Reinstated Tax Exemption Will Incentivize Participation in Turf Replacement Rebate Programs

Association of California Water Agencies
Association of California Water Agencies

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Sept. 28, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Gov. Gavin Newsom today signed AB 2142, which will reinstate the California personal tax exemption for turf replacement rebates and help incentivize participation in these important water saving programs.

The bill, by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Woodland Hills), was sponsored by the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA), California Water Efficiency Partnership (CalWEP) and WaterNow Alliance. It was supported by a large coalition of other associations, local water agencies and municipal leaders who offer customer rebate programs as a proven, cost-effective tool for reducing water use and promoting water conservation.

“With climate change exacerbating California’s severe droughts, extreme heat surges, and extended wildfire seasons, investment in water efficiency is critical and necessary,” Assemblymember Gabriel said. “Consumer rebates are a proven, cost-effective tool for reducing outdoor water footprint and rewarding Californians who do their part to conserve water and adapt to our changing climate. I applaud Governor Newsom for his leadership on climate resiliency and thank him for signing this important bill.”

California law already permanently exempted rebates for water efficient toilets and clothes washers, as well as certain plumbing for recycled water and energy conservation, from both personal and corporate taxes. AB 2142 reinstates the exemption for turf rebates, which expired in 2019, for taxable years 2022 through 2026.

Coalition member statements:

Association of California Water Agencies: “ACWA greatly appreciates Assemblymember Gabriel’s leadership on this common sense bill that will make turf rebate programs more appealing to Californians who are looking for ways to reduce water use now and in the future,” said ACWA Executive Director Dave Eggerton.

Media contact: Heather Engel, ACWA Director of Communications, heathere@acwa.com, 916-669-2387

California Water Efficiency Partnership: “Taxing water efficient rebates is a disincentive for Californians to participate in these programs. Given the state’s longer and drier periods of drought, we need to provide residents with every incentive we can to save water,” said CalWEP Co-Executive Director Tia Fleming.

Media contact: Tia Fleming, tia@calwep.org, 916-475-1204

WaterNow Alliance: “These cost-effective incentives will inspire much-needed participation throughout the current drought and are especially important for lower-income households who cannot afford to face additional tax liability,” said WaterNow Alliance Executive Director Cynthia Koehler.

Media contact: Cynthia Koehler, ck@waternow.org, 415-515-0511

Cal Water: “We applaud Governor Newsom’s signature on AB 2142. Ensuring that customers who take advantage of water rebate programs are not taxed on the value of those programs is smart and fair policy, especially for low-income customers. It also will increase water conservation efforts statewide. California needs all the tools and incentives possible to increase water conservation and deal with climate change and drought,” said California Water Service’s Chief Water Resource Sustainability Officer Ken Jenkins.

Media contact: Yvonne Kingman, Director of Corporate Communications, ykingman@calwater.com, 310-257-1434.

California Special Districts Association: “In this era of prolonged drought, consumers should be rewarded for taking steps to use water more efficiently. The tax relief provided through AB 2142 is a common-sense approach to encouraging Californians to replace grass with more appropriate landscaping without incurring a tax burden for doing so,” said CSDA Chief Executive Officer Neil McCormick.

Media contact: Kyle Packham, Advocacy and Public Affairs Director, kylep@csda.net, 916-442-7887

California Water Association

"AB 2142 will lift a significant barrier for low-income households to participate in rebate programs and save on water costs. As water utilities address both affordability and support customer conservation efforts, this bill will incentivize household participation in critical water conservation programs and make them more accessible to all. We thank the governor and legislature for working on this important initiative,” said Jennifer Capitolo, Executive Director of the California Water Association.

Media contact: Jennifer Capitolo, jcapitolo@calwaterassn.com, 916-402-1155

City of Roseville: “Climate models show the Sacramento Region will experience higher temperatures and smaller snowpack in the future. To successfully adapt to this future, water efficient landscapes will be key. AB 2142 provides local agencies an important tool to incentivize homeowners to convert their thirsty lawns to beautiful drought tolerant landscapes, saving significant water,” said Sean Bigley, Assistant Director Environmental Utilities at the City of Roseville.

Media contact: Maurice Chaney, Public Information Officer Environmental Utilities, MChaney@Roseville.ca.us, 916-774-5539

Coachella Valley Water District: “AB 2142 adds another incentive for residents to switch their lawn to drought tolerant landscaping. Coupled with Coachella Valley Water District’s (CVWD) turf conversion rebate program and recent city matching programs, this bill is a great benefit for customers looking to save water now and for future generations,” said CVWD General Manager Jim Barrett.

Media contact: Victoria Llort, Government & Regional Affairs, vllort@cvwd.org, 442-400-2177

Desert Water Agency: “Removing grass is the best thing most property owners can do to reduce their water footprint. For us, these incentives are a tool to weather drought and be sustainable in the long run. These projects empower our community to be part of the solution,” said Desert Water Agency Board President Kristin Bloomer.

