Californians this year will vote on not one but two water bond measures totaling $13 billion. Given that the state still hasn’t spent all of the $7.5 billion from the Proposition 1 water bond passed in 2014, it raises a crucial question: Does California really need another $13 billion in water bonds?
Now that congressional action on a major federal infrastructure bill is going nowhere fast, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) loan program, with $40 billion in existing spending authority, is a here-and-now opportunity to address key U.S. infrastructure needs.
California voters are being asked to weigh in on new borrowing, new government restrictions and a drought-friendly tax break on the statewide primary ballots that will be counted June 5. There are five propositions in all, a small menu of proposed laws all written by the California Legislature.
California’s safe drinking water and natural resources are increasingly threatened by drought, wildfires, floods and mudslides. Proposition 68 is designed to help make our communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change. The measure was placed on the June 5 ballot by a bipartisan, two-thirds vote of the Legislature to make much-needed investments to bolster the reliability of our water supply and the infrastructure we depend on to help get us through wet and dry years.
It’s time, Californians, to hold on to our collective wallets. “It does NOT raise taxes,” proponents of Proposition 68 insist in the official state voters’ guide. Then where do they think the money will come from to repay the $4 billion in bonds that are supposed to go for parks and “climate adaptation,” whatever that is? … The Prop. 68 repayment is $7.8 billion – $4 billion in principal, plus $3.8 billion in interest. That means $200 million a year for 40 years from the state’s general fund.
Supporters argue that Prop. 68 is good for parks and good for improving water quality statewide. … Critics like state Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, believe the debt payments on the bond will be anything but small.
Fresh off recent victories securing billions of dollars in financing for his ambitious plan to reroute California’s water system, Gov. Jerry Brown offered a genial yet urgent reminder Thursday of the need to set the project on stable footing before he leaves office next year.
From the San Jose Mercury News, in a commentary by Richard Santos:
In the midst of exceptional drought conditions, a new, locally controlled, drought-proof water source for Silicon Valley could not have come at a better time. The Santa Clara Valley Water District, in partnership with the cities of San Jose and Santa Clara, is celebrating the completion of the Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center.
Gov. Jerry Brown and legislators are negotiating a new water bond that would go before voters in November. If negotiations break down in the next few weeks – and we hope they don’t – voters would decide on a flawed $11 billion water bond crafted in 2009.
Bureau of Reclamation Acting Commissioner Lowell Pimley announced that Reclamation will provide $1.29 million to nine projects for Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse Feasibility Studies. These nine projects are located in California, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas.
Lawmakers in Sacramento representing various factions in the water debate are squabbling over what to include in a bond they submit to voters on the November ballot, or whether to just scrap the whole thing and wait for a better time. There will probably be no better time.
“Capping a rare instance of congressional compromise, President Barack Obama signed a $12.3 billion water projects bill Tuesday, financing improvements ranging from a harbor expansion in Boston to flood control in Iowa and North Dakota. … The new law will pay for 34 new projects over the next 10 years.”
“President Obama on Tuesday signed authorization for 34 Army Corps of Engineers water-related projects nationwide, including a long-sought green light for restoration projects in Dry Creek, allowing badly needed reservoir water to continue to flow sufficiently to meet the needs in Sonoma and northern Marin counties without an estimated $300 million bypass pipeline.”
From The Sacramento Bee, in a commentary by U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. Doris Matsui:
“Congress came together last month to pass the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 with overwhelming bipartisan support in both houses. The Senate approved it 91-7, and the House vote was 412-4; the entire California delegation supported it. On Tuesday, President Barack Obama signed the act.”
“About $120 million in new federal spending is headed for the greater Sacramento region over the next 18 months for water and flood-control projects.
“The funding, announced Tuesday, is part of a “work plan” budget allocation for the the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to continue projects through the current fiscal year, which runs through September.”