Some have written on these pages against placing a proposed water bond on this November’s ballot. But any Republican interested in fostering and strengthening our state’s economy, business climate, and the quality of our drinking water needs to join me and place a comprehensive bond on this November’s ballot.
The bottom line is that our water crisis is real, and we need to get real about addressing it.
Even in the face of a daunting deficit, we can’t afford NOT to act on our water crisis immediately. Failure to act now could turn a crisis into a catastrophe. What are big problems today could become catastrophes tomorrow.
Water shortages have already forced farmers to let thousands of acres of crops die, resulting in millions in economic damages, thousands of lost jobs and less California-grown food that fuels our economy and feeds our families.
New economic growth has been stalled in regions like Riverside and elsewhere due to a lack of water. Farmers and businesses in my district are being forced to conserve – which slows their production and hurts our economy.
And the Delta is nearing physical and ecological collapse. A Federal Court cut water deliveries from the Bay-Delta 30% to protect the Smelt, and the physical infrastructure of the Delta will not survive and earthquake or flood. The Delta provides drinking water for 25 million Californians and 2.5 million acres of farmland. Southern California receives about 30% of its water from the delta.
Governor Schwarzenegger and Senator Feinstein have proposed water bond language that I believe serves as a strong foundation to finalize a bond for November. It includes funding to fix the Delta, rebuild and improve statewide and local water delivery infrastructure and – most important – funding for much needed water storage, both above and below-ground.
The bond also includes funding for environmental restoration, which some on this page have criticized. But let’s get real. Legislating is the art of negotiation and compromise. Any comprehensive bond will also need to address the issues that our colleagues on the other side of the aisle demand.
And this bond contains more funding for physical infrastructure, storage and actual new water than any other water bond in recent memory.
The role of government is to provide the infrastructure needed to foster the quality of life of our residents, and to help our economy and businesses grow. If we fail to place a water bond on the November ballot, we’ve failed in our most basic responsibilities.