In the nick of time, the legislature and the Governor have produced a $7.5 billion water bond proposal for voter consideration in November. There is a lot to love in this proposal. Capturing and storing water during wet years, knowing that droughts are a given. Cleaning up our water supplies to ensure safe drinking water, along with recycling and conservation, among other efforts. That’s the good news. The uncertain news is — Will the proposal rekindle the water wars of the past as the ballot measure campaign moves forward?
Three years ago, in Fox & Hounds, I referenced the renowned film Chinatown, starring Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway, which was based in part on real events that fostered water wars when William Mulholland acted on behalf of Los Angeles interests to secure water rights in Northern California. The main character in the film is L.A. Detective Jake Gittes who uncovers a vast conspiracy focused on the supply of water, overlaid with state and municipal corruption, with a least one murder thrown into the mix. Although this film was set in the early 1900s there are still people today who remain convinced that the Southland is stealing Northern California’s water. California’s history is steeped in water (no pun intended) and it was all about Who Has the Water? Who Wants the Water? And, Who is Going to Get It?