Water bond measure heading to November ballot: $7.5 billion doesn’t include money to build tunnels

  ·  Bryan M. Gold, Elk Grove Citizen   ·   Link to Article

$7.5 billion doesn’t include money to build tunnels

Local and state officials hailed a $7.5 billion water bond measure that will appear on the Nov. 4 ballot since it doesn’t include money for proposed tunnels to carry Delta water to southern California.

California Gov. Jerry Brown and the state legislature on Aug. 13 approved placing the bond on the ballot.

If approved by voters, the money would primarily go toward upgrading the state’s water supply and infrastructure while also protecting ecosystems in the Delta. The measure would authorize more than $7 billion in new borrowing and use $425 million in approved but unspent state bond money.

This bond also puts $2.7 billion toward storage projects including reservoirs and $800 million to clean up groundwater contaminants.

“Water is the lifeblood of any civilization and for California it’s the precondition of healthy rivers, valleys, farms, and a strong economy,” Brown said in a statement after signing the legislation approved 77-2 by the State Assembly and 37-0 by the State Senate.

He added, “With this water bond, legislators from both parties have affirmed their faith in California’s future.”

This bond measure replaces an $11 billion bond that was written in 2009 and scheduled for the ballot in a few months.

“The new water bond is far better than the 2009 version, both for what it contains and what it doesn’t,” said Sacramento County Supervisor Don Nottoli, whose district includes Elk Grove and the Delta.

Nottoli said money would support the Delta Conservancy’s efforts to restore and protect the Delta, assist in water-related agricultural sustainability projects, and fund levee improvement in the area.

He added that the measure “explicitly prohibits spending any monies to advance the construction of the proposed twin tunnels.”

State officials including Brown want to build tunnels under the Delta to create a way to supply and transport water to 25 million Californians and more than 3 million acres of farmland.

The Bay Delta Conservation Plan is designed to meet required goals in the 2009 Delta Reform Act, which intends to restore the Delta’s ecosystem and improve the reliability of water it supplies to two out of three Californians.

State Sen. Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton), whose district in one part ends at the Cosumnes River, is the chair of her chamber’s Agriculture Committee.

“In this time of unprecedented drought, I am proud to support a water bond that includes both above-ground and underground storage, water re-use and recycling and funds for safe, clean drinking water,” she said. “Importantly, this proposal is tunnel neutral.”

Galgiani added that she looks forward to continuing her work with Brown “to ensure full appropriation of levee protection and flood prevention.”

Assembly Member Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), who represents Elk Grove, agreed with his Senate colleague.

“California is facing one of the most severe droughts on record and this measure, which will bring more than $100 million to the Sacramento region for flood control management and drought relief, is needed more than ever,” he said.