It's Time for Leadership, Not Delay, on the Water Bond

by Senator Andy Vidak
Sunday, June 15, 2014

Published in the Kern County Valley Ag Voice - June 2014 Issue

Tick Tock, Tick Tock.

The deadline is looming for the California Legislature to get a comprehensive water bond approved in time to be put before the voters in November.  With just a little over 10 weeks remaining before the end of the 2013-14 Legislative Session, a bi-partisan agreement has yet to be reached.

While several water bonds remain in play, I believe that any viable proposal must contain three priorities to improve our water infrastructure.  I’ve dubbed these priorities the three C’s – it must create new water storage; provide funds for clean drinking water in regions of the state where it is most needed;  and convey water from one region of the state to another.

One of my top priorities since coming to Sacramento has been to find a multi-pronged solution to this water crisis that has gripped our Central Valley and our ag industry more than anywhere else in this state.

Legislation I authored with Sen. Anthony Cannella earlier this year – Senate Bill 927 – aims at replacing the current $11 billion pork-filled water bond with a pared down version that proposed asking voters to approve a $9.2 billion water bond. This bond includes $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.

This legislation has gotten bipartisan support, and I expect that parts of SB 927 will be in the final bill that the Legislature will likely vote on in August.

While getting a quality water bond on the ballot this November is a key long-term solution, it will not solve the water crisis today. I’ve called on Governor Brown to put pressure on the president to use his authority to find innovative ways to get desperately-needed water to the Central Valley before the crops in this area dry up and the tens of thousands of jobs associated with agriculture disappear.

Leaders in California continue to talk about the need for creating new types of jobs, which is a noble goal, but protecting current jobs in California must also be a priority. The severe lack of water for agriculture puts at risk jobs that will be lost forever if a solution to this crisis is not resolved quickly.

As we near the close of the legislative session, I will continue to work towards “real” solutions that will provide permanent water relief to the ag industry, farmworkers and residents of our Valley.

The clock is ticking.  It’s time for leadership, not delay.