Water Bond Discussions, Decisions Are At The Wire
The state’s ballot measure clock has officially run out on framing a new and different California water bond but just like teams in the hotly contested World Cup state Legislators are in extra time.
As the FRIANT WATERLINE went to press July 1, it remained unclear what lawmakers would do with the variety of proposals on the table, and whether or not California voters in the November general election might be making a decision on the $11.2 billion bond measure enacted in 2009.
The Friant Water Authority was involved deeply in the huge bipartisan effort that went into framing the 2009 bond, which succeeding legislators have postponed twice (in 2010 and 2012). It is now scheduled to appear on November’s ballot. The Authority remains engaged in the issue. FWA directors officially remain supportive of the 2009 measure.
ADEQUATE STORAGE FUNDS
Friant directors continue to insist that any substitute bond plan “have a strong emphasis on adequacy and key components that include $3 billion for the development of additional surface water storage, possibly including the proposed Temperance Flat Reservoir on the San Joaquin River above Friant Dam, said FWA General Manager Ronald D. Jacobsma.
Along with keeping the existing bond’s surface storage provisions and their $3 billion in bond funding intact, Friant continues to support adequate funding to help resolve the Delta’s many problems in order to help restore water supply certainty in much of California.
The FWA also supports funding for integrated regional water management and assistance to disadvantaged communities to solve water quality woes, and merits of conservation programs. The only proposal acted upon by press timefell short of a two-thirds Senate majority needed for approval of a water bond proposed by Senator Lois Wolk (D-DAVIS). Opponents were concerned the Wolk measure lacked adequate funding for storage and the Delta, and was not comprehensive.
Since then, Governor Brown has finally weighed in with a $6 billion bond proposal and Senate President Pro Temp Darrel Steinberg (D-SACRAMENTO) is proposing to introduce a $7 billion proposal but both are viewed as falling short of what is necessary for new storage and lack funding for conveyance, including an interconnection project across the valley that would ease regional water transfers.
Three other bills are in play, by Assembly Members Henry T. Perea (D-FRESNO), Anthony Rendon (D-LAKEWOOD), and Frank Bigelow (R-O’NEALS) and Connie Conway (R-VISALIA). Extensive negotiations in search of compromise legislation began June 25. A Fresno legislative water bond update is being arranged for July 10.