California’s future depends on water, enough to sustain a vast agricultural industry along with a population of almost 38 million people. Aging infrastructure designed 50 years ago for a much smaller population, combined with the ongoing drought, make water the most pressing issue facing California.
A bond proposal addressing our water supply needs passed the Legislature in 2009, subject to voter approval. However, the vote was delayed due to the state’s shaky finances and the project’s high costs. Now scheduled for a vote this November, the $11.1 billion bond has generated fierce debate and a growing list of alternative proposals.
Throughout these discussions, I have stressed the need for more water storage facilities to serve the large agricultural industry in northern San Diego and southwest Riverside counties. Water storage north of the Tehachapi Mountains will do little to help our local farmers. Unfortunately, in the minds of many northern legislators, Los Angeles and Disneyland are all there is to Southern California. They simply refuse to understand why we need more water storage this far south.
The Governor insists he will not support any water bond in excess of $6 billion. Consequently, current bond proposals that would allocate up to $3 billion for storage are likely to be pared back. With negotiations now stalled, a special legislative session later this month is likely. However, if no agreement is reached, the original $11.1 billion bond proposal will be submitted to voters in November.
As is frequently the case in California, the people will have the final say.