With the water supply still on many minds across California, local State Senator Steve Glazer has authored a proposal that will be taken to statewide voters in June aimed at providing a tax incentive for people who install a rainwater recycling system on their property.
Unanimously endorsed by both legislative houses, Senate Constitutional Amendment (SCA) 9 would add rainwater capture systems to the list of building additions that would not trigger a reassessment of the property's value -- and the associated increase in property taxes that would follow.
"If approved by the voters, this rainwater recycling measure could play a key part in California's overall strategy of conserving our most precious resource, water," Glazer (D-Orinda) said in a statement this week after Gov. Jerry Brown approved associated legislation to send SCA 9 to the ballot.
Typically, new construction or additions to an existing home or building would result in the property needing to be reappraised by the county assessor -- with four exceptions.
Glazer's proposed amendment would add a fifth exemption to the list, in an effort to encourage property owners to install rainwater capture systems.
"Boom and bust cycles of rain may be the new norm as we face the disruptive power of climate change," the Tri-Valley's state senator said. "Conservation and water storage are key elements of allowing California to thrive despite these future difficulties."
The systems collect, store and repurpose rainwater for landscape irrigation and other non-potable uses. For example, Glazer said, a system atop a 1,500-square-foot roof in a moderate rainfall region could capture an estimated 10,000 gallons per year.
The local legislator pointed to Brown's words in his recent State of the State address on the importance of supporting rainwater recapturing now and in the years ahead.
"As the climate changes and more water arrives as rain instead of snow, it is crucial that we are able to capture the overflow in a timely and responsible way," the governor said. "That, together with recycling and rainwater recapture, will put us in the best position to use water wisely and in the most efficient way possible."
Glazer said his proposal -- on the June 5 ballot as Proposition 72 -- is modeled after similar legislation from the 1980s that added an exclusion for solar systems that helped the solar industry get off the ground. Current law also exempts reconstruction to install fire prevention or suppression systems, to make a home more accessible for a severely disabled person or to make any building more usable by a disabled person.
"It is my hope that small scale water storage systems will follow the path of rooftop solar systems that allow property owners to save money and contribute to the conservation of finite resources," Glazer added.
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said his office is accepting ballot arguments for and against Prop 72 through Tuesday to appear in June's voter information guide, with rebuttal arguments due Feb. 15.
For more information on Prop 72 or the June primary election in general, visit the Secretary of State website.