, and a part of Oakland.

One Response to “State Budget Trailer Bills on Water Could Pass in Days”

  1. No doubt EBMUD supports sub-metering in that more meters means more customers and associated fees. Individual conservation is important but before beating up on multi-family EBMUD should produce an analysis showing per capita use per multi-family bldg and compare it with single use residential per capita. Multi-family probably have little or no landscaping use which is the real waste of water in a drought.

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