Posted August 19, 2014
On August 13, California lawmakers agreed on a $7.5 billion water plan, which includes $2.7 billion for water storage, according to a Wall Street Journal article available here. Capital Press also published an article available hereand Bloomberg here.
The plan would be the largest investment in decades, and it is designed to “build reservoirs, clean up contaminated groundwater, and promote water-saving technologies.”
The ballot measure passed through both houses of the Legislature: 77-2 in the Assembly and 37-0 in the Senate.
California Governor Jerry Brown signed the legislation, which was 25 percent higher than he stated the state could afford, into law, according to Bloomberg.
“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.
Groups such as the California Farm Bureau Federation believed that the new bond measure negotiated this year would maintain the $3 billion for dams and reservoirs, which was originally in the $11.1 billion bond passed by the Legislature in 2009, according to Capital Press.
However, the measure began being scaled back to make it more “palatable” to voters, and most agriculture advocates now believe this was the best outcome after a $2 billion budget was introduced for water storage.
“The $2 billion just wasn’t going to cut it,” California Citrus Mutual president Joel Nelsen said. “Even if it passed, we had nothing. Certain farm groups went for $2.5 billion, but it didn’t guarantee either specific storage facility to be built and there was no cross-valley connector, so there was no way to move the water from Point A to Point B. I told the governor that for the rest of us, it wasn’t good enough.”
The plan also includes other provisions, such as $900 million to replenish and clean up groundwater, $810 million for drought preparedness, $725 million for water recycling, and $520 million to cleanse some small communities’ drinking water supply.
For more information on environmental law, please visit the National Agricultural Law Center’s website here.