Water is, by far, the biggest issue facing California today as we endure the driest year in our state's history. With our archaic water system not designed to sustain a rapidly growing California, it is imperative we act now and not later.
Our water system was built 50 years ago to serve a population half our current size; we are nearing an ecological disaster of great proportions as reservoirs have a fraction of their normal storage, ground water is being overdrafted, farmers have stopped farming, workers are being laid off, and communities are facing water rationing.
Even more devastating, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced that the State Water Project (SWP) allocation has been dropped to zero. A zero allotment of water is devastating as those expecting water from the SWP have to plan for the worst. That's why we must take action now to ensure we do not revisit the situation we faced four years ago, when a quarter-million acres of productive farmland was fallowed, communities experienced unemployment rates of over 40%, and the state had to provide emergency food distribution.
That's why I have been, and remain committed to, taking an active part in placing a new water bond on the ballot, recently announcing new legislation with Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) for a new water bond package that will increase our state's water storage and access to clean water. This bill, SB 927, prioritizes storage, clean drinking water and Delta sustainability.
What's more, this bond decreases the original $11.1 billion bond by $2 billion, eliminating billions of dollars of earmarks that do not provide additional water.
SB 927 maintains $3 billion for water storage, $2.5 billion to protect the Delta water supply and $1 billion for clean drinking water with a boost of $400 million for disadvantaged communities that cannot drink the water coming from their taps.
It also pares down the water bond the Legislature negotiated in 2009 to focus on water projects that are essential to move, store or clean water - and that's important - we must keep water in the water bond and eliminate superfluous earmarks that do not increase the state's water supply. If we do not act this year, our problems will only grow.
That is why your vote of support this November for this water bond package is crucial to sustaining our Central Valley - and beyond. It's more than just a water issue, it's a quality of life issue, impacting our health, economic prosperity, and environment.
SB 927 will not only preserve our access to precious water resources, but will also create additional surface and groundwater storage projects, which in turn will improve water quality and flood protection, ensuring we have clean water now and far into the future.
Our water system has reached its capacity and if we don't act now, the consequences will be catastrophic for our Central Valley and the state. This bond is a prime example of how we can work to build a better California, now.