Water Bond Allows CA to Move Forward

A special report from Senator Tom Berryhill.

When Californians turn on the tap, they expect water to flow.  Pretty simple, unless you live in one of the California communities devastated by drought.  Parts of the central valley and foothills have no more water.  The taps are dry and the question has become, “How do we get water to our families, businesses and communities?”  

For the first time in years, all Californians – and by extension, the entire Legislature – focused on addressing a problem that has plagued California for years:  How do we protect our natural resources, provide clean and reliable water to almost 40 million people, a burgeoning high tech industry and an agriculture industry that feeds the world?  

The passage of a $7.5 billion comprehensive water bond, a bill I’m proud to have coauthored, represents a tremendous victory for bipartisanship.  The bond measure will go before the voters this November.  It is a big win for agriculture, industry, jobs and all of California.    This measure replaces an $11.1-billion proposed bond originally written in 2009 that was set to go before voters in November but had been twice postponed.  

Key components of the measure include $2.7 billion for additional water storage – that’s almost $1 billion more than the governor originally proposed and key to rebuilding an archaic water storage system designed decades ago when California had only 18 million people.  Nearly 40 percent of the bond’s funds are dedicated to water storage, which means there will be adequate funding for two planned storage projects – Sites Reservoir in the Sacramento Valley and Temperance Flat Dam on the San Joaquin River. 

Additional storage is essential for ensuring a viable water system in California for our children and grandchildren.    Other key components include $725 million for recycling, $200 million for storm water capture, protections for existing water rights, area of origin protections, funding for watershed protection, restoration and state settlements, $520 million to clean our drinking water and $750 million to prevent and reduce groundwater contamination.  In addition we have a $100 million commitment from the governor and the Assembly speaker for cross-connectivity of the central valley, which will bring much needed water relief to the hardest hit areas in the state.

We are giving voters a fiscally responsible measure which hits all the high notes for moving and storing water and will cost nearly $4 billion less than the earlier bond.  

It is truly a bipartisan effort; one in which differences were put aside and the legislature worked toward something that was right for all of California.  A great model for how things should be done in Sacramento.

As Albert Einstein once said, “Example isn't another way to teach, it is the only way to teach.”  I hope the negotiations on this bond can be an example on how we, as a Legislature, should act when confronting issues that impact all of California.

Senator Berryhill represents the counties of Amador, Calaveras, Fresno, Madera, Mariposa, Mono, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tuolumne and parts of Sacramento. For additional information about Senator Berryhill please visit his website at www.senate.ca.gov/berryhill or sign up for his monthly newsletter here.