Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today issued the following statement after signing legislation to extend the deadline to place a new water bond on the November ballot and renumber the Rainy Day Fund ballot measure:
“Today’s legislative action provides additional time to get an acceptable water bond — one that’s affordable and considers the needs of all Californians. Let’s work together to get this done.”
For full text of the bills signed today, SB 1195 by Senator Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) – State Ballot Pamphlet and SB 867 by the Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review – State Reserve Fund Ballot Measure, visit: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov.
Today’s action follows the introduction of an updated water bond proposal, which can be found here and here.
Reactions to today’s developments:
Senator Dianne Feinstein issued the following statement:
“Governor Brown and the legislature have worked hard to revise the water bond to provide sufficient funds for water storage and other priority issues. Today’s proposal includes $7.2 billion for California’s most pressing water infrastructure needs including water storage, Delta restoration, levee improvements, groundwater remediation and water reuse. I hope members of the legislature act quickly to place it on the ballot and I will do all I can to help get it passed this November.”
Restore the Delta issued the following statement:
“Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Gov. Brown’s rush to build Peripheral Tunnels that would drain the Delta and doom sustainable farms, and salmon and other Pacific fisheries, today cited several specific provisions of Governor Brown’s water bond proposal that are NOT “tunnels neutral.” We call upon the governor and the legislature to remove taxpayer funding that would replace needed river water flows taken by the tunnels, and have taxpayers fund mitigating tunnels damage.
We have identified specific provisions in the governor’s bond proposal that are intended to enable or mitigate the water export tunnels. “The governor and others claim their proposals are ‘tunnels neutral’ while at the same time funding mitigation or replacement water,” said Barrigan-Parrilla. “If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck and quacks like a duck; it’s a duck. These provisions quack loudly and they say, ‘thanks for funding activities essential to building the massive water export tunnels for a few mega-grower billionaires.” … ”
From the Sierra Club and the Planning and Conservation League, issued this morning:
“The bond proposal being discussed today still has several fatal flaws that can be readily verified:
1. Loophole 1: The bond would enable the Bay Delta tunnels by purchasing water that could be diverted: The governor’s proposal requires that purchased water must be done in accordance with Section 1707 of the water code. This provision would NOT protect the Delta. Using Section 1707 does not require water to be dedicated all the way through the Delta. For instance, under the proposed bond, California Department of Fish and Wildlife could use bond funds to buy water that would be dedicated to a river upstream of the Delta. But under Section 1707 once the water reaches the Delta it could be diverted into the tunnels.
Also, the public dollars could still be wasted on short term water purchases. In one section there is only a “preference” for water transfers of 20 years or longer. This would be a repeat of the failed Environmental Water Account.
2. Loophole 2: The restrictions in this bond expressly do not talk about BDCP, they only reference “conveyance”. The bond could still be used to pay for mitigation of parts of the entire BDCP package legally required for the tunnels, even if it would not pay for mitigation of the tunnel digging itself.
3. Unbalanced bond. $200 million for water purchases is such a large amount that it reduces funding available for worthwhile projects needed to meet critical water needs in other areas of the State.
4. Water Storage Money Would Not Be Available for Central and North Coast regions. The governor’s proposal retains the storage funding distribution criteria from Chapter 8 of the $11.1 billion 2009 bond on the ballot, which restricts storage spending to a limited geography in the state.
5. Water Storage Money Would Give Preference to Recreational Uses. The criteria in the water storage section would promote three dam projects in the Central Valley by requiring preference be given to projects that allow recreation, such as water skiing. Groundwater storage is virtually excluded from fair competition for the funds.