Flooding Our Wallets? Proposition 218 Explained

Anjali Badesha (12th), Reporter

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“Water is life, and clean water means health.”

Audrey Hepburn may have spoken these words fifty years from today, but the parallels still run strong. Water does bring and is, essentially, life. But what if the water is not clean? What if the water that was once so plentiful has been altered? What will become of health now?

For years, Turlock residents have prided themselves on their clean, good tasting drinking water. That, however, is all about to change.

The root of the problem stems back to 2011, the start of California’s most severe drought, which carried out until 2017. Since then, Turlock, who has a history of relying solely on ground water, found that it’s supplies were running dangerously low. In addition, there was found to be an increased number of contaminants in the groundwater as well as stricter and stricter guidelines.

The quality of the water was worsening and the supply of water itself was draining. The solution? Turlock partnered up with the city of Ceres to form the the Stanislaus Regional Water Authority (SRWA) where they will spend roughly $288 million dollars to buy a surface water plant from Turlock Irrigation District.

The surface water (brought in from the Tuolumne River) will then be treated in order to, as the City of Turlock put it, “improve water quality, enhance the supply, and allow for groundwater recharge.”

While the SRWA believed this measure would improve water quality, decrease both cities reliance on groundwater, and make it much cheaper than filtering out contaminants from our initial groundwater supply, most residents were not happy. The proposition would nearly double the rate of water process by the year 2022.

Proposition 218 was brought to light in the summer of 2017, along with an explanation of the gradual increase in price of water per gallon. As soon as March of this year, the price of a gallon for a single family will increase by ten cents and will continue to gradually increase; by the year 2022, the price of a gallon will increase from $0.74 to $1.76. The city council, who had a unanimous vote, 4-0 in favor of passing the bill are under hot fire as well as mayor, Gary Soiseth.

Residents were given until December 12, 2017, in order to protest the proposed rates, in which roughly 9,500 would be needed in order to stick to groundwater, Despite the resentment that it had stirred up amongst residents, however, only 700 protests were received, so the proposition went on to pass. Turlock will gradually switch from solely groundwater to a combination of groundwater and treated surface water.

Water rates will soon begin their increase and are expected to double within the next five years. As soon as 2019, the surface water will be mixed into the drinking water. Whether the change is for the better or the worse, is too soon to tell.

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