Legislature Agrees to $7.5B Water Bond

Don Pedro DamBond includes additional storage money from Governor’s previous $6B proposal

by Brian Leubitz

It is a rare day in California when our Republicans are pushing for additional debt, but that is exactly what happened in the negotiations surrounding the water bond. The Legislature was pushing up against the deadline to replace the old, larger water bond on the ballot, everybody wanted to put a slimmer package on the ballot, and wanted it to pass. So, huzzah, here we are: a 2/3 majority for a bond package.

A slew of last minute changes wrought during a marathon negotiating session were key to winning support from Republican and Central Valley lawmakers who had threatened to block the bond unless it increased funding for reservoirs as the state struggles through a third devastating year of drought. The bill needed their support to muster the two-thirds majority needed to pass.

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More than a third of the bond — $2.7 billion — is dedicated to construction of dams, reservoirs and other water storage solutions. Projects to protect and restore rivers, lakes and watersheds will get $1.5 billion, or close to 20 percent of the package.

The bond will also allocate $900 million to groundwater cleanup and sustainability, $810 million to drought preparedness, $725 million for water recycling, $520 million to cleanse some small communities’ drinking water supply and $395 million for flood management.(SJ Merc)

This package could certainly be better, and we could do more to encourage conservation, but it has become clear that we need to overhaul our water infrastructure for several years now. And fortunately, this bond is “tunnel neutral” with no mention of the politically charged fight to route water around the Bay Delta.

So, if this passes, expect to see some more dam construction. Hopefully with more modern equipment than in this photo of the construction of Don Pedro Dam in 1924.

One thought on “Legislature Agrees to $7.5B Water Bond”

  1. Restore the Delta says the Water Bond has a sneaky provision to spend $485M sending Norcal water thru the tunnels (see Dan Bacher’s Calitics post on this from yesterday). Can Jerry Brown be trusted on this score? Of course not. Besides, the pumped storage dams (like Sites) are major public works turkeys.

    We’re going to hear how wonderful it is to have $7.5B to defeat The Drought. But it’s really like throwing money at the sky to make it rain. There are a whole bunch of things CA could invest in to make water use smarter, while also creating jobs for construction workers. We just recently saw how horrible the delivery infrastructure in L.A. is (Westwood/UCLA). That’s not the only place in need of substantial repair. S.F. is starting to worry big time about the possible failure of the Hetch Hetchy Tunnel. To bad the Legislature sold out to the water grabbing whiners like Westlands, big donors like the Resnicks, and frackers like Chevron.

    CA’s N-to-S water supply “system” has never been sustainable. Spending megabucks on the water equivalent of a “drill, baby, drill” approach doesn’t solve anything except stroking Jerry’s ego and lining the pockets of the thirsty billionaires and Corporate Ag Welfare Queens in the Southern San Joaquin Valley.

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