Debate Resumes On Water Bonds
California’s Legislature is beginning 2014 taking up where it left off on considering what, if anything, to do about the state’s proposed multi-billion-dollar water infrastructure bond measure.
As it stands, an $11.2 billion bond proposal is scheduled to go before voters in November’s general election after having been twice postponed previously.
There has been considerable discussion about crafting a scaled-down bond as a replacement proposition that would eliminate a number of local projects included for political purposes to help gain the current measure’s narrow Legislative passage in 2009. Another option is to do nothing and let the $11.2 billion proposal go before voters in November.
Legislators have also talked about delaying the present proposal a third time – to November 2016. That would require a simple majority vote. Any change in the bond’s provisions would require a two-thirds majority.
George Soares, a Sacramento lobbyist who assists the Friant Water Authority, told FWA directors December 13, “The water bond obviously continues to be a challenge. Currently, the most popular number [for a scaled down] bond is about $8 billion. That can still work.”
Keeping water storage in the bond is important to Friant and many other water agencies, Soares noted. The current bond storage provisions could help construct a multi-purpose reservoir of up to 1.2 million acre-feet at Temperance Flat on the San Joaquin River in and above upper Millerton Lake.
Another element important to Friant and many other California water agencies is Delta sustainability. In an $8 billion measure, about $2 billion would then be left for other purposes, with a major one expected to be significant bond funding to provide clean drinking water in disadvantaged communities.