Water Bond Prospects

Polling Shows Support As Discussions Continue On Three Different 2014 Courses Proposals Could Steer

As discussions continue on three differing revised versions of a comprehensive water bond, recent polling appears to show a majority of Californians are well aware of the state’s water crisis.
Surveys do seem to differ on how much support voters share for what a water bond would cost.
At issue is how, or whether, to revise an $11.2 billion water bond that has been twice delayed through Legislative action from going before voters. It is now scheduled for the 2014 ballot.
There are two new and smaller bond proposals emerging from the state Senate and Assembly, as well as a broader measure fashioned by the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA), a plan that has considerable backing among water providers.
ACWA’s proposal is for an $8.2 billion bond that would help fund many of the elements contained in the original bond, approved by bipartisan action in 2009.
New surface water storage facilities, such as the proposed reservoir known as Temperance Flat on the San Joaquin River east of Friant Dam, would receive $3 billion in continuous appropriations with $2.25 billion for Delta sustainability projects, $2.115 billion for local resources development (that could benefit Friant districts), and $800 million for watershed projects.
Assembly Member Anthony Rendon’s (D-LAKEWOOD) AB 1331 is considerably slimmer. It would contain $1.5 billion (continuously appropriated) for storage, $2.5 billion for local resources, $1 billion for the Delta and $1.5 billion for watersheds.
Senator Lois Wolk (D-DAVIS) has authored a measure favored by the environmental justice and environmental communities. It provides comparatively little – $1 billion for storage and $600 million for the crucial Delta – for projects that were a focus of the original water bond. Wolk would provide $2.8 billion for local resources, $1.1 billion for watersheds and $975 million for flood management.
Friant Water Authority Assistant General Manager Mario Santoyo, who has met with a number of legislators about the bond, was one of the presenters who explained the issue recently during the annual League of California Cities Conference and Expo in Sacramento. He was encouraged that delegates for the first time took a position in favor of a water bond after having taken no position in the past.
Santoyo predicted there would be further changes proposed when the Legislature reconvenes in January.
A recent statewide survey of 1,000 voters conducted in August for Clean Water & Jobs for California by Probolsky Research detected positive public reception for an $8 billion water bond package if it were to improve water supplies as well as native fisheries and habitats. “The intensity of informed support is more than double that of the opposition,” the firm said.
Santoyo observed, “If you look at any of the surveys that are done you’ll find that Californians as a whole recognize water as being a very important issue. Two additional areas include if they are willing to invest and what are they willing to invest in. It all depends on how you ask the question. You’ll get differing answers depending on how you ask the question.” In fact, a recent USC-Los Angeles Times poll suggested there is considerably less support for a bond based on the need to pay for it.
Santoyo said the polls do indicate “Californians are definitely interested in their water supply” but he said surveys also demonstrate that there is a lack of public education on the issue.

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