August 15, 2014, Vol. 7, No. 26
In this Issue:
- Legislature Agrees on Bi-partisan Water Bond for November Ballot
- Prayers for People Facing Crises in Iraq, Gaza, Africa
- Focus and Farewells Characterize End of Legislative Session
- On the Web
Legislature Agrees on Bi-partisan Water Bond for November Ballot
After strong and extensive negotiations all week, Democrats and Republicans came together late Wednesday on a comprehensive water bond package that Governor Brown signed hours after it passed. With no end in sight to the record-breaking drought gripping California, the water bond package became especially critical in a state where water politics drives more decisions than most residents realize.
"Water is the lifeblood of any civilization and for California it's the precondition of healthy rivers, valleys, farms and a strong economy," said Governor Brown. "With this water bond, legislators from both parties have affirmed their faith in California's future."
The bond – approved unanimously in the Senate and with only two nay votes in the Assembly - provides for water use efficiency and recycling; groundwater cleanup and management; and additional funds for water storage. While it does not help or hinder a controversial Sacramento Delta tunnel proposal, it invests in safe drinking water, particularly in disadvantaged communities, and provides for watershed restoration and increased flows in some of California's most important rivers and streams. An outline of the final bond can be found here.
Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway, of Tulare, stated, “I am pleased that the Legislature today was able to come together and reach an agreement to place an alternative water bond before the voters this November.” Throughout the process, Republicans stressed that the most important component of any water bond proposal should be above-ground storage.
Despite the bi-partisan backslapping, however, the legislature is still facing what might be a ferocious debate on the “third-rail” of water politics in the state - groundwater. Since California entered the Union, property owners have had the right to water under their land and we remain the only western state not to regulate groundwater. Proponents of regulation want to use the drought to address that issue. Farmers, who depend on groundwater, fiercely oppose such action.
The water bond will go before voters this November, listed as Proposition 1 at the top of the ballot.