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May 2014: Counties Pushing for Comprehensive Water Bond

May 2014: Counties Pushing for Comprehensive Water Bond
Editor's Note: Each month a member of the Board of Supervisors will be featured and deliver a personal note. This message is provided by District 1 Supervisor Allen Ishida.
 
We are in a severe drought. There has been little rain. Farmers are pulling crops and fallowing land. Entire communities are on the brink of having no water. Some homeowners with domestic wells are already dry.
 
A majority of the public believe the drought is due to the lack of rain – that is partially true. The other part to blame is the lack of investment in California’s water infrastructure. This could all change in November. 
 
The California Water Bond is on the November 4, 2014 ballot in California. The measure, upon voter approval, would enact the Safe, Clean and Reliable Drinking Water Supply Act. If approved, it will allow the State government to borrow approximately $10 billion for drinking water and water supply reliability programs. 
 
This water bond has been put off by the State Legislature for years because they had their sights set on other issues. Something needs to be done this year or we will continue to suffer.
 
While there is no question a bond will be placed on the ballot, I am concerned with what will be included in the package put forth to voters. Past water plans have not included funding to build or improve important water projects that store and deliver water statewide.
 
In April 2014, San Joaquin County Supervisor Larry Ruhstaller and I co-authored a letter to each of the other 56 Boards of Supervisors in California. The purpose of the letter is to unite Counties and show that a broad spectrum of Supervisors – representing a vast geographical majority of California – want to ensure that a successful water bond will be on the ballot. We asked the Boards of Supervisors to sign a letter that requests the State Legislature to include the following in the California Water Bond:
 
- Continuous funding for water storage, above and below ground, to ensure the projects will be completed.
- An investment in the State’s existing levee system.
- Funding for watershed management and restoration. 
 
Since the letter was sent out, there has been much discussion statewide from various Boards of Supervisors. To date, at least one Supervisor from 13 different counties have signed onto the letter; seven other counties are expected to sign; and nine have not agreed to sign. Staff from San Joaquin and Tulare counties will continue to follow up with the other Counties and urge them to join our effort.
 
Any future investment in California's water infrastructure should consider how all Counties statewide contribute to the overall quality of our economy, environment and sustainability.  This coalition of counties signing on to this letter understands that the future of this State is inextricably linked to our ability to solve the discrepancy between water supply and demand in California.  We all understand that the support of the voters is required for any water bond's passage; however, the minimum amount of support should not be the goal.  The Legislature and the Governor should strive to craft a water bond that will produce overwhelming support from all of California.  No part of this great State should be advantaged in our water policy at the expense of another – this is our common belief.