Media contact: Ashley Metzger, Director of Public Affairs & Water Planning, ashley@dwa.org, 760-902-5565

Diablo Water District: “This bill removed a roadblock for our customers and now increases the tools at our disposal to help manage water demands during this current and future droughts,” said Diablo Water District General Manager Dan Muelrath.

Media contact: Dan Muelrath, dmuelrath@diablowater.org, 925-752-2051

Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District: "With outdoor landscaping accounting for more than 50 percent of a home’s water use, it’s vital to support our customers’ efforts to reduce outdoor use. EVMWD is pleased to hear Governor Newsom recognizes our customers’ conservation efforts as well by providing the extra incentive of a tax free rebate,” said EVMWD General Manager Greg Thomas.

Media contact: Greg Morrison, Government Relations Officer, gmorrison@evmwd.net, 951-894-8702

Foothill Municipal Water District: “Reducing outdoor water use is the easiest way to save this precious resource. This exemption is an important step towards encouraging conservation with removal of thirsty turf. This is important as the availability of water is severely impacted by climate change,” said FMWD Board President Richard Atwater.

Media contact: Nina Jazmadarian, General Manager, nina.jaz@fmwd.com, 818-790-4036 Ext. 102

Inland Empire Utilities Agency: “Supporting Californians in their water saving efforts is more important than ever, and IEUA continues to promote water-use efficiency programs for the region. This important action by the Governor is another step in working towards drought resiliency. Reinstating this tax exemption will help agencies encourage increased participation in the turf rebate program which has shown to develop real water savings,” said IEUA General Manager Shivaji Deshmukh.

Media contact: Alyson Piguee, Director of External and Government Affairs, apiguee@ieua.org, 909-247-8374

Mesa Water District: “Committed to advocating for cost-effective water efficiency tools, Mesa Water District is pleased to be a part of ACWA’s support coalition for AB 2142. We applaud Governor Newsom for signing AB 2142, making turf replacement rebates tax-free and incentivizing rebate applications and replacing turf with water-wise landscaping to help California save water during this and future droughts,” said Mesa Water Board President Marice DePasquale.

Media contact: Celeste Carrillo, Senior Public Affairs Specialist, CelesteC@mesawater.org, 949-207-5493

Municipal Water District of Orange County: “Utility rebates are a return of dollars from paid utility bills. Dollars that have already been taxed. This bill corrects double taxation. Californians who do their part to conserve shouldn’t be penalized for making significant investments that public utilities asked them to make. Otherwise, it’s no good deed goes unpunished,” said Director Larry Dick, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California representing Municipal Water District of Orange County.

Media contact: Damon Micalizzi, Director of Public Affairs, damon@mwdoc.com, 714-745-6677

Rancho California Water District: “Turf conversion is an important tool that will help modernize how Californians use their water. We are grateful to Assemblymember Gabriel and the Governor for their leadership as AB 2142 supports customers wishing to transform their lawns into drought-tolerant landscapes,” said Rancho California Water District General Manager Robb Grantham.

Media contact: Danielle Coats, Senior Public and Government Affairs Manager, coatsd@ranchowater.com, 951-526-6961

Santa Margarita Water District: “This bill represents a great win for our customers as they make decisions on how to conserve water now and in the future. It’s both an incentive and a reward for making permanent changes in water use,” said Santa Margarita Water District General Manager Dan Ferons.

Media contact: Nicole Stanfield, Public Information Manager, nicoless@smwd.com, 949-459-6548

Walnut Valley Water District: “Sustainability and affordability go hand in hand. AB 2142 ensures that Californians committed to a sustainable water future have all the tools and resources they need to adapt to climate change. Thank you to Governor Newsom, Assembly Member Gabriel, ACWA, and all parties involved in strengthening California’s conservation efforts,” said Walnut Valley Water District General Manager Erik Hitchman.

Media contact: Lily Lopez, Director of External Affairs & Sustainability, llopez@wvwd.com, (909)348-8215

Zone 7 Water Agency: “Zone 7 Water Agency came out early to support AB 2142 because reducing barriers to water conservation helps us provide long-term sustainable water services for our community,” said Angela Ramirez Holmes, Chair, Zone 7 Water Agency Legislative Committee and Immediate Past President.

Media contact: Alexandra Bradley, Communication Specialist, Zone 7 Water Agency, abradley@zone7water.com, (925) 454-5048

ACWA is a statewide association of public agencies whose more than 460 members are responsible for about 90% of the water delivered in California. For more information, visit www.acwa.com.

CalWEP’s mission is to maximize urban water efficiency and conservation throughout California by supporting and integrating innovative technologies and practices; encouraging effective public policies; advancing research, training, and public education; and building collaborative approaches and partnerships. For more information, visit www.calwep.org.

WaterNow Alliance is a network of local water leaders advancing sustainable, affordable, equitable, and climate resilient water strategies in their communities. For more information, visit www.waternow.org.