Water - it's easy to take it for granted. We take our showers, use it to make our cup of coffee, wash our hands, water our lawns, and of course, drink it.
What's more, our state depends on water for economics, with our agricultural communities creating thousands of jobs for our friends and neighbors, creating millions of dollars in revenues and producing food resources not only for California, but our nation and the world.
Bottom-line, we expect and need water to be available at all times and when we don't have it, the realization hits that we really do, in fact, depend on it.
And in the midst of the worst drought in California history - with no signs of relief in sight - if we don't act immediately, we will learn a very hard lesson sooner than later how much we depend on water as individuals, communities, cities, and ultimately, a state.
Last week, the Legislature and the Governor came together to craft a new $7.5 billion water bond for the November ballot. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and only had two no votes in the Assembly.
It's rare that we can all agree on an issue so controversial.
This new bond was a long time coming. In March, I joined the Senate working group to renegotiate the 2009 $11.1 billion bond. It seemed that it was a bond that everyone had come to hate. It had billions in pork projects and the media had largely turned against it. The Assembly also had proposals, but neither side was able to come to an agreement.
Two weeks ago, Governor Brown weighed in with a $6 billion bond. As a fiscally-responsible legislator, I understood the Governor's apprehension in supporting a larger bond, on the other hand, I also knew the devastating consequences if we did not invest in the future. His proposal was a non-starter because it only contained $2 billion for new storage. With already record low reservoir levels, we absolutely need to concentrate on creating surface water storage reservoirs, like Temperance Flat and Sites Reservoirs.
The important part, though, was that all parties were engaged in this process of crafting a new water bond that recognized the need for storage, Delta restoration, and clean water.
Because we held firm, we were able to get $2.7 billion for new storage - a piece of the water puzzle that is absolutely essential to not only rebuilding our archaic water system built 50 years ago, but ensuring we continue to receive this increasingly precious resource now and for years to come. This bond retains 90 percent of the funding for storage that was contained in the 2009 bond. Storage was just 27 percent of the original $11.1 billion bond. Because of the cuts to other areas, it is now 36 percent. This bond's allocation will allow us to build new infrastructure for the future.
We have kept the necessary funding to bring more water into our water system through surface storage, groundwater sustainability, and clean water. There is $725 million for water recycling and $200 million for stormwater capture projects. There is $520 million to clean up our drinking water and $750 million to prevent and reduce groundwater contamination.
For our region, this is very crucial. We have seen levels of subsidence in the Central Valley that are far too great. In the Salinas Valley, we are battling saltwater intrusion. In both regions, we have communities that cannot drink the water out of their taps. For the richest state in the richest country in the world, this is unacceptable.
This bond also eliminates the pork that did not provide additional water to the system and would have made it much harder to convince voters to pass the bond. If we would have kept the original bond, we would have missed a window to do what is right for the entire state. I can honestly say that this is the toughest issue I have faced since joining the Senate.
This victory shows how government should run. The 2009 bond barely made it through the Legislature and was cobbled together in middle-of-the-night negotiations. This new bond had overwhelming bipartisan support. We all came together to represent not just our constituents but to prepare California for the future. I am proud of the work done to create this new bond, and hopefully, Californians understand the importance of this bond and will pass it in November.
Senator Cannella can be reached at 918 15th Street, Modesto; (209) 577-6592 or by fax at (209) 577-4963.