Water has long been an agricultural and political issue in California but last week state Republicans and Democrats came together to craft a bipartisan water bond that will allocate $7.545 billion to protecting and conserving state water resources.
Last week Gov. Jerry Brown proposed a "no pork, no frills" $6 billion water bond as an alternative to the $11 billion water bond slated to appear on the November ballot originally drafted under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration. With Assembly member Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) calling the proposal a "good start for negotiations" but far too prudent to pass with voter support, both parties worked across the aisle to designate an additional $1.545 billion just in time to appear on the general election ballot this November as Proposition 1.
"I am pleased Republicans held our ground to insist on more money for storage and that the governor and Democrat legislators worked with us and statewide stakeholders this week to develop a bipartisan, viable solution that will protect our state from future drought years and ensure that all Californians have access to our most vital resource," said Olsen. "Now, my colleagues and I will continue to work hard on addressing challenges related to groundwater that will ensure the good health of our aquifers, while empowering local leaders to develop regional plans without unnecessary state interference."
The revised bond will also designate $2.7 billion to the construction of water storage solutions; $1.5 billion towards watershed protections, $810 million to drought preparedness, $725 million for water recycling, and $395 million for flood management.
The governor's $6.1 billion alternative to the $11.1 billion water bond that has been twice postponed in the past five years, allocated $450 million to groundwater conservation which has since doubled with the current water bond's allocation of $900 million to the cleaning and sustainability of groundwater resources. After announcing his alternative water bond last week Brown faced a rebuttal by Senate Republicans who crafted an $8.7 billion proposition and threatened to throw their weight behind the ‘bloated' $11.1 bond if the legislators could not achieve middle ground on the issue.
Having reached a compromise, according to Assemblymember Adam Gray (D-Merced) the new water bond "lays a foundation to meet California's water needs and gives us the resources we need to ensure our dire drought conditions do not repeat themselves in the future.""Not only was this a big win for agriculture, industry, jobs and all of California, it was also a win for bipartisanship. Today we showed that the Legislature works best when we work together for all of California," said Senator Tom Berryhill (R-Twain Harte).