California’s water crisis continues to grow worse.
We are currently in the midst of one of the driest winters on record. Hardly any measurable rain fell in December and January, which are usually among the wettest months of the year, and there is no relief in sight. The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center recently forecast that this dry weather pattern is expected to last for at least the next three months.
Meanwhile, real people are suffering under mandatory water rationing orders. There is not enough water for farmers to grow crops. Restaurants, hotels and equipment rental companies that rely upon water for tourism like skiing and water sports have seen their business drop sharply. Californians are demanding action from Sacramento to address the immediate crisis and solve our water challenges once and for all.
Ironically, one of the primary reasons why this year’s drought is so bad has nothing to do with Mother Nature. It is a lack of forward thinking from Sacramento.
California’s current water infrastructure is outdated and overwhelmed. It was built more than a half century ago to meet the needs of 1960’s California for a population of 10 million people instead of the 38 million who now reside in California. This is woefully inadequate to meet the needs of our constantly-growing state. Had we acted to build additional storage, both above and below ground, people would be feeling less pain today.
That’s why I have proposed legislation – Assembly Bill 1445 – to place a $5.8 billion statewide water bond before the voters. $4.8 billion from my water bond proposal would go to increase ground and surface water storage capacity. For example, it could provide the resource needed to build two projects such as the Sites Reservoir near Maxwell and the Temperance Flats project near Fresno. The $1 billion remaining would go towards funding projects that improve water quality to ensure clean and safe drinking water to all Californians.
My proposal will help California improve its water quality, enhance its ability to protect fragile ecosystems and reserve water for emergency situations like our current drought. It would also protect the so-called “area of origin” water rights for North State farmers and ranchers.
While you may read about other water bond proposals, I believe my legislation is the preferable solution for a couple of key reasons. For starters, it is about half the cost of other bond proposals at $5.8 billion. In effect, my legislation could provide twice the water for half the price.
Assembly Bill 1445 also rejects the pork projects and special interest giveaways that hurt taxpayers and undermine the public’s trust. More importantly, it doesn’t include the costly and controversial Delta tunnels project proposed by the Governor. In short, my legislation is the only proposal on the table that will address California’s lack of storage in a straightforward and cost-effective manner.
In offering my water bond legislation, I also extend my hand of cooperation to work with all interested parties to reach agreement on a proposal that will truly benefit the entire state. I am hopeful that we can reach consensus on this critical measures for the good of the whole state.
But at the end of the day, we cannot let competing interests prevent a water bond proposal from going before the people at the ballot box. The clock is ticking and we need to act soon. If Sacramento continues to bog down a water bond proposal, then it may be time to break the logjam and go directly to the people.
No longer can we see water as a Northern California or Southern California issue. Our current drought affects the entire state. I will need your help to make sure this important piece of legislation passes. Call your legislator and tell them that you support AB 1445. Visit my website, www.morewatercalifornia.com, and sign my online petition so we can show lawmakers in Sacramento that we need to act now to secure our water future and protect the public health safety of all Californians.
North State Assemblyman Dan Logue represents the 3rd Assembly District in the California Legislature.