Friant Board Adopts New Bond Stance
Friant Water Authority directors have taken a new policy position on the state water bond that moves from endorsing the measure slated to appear on a 2014 ballot to favoring inclusion of several crucial goals and objectives if the bond is rewritten.
It has been increasingly evident that proposals are likely to be made to modify the twice-delayed water bond. Originally scheduled to go before voters in 2010, it was first changed to the 2012 general election before being further postponed until 2014 due to the state budget crisis and the recession.
No changes have yet been made from how the $11.4 billion infrastructure bond was framed by bipartisan compromise and action in 2009 after more than a year of debate. Friant was a major participant in the bond effort.
“The policy our board adopted in February identifies the crucial areas that the water bond needs to address, retaining genuine and vitally-needed improvements to infrastructure and storage while retaining broad statewide water supply benefits,” said Ronald D. Jacobsma, Friant Water Authority General Manager.
KEY POLICY POINTS
The policy calls for the bond to include three broad goals:
- Provide safe and clean drinking water for all Californians.
- Creating and expanding opportunities for disadvantaged communities to access and maintain safe and clean drinking water.
- Preventing and reducing contamination of groundwater that serves as drinking water.
- Improving the function and operation of small community wastewater treatment systems to protect water quality and prevent contamination of surface and groundwater resources.
- Assisting regional water managers in implementing important water quality and water supply reliability projects.
- Implement the co-equal goals of improving Delta ecosystem health and water supply availability and reliability.
- Providing funding to Delta communities and local governments to support Delta sustainability options and protect the local agricultural economy.
- Protecting and enhancing sustainability of the Delta ecosystem.
- Planning and constructing conservation projects and facilities to improve water quality and supply availability and reliability.
- Enhance statewide water system management.
- Creating new surface water storage with the capabilities of addressing climate change, improving urban and rural availability of water supplies, and providing public benefits.
- Providing opportunities for new groundwater storage and contamination prevention projects.
- Improving local and regional storage through conjunctive use and reservoir reoperation projects.
Meanwhile, panelists at a March 5 symposium in Sacramento said the water bond needs trimming but added the 2009 measure should remain the starting point for any legislative talks this year
Speaking at the Association of California Water Agencies event, ACWA Executive Director Tim Quinn said the bond would fund the co-equal goals of water reliability and ecosystem restoration. Those were key to the landmark package of water bills approved in 2009.
Mark Cowin, California Department of Water Resources Director, stressed that the 2009 package of policy bills and bond proposal “represents a rare pathway to agreement. We ought to use that as the starting point for the negotiations.
Cowin said Governor Brown has taken no formal position on the size or contents of the bond.
Cowin called for the bond to fund Delta habitat restoration in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), funding for Delta levees and Delta interests, state matching funding for Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) and funding for water storage.
“More water storage is going to be essential to keep the water supply reliability we see today,” Cowin said.
Danny Curtain, director of the California Conference of Carpenters and a member of the California Water Commission, said that part of the problem is that water agencies have done such a good job delivering clean, cheap water, that voters may think no change is needed.