BREAKING NEWS – CA Legislature passes major water bond proposal

The California Legislature has just this morning passed an $11 billion water bond proposal, which includes over a billion dollars for groundwater storage and other infrastructure projects and also mandates a 20% cutback from current water sources. The proposal is part of a broader state water system overhaul that has been pursued by the State Legislature for months.  The passage of the legislation was praised by Governor Schwarzenegger, who is expected to sign the bills into law.  This is very good news for our public agency partners, as they could potentially access available funds for the water project.  

California legislature passes major water changes
San Francisco Chronicle
By Wyatt Buchanan &Marisa Lagos
November 4, 2009

Sacramento – – The California Legislature passed a sweeping, multi-billion dollar overhaul of the state’s water system this morning, after an all-night session on a plan that has been years in the making.

The package of legislation will impact how Californians will receive and use water and won immediate praise from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“Water is the lifeblood of everything we do in California,” the Republican governor said. “Without clean, reliable water, we cannot build, we cannot farm, we cannot grow and we cannot prosper. That is why I am so proud that the legislature, Democrats and Republicans, came together and tackled one of the most complicated issues in our state’s history. This comprehensive water package is an historic achievement.”

Legislative leaders have worked almost non-stop for weeks on the final deal that includes a $11 billion bond that won approval by slim margins in both the Senate and Assembly.

“This Legislature did something that no Legislature has been able to accomplish in decades,” said Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, who said the package’s success shows the Legislature, “can tackle the biggest and most intractable problems in the state.”

The water package consists of five major parts:
— A new seven-member board to oversee the Delta. The board would consist of gubernatorial and legislative appointees, along with the head of an already existing Delta commission. The board could approve a controversial peripheral canal to channel water around the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
— A 20 percent conservation mandate for urban areas, with credits for cities that have made significant conservation efforts. Agricultural entities will have to follow best practices for water use.
— New regulations to monitor groundwater levels throughout the state.
— Increased penalties for illegal water diversions, though the penalties and enforcement were significantly weakened from the original plan.
— A $11.14 billion bond to pay for the overhaul. Three billion would be set aside for new water storage, which could be reservoirs, along with more than $2 billion for restoration of the Delta ecosystem. Other monies would pay for water recycling, drought relief, conservation and watershed protection projects, among other uses. The bond requires voter approval.

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