Water Bond Flows to November Ballot
It’s official: Amidst record drought, California voters this November will get a chance to approve a revamped, bipartisan $7.5 billion water bond. Following days of intense negotiation, the final measure sailed through both houses with astonishing bipartisan support: 77-2 in the Assembly, 37-0 in the Senate, and with the backing of many influential business, environment, and agricultural organizations. “We should toast to our future because now we have one,” said Bay Area Council President & CEO Jim Wunderman. “If we had not passed this bond it would have been the ultimate example of California’s dysfunction. Instead, interest groups and legislators who at one time were fighting with each other compromised for the common good. They produced a focused, targeted water bond that is our best hope for a sustainable future for California’s water system. It will now get a well-deserved opportunity to be approved by the public.”
Alongside big investments in water recycling, groundwater management and regional self-reliance, the bond would also provide state funding for new reservoirs for the first time in three decades. All week the Council’s input and influence was sought to improve the measure and deepen support, with staff from the offices of the Governor and several legislators explicitly thanking the Council’s Water Committee for sharing their thoughts in a June 25 proposal, and for being engaged throughout. The final deal was similar to the Committee’s plan in several ways, including overall spending ($7.12 billion vs. $7 billion), watershed protection ($1.4 vs. $1.1 billion), and for water recycling, groundwater management and regional self-reliance ($2.9 vs. $2.3 billion). The delta will receive $300 million for levee improvements in the final deal, and $87 million through the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife for limited restoration work. To engage in the Council’s water policy work, contact Policy Manager Adrian Covert.