California State Assembly Approves Bill Protecting Water Ratepayers

Bill clarifies language in water code related to use of groundwater storage & responsibilities of water agencies

In a bipartisan vote, the California State Assembly approved Senate Bill 1386, a measure that clarifies language in the California Water Code and eliminates duplications among public water agencies over storing and managing groundwater in southeast Los Angeles County. The bill, as introduced by Sen. Alan Lowenthal, should reduce costs that would otherwise result from water agencies providing the same services over groundwater in the local region.

"The bipartisan vote in the state Assembly today is a victory for Southern California ratepayers. This clarification in the water code will undoubtedly avoid wasteful redundancy and unnecessary high costs that get passed onto ratepayers," said WRD Board President Albert Robles. "The legislation will open the way to new opportunities for WRD and local groundwater pumpers to better coordinate for future groundwater storage."

Senate Bill 1386 clarifies language in the water code related to the use of groundwater storage and the historic responsibilities of different water agencies. 

"The Assembly vote advances the goal of making the region more self sufficient for its water needs, which benefits the entire state," said Jim Glancy, president of the Central Basin Water Assn. "Storing water underground enables us to capture water in wet years for later use by our communities and increases the flexibility of local resources. The bill eliminates duplication and confusion over which agency will lead in that responsibility."

Rob Beste, a member of the West Basin Water Assn., explained, "Ratepayers will benefit because the bill will keep water rates affordable by utilizing unused groundwater capacity and reducing the need for expensive imported water during seasons with low rainfall. We are moving in the right direction and avoiding inefficient overlaps in service."

According to Long Beach Water Department General Manager Kevin Wattier, the Assembly's vote "represents a huge victory for water management for both the region and the state.  The water code clarification provided by the bill gives us the ability to store water in the few years when there is a surplus for use in the many years when the region experiences drought conditions.  We needed this bill to help us as we work to reduce our reliance on expensive and unreliable imported water."

The bill now goes back to the state Senate where it is expected to receive final approval before going to the Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature.

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