Late Wednesday evening, the state Legislature passed a rewritten water bond. The California Farm Bureau says it brings the state a step closer to improving its water future.
Although last night’s vote marked the end of more than five years of often difficult negotiations, CFBF President Paul Wenger said it also marks the beginning of a campaign to encourage Californians to invest in our state’s water system.
“The severe water shortages we’re currently experiencing result from 30 years of neglecting our water-storage system. That neglect is magnified by the drought, and it’s time to reverse that pattern of neglect. Placing this water bond on the November ballot gives Californians a chance to provide more water for our cities, for food production and for the environment,” Wenger said.
The revised, $7.5 billion bond measure includes $2.7 billion for water storage projects and that money will be continuously appropriated, meaning that future Legislatures will not be able to redirect it to other uses.
“There’s been a lot of discussion the past few days about the amount of money in the bond that will be devoted to more storage,” Wenger said. “That discussion has been important, and helped convince the governor to support more investment in storage than he had originally. The bottom line is that this bond represents the state’s largest investment in water storage in more than 30 years, and it couldn’t come at a more critical time.
“As the drought has shown us all too well, we have lived too long with an outdated water-storage system,” he said. “We need to update that system to match changing weather patterns, in which more precipitation will fall as rain rather than as snow. Additional surface storage can capture those strong storm surges when they come, prevent flooding and bank that water for later dry times.”
Wenger noted that putting this rewritten bond measure on the ballot is only part of the solution.
“That’s why it’s important that the governor and the Legislature were able to agree on this package,” he said. “We needed to have a bond with the best possible chance of passage. We look forward to the governor’s participation in the campaign for new water storage.”