California Proposition 72 Rainwater Capture Systems Excluded from Property Tax Assessments Amendment



Rainwater Harvesting in California


California’s water shortage faces many obstacles that have promoted many unique solutions, including rainwater harvesting. The amount of water available underground varies widely, affecting the state’s farms, businesses, and residents with cost and availability.


In response to the ongoing water crisis, State Senator Steve Glazer (D-7) sponsored the amendment of the California Proposition 72, Rainwater Capture Systems Excluded from Property Tax Assessments Amendment. The Amendment passed this June 2018, with 83.28% of the vote. (Link to Prop 72)


Two Pioneer Water Tanks for a rainwater system in Humboldt
Two Pioneer Water Tanks for a rainwater system in Humboldt


This Amendment exempts the construction or addition of rain-capture systems from property-tax reassessment, on or after January 1, 2019. Similar financial incentives have been enacted in ten other states that have seen sustainable results. In Tucson, Arizona the Tucson Water Utilities’ research found that 720 homeowners in their rebate program saved an average of 748 gallons each, per month with rainwater harvesting. (Link to article)


Rainwater harvesting systems use a building roof to convey water into a storage system for later beneficial use. Stored rainwater can be used for domestic and potable use in California. The State of California AB-1750 Rainwater Capture Act of 2012 (link to AB-1750) provides that rainwater captured off of rooftops doesn’t require a water right permit.


The basics of rainwater harvesting
The basics of rainwater harvesting


“California AB-1750 (c) Rainwater and stormwater, captured and properly managed, can contribute significantly to local water supplies by infiltrating and recharging groundwater aquifers, thereby increasing available supplies of drinking water. In addition, the onsite capture, storage, and use of rainwater for non-potable use significantly reduce demand for potable water, contributing to the statutory objective of a 20-percent reduction in urban per capita water use in California by December 31, 2020.” (Link to AB-1750)


Lago Giuseppe fire protection Pioneer Water Tanks
A rainwater collection system that is used for fire protection at a winery in Napa.


The Proposition 72 Amendment furthers this water initiative by giving a slight financial incentive, or at the very least, doesn’t make installing a rainwater harvesting system more of a property tax cost. According to State research, there may be a minor reduction in annual property tax revenues to local governments but nothing that could be noticeable (Link).


Recently, California Governor Jerry Brown signed two bills into law with the goal of reducing water consumption.


“In preparation for the next drought and our changing environment, we must use our precious resources wisely,” Brown said in a statement. “We have efficiency goals for energy and cars—and now we have them for water.”


Not only will California residents face stricter utility water restrictions, but also stricter water rights with fewer permits offered for groundwater sources. Hopefully, this will mean that along with this new Amendment, rainwater harvesting will become even more of a viable solution to sourcing water sustainably.


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