The ongoing drought in California that is the third worst in the state’s history shows no signs of letting up and has prompted Gov. Jerry Brown to propose a $6 billion water bond as part of the state’s Water Action Plan.
The California Water Action Plan was released earlier this year in partnership between the California Natural Resources Agency, the California Environmental Protection Agency, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture to address ongoing conservation concerns and improve current water supply infrastructure. The proposed water bond would be tied to the Plan and invest “in the most critical projects without breaking the bank,” Brown said.
The proposed $6 billion bond is an alternative to the $11.1 billion bond that is slated to appear on the November ballot that Brown deems “pork-laden.”
Brown’s $6 billion proposal offers a more fiscally conservative “no-frills, no-pork” approach allocating $750 million to regional water reliability, $400 million to safe drinking water, $450 to groundwater sustainability, and $2 billion for water storage.
“Since being elected governor, I’ve worked with the Legislation to reduce the state’s fiscal liability. Together, we’ve made steady progress paying down debt and enacting responsible, balanced budgets and it is no time to turn back now,” said Brown in a message posted to his campaign website. “We must act now so that we can continue to manage as good stewards of this vital resource for generations to come. But we can and must do so without returning California to the days of overwhelming deficit and debt.”
However, for the farmers whose livelihood is at stake due to the state’s drought status the $6 billion dollar bond may not be enough to make a significant difference. According to Assemblymember Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) in order for water conservation projects to be viable the bond needs to allocate a minimum of an additional $1 billion. Also, the proposed bond would need to be disconnected from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta tunnel projects — to which the governor has currently allocated $475 million — if it will win voter support.
“Governor Brown’s proposal is a good start for negotiations, but a great deal of work still needs to be done to craft a bond that will address California’s desperate need for more water,” said Olsen. “Our state’s communities and entire economy depend on it.”
The ongoing drought has magnified the water issue that has been a source of contention for some time evident by the $11.1 billion Water Bond having been postponed twice in the past five years. Senate Republicans are now proposing an $8.7 billion water bond as a compromise that will allocate an additional $1 billion for water storage as well as fund clean drinking water, protect watersheds, groundwater sustainability, water recycling, and more.
“This Senate Republican bond is a fair compromise that should obtain bipartisan support as it meets California’s water needs,” said Sen. Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres.)