Bond to lessen drought woes

Proposition 1 to boost water reserves, supply fresh water statewide

By Lorenzo Morotti, Editor-in-Chief

A rift has been created between environmentalist groups and the state Senate over the “Water Bond. Funding for Water Quality, Supply, Treatment, and Storage Projects,” or, as it appears on the ballot, Proposition 1.

The majority of the 38 million residents of the state have had to endure a severe drought this year that has exposed weaknesses within California’s water systems.

On Tuesday, this is an issue that voters will have an opportunity to address.

Gov. Jerry Brown, the leading proponent of Proposition 1, said that residents statewide would benefit in the long-term by approving this initiative to create plans and safeguards in case of future water issues.

The initiative proposes that the state owe $7.5 billion in general obligation bonds to be paid over the course of 40 years for various water conservation and crisis protection projects statewide.

Those opposed to the proposition are mainly Northern California fishing industries and environmental groups who say the proposition, if passed, would endanger rivers and fishing jobs.

They fear that it would divert too much water to Southern California and that these projects would destroy estuaries and deltas.

Their fears stem from a prior $11 billion initiative in the proposition’s original language that would have created a large pipeline to send water to dryer areas of the state. This “twin tunnel” project was removed from Proposition 1.

In 2009, the initiative was put on hold while Brown created a more refined version of the initiative that did not include the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, a 35-mile-long twin tunnel project through the delta.

If Proposition 1 passes, it would create a water plan to provide safe drinking water statewide and store water by building dams, restoring watersheds and building water recycling facilities.
Water supplies would be managed by the state to be used during years of drought to protect farms and businesses.

The proposition plans to supply sufficient, as well as clean, amounts of water to those living in dryer areas of Southern California and the Central Valley, areas that do not have safely drinkable tap water.

Specific funding for the projects include $2.7 billion for dam and groundwater projects, which is to also be used to cover restoring habitats, improving water quality and preventing floods.

Californians Against More Debt, Misplaced Spending are also in opposition of the bill, claiming that the bond would put residents statewide in excessive debt.

If voters approve the bond, it would allocate $520 million to these disadvantaged residents who are without drinkable tap water.

The bond would allocate about $900 million toward cleaning contaminated aquifers and groundwater, while $1.5 million would be used to restore and protect watersheds, lakes and rivers.

To prepare for the next drought, it would allocate $810 million and $725 million to recycling drainage water for consumption.

An additional $1.4 billion would be used to improve both groundwater and surface water quality, along with $395 million to restore the aging levees in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.