It's Time to Pass an Essential Water Bond

By Senator Andy Vidak
Saturday, March 15, 2014

Published in the Kern County Valley Ag Voice – March 2014 Issue

The recent rain storm that produced several inches of rain and snow for Northern California certainly was a welcome sight for all of us  who realize the importance of this God-given gift – especially after nearly two months without so much as a drop of rain.

I couldn’t help but think as the rain fell, how much of this valuable resource that could provide water for our farmers and clean drinking water for our families of the Central Valley, was literally being washed out to the ocean before our very eyes.

To make sure California has the ability to capture more of the water before it reaches the ocean, Sen. Anthony Cannella and I have introduced new legislation that will put a water bond on the 2014 ballot that prioritizes water storage, provides clean drinking water, and protects our Delta water supply.

The legislation, Senate Bill 927, would replace the current water bond that is scheduled to be put before the voters where concerns have been raised that the cost of the $11.1 billion water bond is too high and contains too many earmarked regional projects.

SB 927 asks voters to instead approve a $9.2 billion water bond that maintains $3 billion for water storage, uses $2.5 billion to protect the Delta water supply and $1 billion for clean drinking water that includes a boost of $400 million for disadvantaged communities, among other provisions.

This commonsense measure creates what I like to call the three “C’s” – creates water stores, expands the Central Valley’s ability to access to clean drinking water, and allows conveyance of this state’s most valuable resource.

Despite the recent rainfall, this past year was one of the driest years on record, including going more than 50 days without a single drop of rain during December and January in what is supposed to be our state’s wettest period. California must invest in increasing our water supply. Just four years ago this state faced a similar situation, and if we don’t act now our problems will only grow.

Those of us who live in the Valley know that water is life, it’s food and it’s jobs. It’s a crying shame to let this precious resource of fresh water wash out to sea.

I was one of the first legislators to urge the governor to declare a drought emergency, which he finally did in late January. I agree with the governor that simply declaring an emergency will not help it rain, but it does help make managing existing water resources a priority. It’s time for leadership, not delay. It’s time that Sacramento made water storage and access to clean drinking water a state priority.

Commonsense has no party lines and I look forward to working in a bipartisan fashion to ensure we get a water bond on the November ballot that fully funds water storage to protect us in the future.