Reaction to the water deal that was approved over the last few days, first by the Senate and then by the Assembly, has been trickling in. If you care to listen to an hour-long program, I recommend the KQED Forum program embedded here.
There was some question as to what the federal response to the measure would be. And, well, apparently Sec. of the Interior Ken Salazar is on board:
Thanks to the California legislature and Governor Schwarzenegger, Californians now have the opportunity to choose a more secure and sustainable water future. This landmark package is a critical step toward bringing California’s water infrastructure into the 21st century while restoring California’s Bay Delta, on which millions of Californians depend for clean drinking water and their livelihoods. I applaud the leadership, courage, and vision of everyone who helped bring this desperately-needed legislation across the finish line. We will continue to need all hands on deck – at the federal, state, and local levels – in the coming months as we face the possibility of a fourth year of drought and sobering water realities.
And as for DiFi, who has long been close to the Westlands Water District, well, her reaction wasn’t such a mystery.
It should be clear to all of us that the current water infrastructure is inadequate to support California’s growing population and businesses that depend on clean water. This includes people in our cities, the high-tech sector, fisheries, tourism, and of course, our State’s multibillion-dollar agricultural sector. So, this package is really critical to all Californians.
I urge all Californians to support the bond issue. It must be said once more that California has a water infrastructure built for a population of 16 million people. Today, our population is rapidly approaching the 40 million mark. So, the modernization and improvement of our State’s water infrastructure is long overdue.
Meanwhile, on the other side of this, you have a growing crowd of organized labor, including the United Farmworkers Union, the California Teachers Association, and the SEIU State Council. They all have slightly different concerns, but at the heart of it is the financing. They are concerned that the debt service will start devouring the budget, and at an estimated 10% of the budget, that is a reasonable concern.
As others have noted, this package opens the door wide open for a peripheral canal. Whether you think that is a good thing appears to depend on your perspective, with the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District (SRCSD) pounding on this issue.
There’s a long time between now and November 2010, but we will be hearing a lot about this bond by the time we go to the polls.