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Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) today introduced the Water Conservation Tax Parity Act, a bipartisan bill to encourage residential water conservation and stormwater management programs.

Some entities, including public utilities, sewage districts and local governments, currently provide rebate programs for participation in water conservation or stormwater management measures. The bill would exempt the value of these rebates from gross income calculations.

“As Western states recover from a historic drought, making water conservation and management rebates tax-exempt is a commonsense proposal,” Feinstein said. “These programs should be treated the same as energy conservation programs which are already tax-exempt. Water conservation and management are just as important to our environment and economy and intersect with energy conservation. Providing this financial incentive will allow more residents to participate in these vital programs.”

“Nevada is one of the driest states in the nation, so it makes little sense to tax homeowners for using water more responsibly,” said Heller. “Our legislation creates an important exemption for conservation and storm management rebates that will encourage Nevadans to conserve water. Water is a critical resource, and conservation efforts are essential to Western states like Nevada, which is why I want to thank Senator Feinstein for working with me to address this important issue.”

“This bill ensures that homeowners who make smart investments in water conservation aren't unfairly penalized,” Bennet said. “Drought is a serious issue in Colorado. This fix will make it easier for families to save water—something that is good for both our environment and our economy.”

“With massive population growth along the front range, coupled with much of the West being mired in drought, Coloradans know all too well how important it is to conserve water,” Gardner said. “This bipartisan legislation will incentivize Coloradans to save water and reward our local governments for their water conservation efforts. Protecting our environment and growing our economy are not mutually exclusive and I’m proud to introduce this bill that works toward accomplishing both of those goals.”

The bill is supported by a coalition of organizations and public utilities including Western Urban Water Coalition, Alliance for Water Efficiency, American Water Works Association, National Association of Water Companies, U.S. Water Alliance, Western Coalition of Arid States, National Water Resources Association, WaterNow Alliance, Association of California Water Agencies, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The full text of the legislation can be found here.

Congressmen Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) have introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives.