Assembly Water Bond Working Group Completes Its Work on “Leaner, Cleaner” State Water Bond

The Water Bond Working Group convened by Assembly Speaker
John A. Pérez and chaired by Assembly Member Anthony Rendon has completed its
initial work on rebooting the critically flawed water bond passed by the
Legislature in 2009.  Rendon commented:

“I am
very proud of the efforts of the Working Group.  Each member dedicated a
tremendous amount of time representing the priorities and concerns of their
communities and constituents. We convened a very broad and public process to
craft a leaner and cleaner proposal to move forward.”

The product of the Working Group will appear in print in AB
1331, currently in the Senate, on Thursday, September 12.  This initial
revised bond totals $6.5 billion and addresses Drinking Water Quality,
Protecting Rivers & Watersheds, Regional Climate Change Response Projects –
Integrated Regional Water Management, Protecting The Delta, and Water Storage
for Climate Change.

This year, the Assembly took an entirely different approach
to developing a water bond than in 2009.  Instead of a last-minute,
late-night, backroom deal filled with earmarked projects, the Assembly formed a
diverse regional working group of members to start from scratch.  Assembly
Member Rich Gordon, a member of the Working Group, commented:



“What
impressed me most with the Working Group process was the time that my
colleagues committed to engage in a thoughtful and frank debate about some of
the most challenging water issues facing California today.”

The other members of the Working Group included: 
Kevin Mullin, Susan Talamantes-Eggman, Henry Perea, Raul Bocanegra, Toni
Atkins, Mike Gatto, and Wes Chesbro.

The 2013 legislative process
included five public hearings (three in the Assembly; two in the Senate) over
several months, six legislator briefings on water policy and funding, the
development and publication of Assembly Principles that set priorities
and emphasized accountability to the voters, three rounds of public comments, a
visit to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and the publication of the Water
Bond Framework for public review and testimony at a committee
hearing.  All documents have been posted on the Water, Parks &
Wildlife Committee website at: http://awpw.assembly.ca.gov/waterbond.

The Working Group’s development of the Principles
and the Framework reflected the members’ diverse, regional and statewide
perspectives on California’s needs for water bond funding.  Their
discussions and visit to the Delta provided the members with valuable
understanding of each other’s regional water needs.  Assembly Member Susan
Talamantes-Eggman commented:



“I am
pleased that Chairman Rendon spent time with me and my local farmers learning
about the issues and priorities of Delta communities. The product that is now in AB 1331 is a good restart
on discussions about the protecting the Delta and giving our communities a
stronger voice in the process,”

Members from Northern California and Southern California
worked across what is commonly perceived as a regional divide on water issues
to craft the Principles, Framework, and AB 1331.

“AB
1331 contains critical investments in water infrastructure and a commitment to
key efforts like water recycling and regional self-reliance.  These issues
are crucial to Southern California and I look forward to continue working with
Chairman Rendon to deliver the best investment of bond dollars into our
community,”
stated Assembly Member Raul
Bocanegra from Los Angeles County

“Working
with my colleagues in the Working Group showed that we in the Assembly can
craft a bond that provides funding for the most urgent needs of Californians,
including the Bay Area voters who care deeply about statewide water resource
issues.”
stated Assembly Member Kevin Mullin from the San Francisco Bay
Area

The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) states
that competition for water has become intense and the state has run out of
cheap “new” water sources for the urban and agricultural needs of a growing
state.  PPIC also points to the increased costs of drinking water
treatment, risks to public health, lower crop yields, and harm to aquatic
ecosystems that need to be addressed by the state.  The last time
California voters approved a water bond was with Proposition 84 in 2006. 
Furthermore, PPIC notes that the elaborate 20th century water supply
and flood control system that was the cornerstone of California’s economic
success is no longer adequate to satisfy the current and future demands of the
state.

Lastly, the state’s policy and infrastructure was designed
prior to the tectonic shifts in global climate change.  PPIC states a
“more volatile climate now appears to be the norm, with an increasing frequency
and intensity of droughts, floods, extreme high tides, and heat waves.” 
The impact of climate change on the state’s snow pack and the resulting change
in flow and storage forces us to address these challenges NOW.