Regarding the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Aug. 25 editorial, “Last-minute water tax can’t be justified however worthy the cause”: Unsafe drinking water is a Third World problem that cannot be tolerated in California. It is long past time that the Legislature produced a sustainable solution that will ensure a basic right to water that is clean and safe.
Such a solution is at hand. It is a bipartisan plan supported by environmental groups such as Clean Water Action, health groups such as the American Heart Association, and farm groups including the California Rice Commission and the Western Growers Association.
Senate Bill 623 creates a Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund designed to provide emergency relief and a sustainable long-term solution by funding water treatment facilities that these small water systems cannot possible afford on their own. Funding would come from two sources.
Because in many cases the source of contamination is a high concentration of nitrates, an unavoidable byproduct of farming operations, the agricultural community is stepping up to support a fee to cover nitrate-related costs. It is a statewide problem, so the funding structure also includes a statewide solution — a modest fee not to exceed $1 a month on the water bills for residents and businesses.
A recent poll showed that two-thirds of Californians — alarmed by the plight of those without access to a safe water supply — support this approach.
The fact that a million Californians cannot use water from their taps to mix baby formula, make iced tea, brush their teeth or simply to straight-up quench their thirsts ought to be unacceptable.
It is a problem we are morally compelled to solve, and a sensible solution is at hand.
Sen. Bill Monning is a Democratic state senator representing Carmel. Contributing to this piece was Tim Johnson. president and CEO of the California Rice Commission.