Common lore quotes Mark Twain as saying, “Whiskey’s for drinking and water’s for fighting over.” Sadly, more than a century after Twain served as a reporter for The Sacramento Union newspaper, those words still ring true in the Capitol.
The ongoing battle over water pits the same factions in the same fights: farmers versus environmentalists; north versus south; and conservation versus storage.
What’s so frustrating is that this vicious cycle can be broken. We can responsibly provide what we need for the people of this state and this economy, protect the Delta and the environment that relies upon it. There isn’t anything more important to the people of this state, our economy and, even our national security, than a safe, secure, clean and abundant water supply for all Californians.
It is absolutely essential to the state economy and to the quality of life for all Californians that we pass a comprehensive water bond now, to ensure that water continues to flow to California’s homes, farms and other facilities for the foreseeable future.
The $9.3 billion bipartisan water bond proposed by Governor Schwarzenegger and U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein earlier this month provides a solid framework for tackling California’s water challenges, and a much welcomed shot in the arm for an issue that’s been on the backburner for too long.
I’ve been working with my colleagues at the Capitol and in Washington for almost two years to arrive at a comprehensive water plan that would increase water storage, improve how that water is transported across the state, and revitalize the ailing Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Everyone agrees that California urgently needs to address California’s critical water woes, and as the saying goes, admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery. As is often the case in complex policy issues, the devil is in the details.
While I agree with Senate Pro Tem Don Perata that we should spend the as-yet-unallocated $872 million in funds from previous water bonds, we have to approach our water problems in a comprehensive, rather than piecemeal, manner. We cannot afford to let this vital issue be waylaid by partisan politics.