Mike Rogge

Wastewater bill with significant financial impacts

By Mike Rogge

Capitol Update, May 6, 2016 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Last year, Senator Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) introduced a bill on elections that was gut and amended in the Assembly on September 3rd and promptly sent to Rules where it has been inactive ever since. The sanitation agencies now report that Senator Hertzberg is poised to activate SB 163. As amended, the bill bans the discharge of treated wastewater to the ocean, declaring it a waste and unreasonable use of water, instead maintaining that the water should be recycled and used for further beneficial uses. The bill would require at least 50 percent compliance by 2026 and 100 percent compliance by 2036.

While Senator Hertzberg’s motives are admirable, the actual cost of compliance has not been thoroughly evaluated. Under this bill, the cost of wastewater services to ratepayers (citizens and businesses) could increase by a factor of six times.

A water and wastewater district provided some preliminary figures on how much rates would have to increase to meet the mandates in SB 163, if it were possible for them to comply. The rates would have to begin escalating soon to provide funding for the new program

Water Charge Rate Impact Example

  • Commercial Customer – increase from about $236/mo. to about $1,420/mo.
  • Industrial Customer – increase from about $2,158/mo. to about $12,950/mo.

Wastewater Treatment Rate Impact Example

  • Commercial Customer – Increase from about $128/mo. to $770/mo.
  • Industrial Customer – Increase from about $6,915/mo. to about $41,490/mo.

The business community supports reuse and recycled water projects as a valid means of increasing water supplies, however, rate increases such as these are not absorbable. Opportunities to reuse wastewater in proximity to the wastewater facility are not always viable. There are already projects in place to increase the amount of water reused and recycled by businesses and wastewater facilities. This bill disrupts those long term plans.

CMTA opposes SB 163.

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