State Lawmakers Agree on $7.5 Billion Water Bond for Nov. Ballot

Published 08/14 2014 06:24PM

Updated 08/14 2014 06:33PM

Central Valley lawmakers are calling the water bond agreement reached Wednesday night an historic move.

Californians will vote on the $7.5 billion water bond in November.
The bill sets aside $2.7 billion for water storage projects that Valley leaders say will help in times of extreme drought.

"This is a good sign. This is a long-term investment. California hasn't made major infrastructure improvements to its water system in at least 40 years," says Ryan Jacobsen with the Fresno County Farm Bureau. 

The bill is a trimmed down version of the $11.1 billion water bond it's replacing.

Lawmakers reached an agreement with overwhelming bipartisan support.      

"We feel like that is real money that can address--immediately start some projects," says Republican Assemblymember Connie Conway, who represents Tulare. 

With $2.7 billion in funding for water storage, two projects are planned that would capture water--the Sites Reservoir in Northern California and Temperance Flat Dam in the Central Valley.

"We're hoping that we can get these projects started within three years, start moving dirt and doing all this. If we don't start that, then we have failed," says Manuel Cunha with the Nisei Farmers League.  

Democratic Congressman Jim Costa says those projects are long-term solutions, and he's working with Congress for more immediate help.

"But we are also working in Washington (D.C.) to raise Shasta Dam 18 feet, which would provide significant additional storage supply," Costa says. 

The rest of the funding would be dedicated to ensuring safe drinking water, recycling water, managing areas for flood control, and protecting lakes and rivers.

The bond prohibits any funding to be used for Governor Jerry Brown's controversial Bay Delta Conservation Plan.

This water bond will be on November ballots this year as Proposition 1.

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