I’m pleased with the actions taken by Republicans and Democrats to forge a bipartisan compromise on a water bond that will appear on this November’s ballot. The $7.5 billion dollar plan is important for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, while we’ve passed five or so “water” bonds in the past 15 years in the amount of $19 billion dollars, this is the first recent bond that actually contains significant funding for new water storage. This is money that will be matched with federal and local funds to build two new reservoirs – one in Northern California and the second on the San Joaquin River in Central California.
Republicans have consistently said that new storage is essential for providing a reliable water source.
To that point, $2.7 billion dollars – nearly 40 percent of the bond funds – are dedicated to new storage projects. Significantly – these projects will also receive continuous appropriation – which means the funding can’t be blocked by the Legislature in the future.
There are many other line items in the bond language, including funding for wastewater, public water infrastructure, water recycling, groundwater sustainability and flood management. While using existing water more efficiently is extremely important – we can’t conserve our way out of a drought.
We need new storage projects to capture the runoff in heavy rain and snowfall years, so that we actually have water to conserve! Our existing water capture, storage and delivery system was built for a population half our size. With these needed improvements included in this bond, we will better survive the dry years the state is sure to endure in the future.
This bond agreement will cost nearly $4 billion less than the bond passed by the legislature in 2009, which will now be removed from voter consideration. The surviving $7.5 billion bond is truly a “no-frills” bond and reflects a true compromise hammered out by both parties and the Governor.
While we believe this proposal is good for all Californians, compromise means no party or region gets everything it wants. Future investments in our water system must continue to build on this progress and increase storage capacity and water delivery flexibility.
Sixty years ago California lawmakers invested heavily in a plan called the State Water Project, which resulted in the series of reservoirs and conveyance projects that serve California families today. The bond that will appear on this November’s ballot represents another visionary step forward to serve California’s growing population.
Senator Bob Huff serves as the Senate Republican Leader and represents the 29th Senate District, covering portions of Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino Counties. Follow Senator Huff on Twitter @bobhuff99.