Proposition 50 funds should benefit all Californians, association says

The California Water Association (CWA) is urging Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and his Administration to confirm rules to provide eligibility for Proposition 50 funding to all California communities.

Apr 2nd, 2004

SACRAMENTO, Calif., April 2, 2004 -- The California Water Association (CWA) is urging Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and his Administration to confirm rules to provide eligibility for Proposition 50 funding to all California communities.

"The eligibility of funding under Proposition 50 should benefit areas where the real needs exist," said Susan Conway, President of the California Water Association.

This will deny access to these funds for dozens of communities all over California that are served by private water utilities regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission. If that effort were to succeed, more than 20% of all California residents, over six million people, would lose the right to share in the benefits of Proposition 50's financing for clean water and other improvements.

"This is a fundamental issue of fairness," Conway wrote in a letter to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. "No one told the voters in San Jose, for example, or Coronado or Bell Gardens or scores of other communities all over California that they would not be allowed to benefit when they voted for Proposition 50. But even though the voters in these communities will never see a dime in benefits from Proposition 50, they would still have to pay for the bonds through their taxes every year."

Worse, many of the regulated water utilities that would be cut off serve small towns and disadvantaged communities that have been hard hit in recent years by contamination of their groundwater supplies. The people in these communities are often the least able to afford to pay for necessary improvements to their water systems.

And yet, Conway said, these are the very communities that were intended to qualify for priority funding under the terms of the bond measure, its enabling statute and the draft criteria for eligibility.

The co-author of Proposition 50 has already confirmed there was never any intention of excluding communities served by regulated water utilities. And the Legislative Counsel's office has likewise concluded that such funding is legal.

"Regulated water utilities represented by CWA would not profit if granted access to the funding, a fact assured by the oversight of the California Public Utilities Commission, Conway pointed out. "But if these utilities are not allowed to compete fairly for bond funding, their customers will be denied the benefits of the bond measure while at the same time being made to pay for the costs associated with the bond as taxpayers. What part of that is fair?"

"In recently arguing against the interest of the communities served by private water companies, Treasurer Philip Angelides is proposing the disenfranchisement of nearly six million Californians - taxpayers who voted through the bond measure to pay for healthy, clean and reliable drinking water systems for their families."

California Water Association (CWA) is an association of regulated water utilities providing high-quality water utility services to customers throughout California. With more than 52 active member companies, CWA provides a forum for sharing best practices; a means of promoting sound, reasonable and science-based policymaking by regulatory agencies and legislators; and opportunities for educating the public on efficient water use and protection of water resources.

More in Drinking Water