Sacramento all-nighter produces an $11.1bn package of water bills

Posted on | November 4, 2009 | 2 Comments

Water resources map of California. Source: USGSThe California Legislature passed a wide-ranging water package that includes an $11-billion bond as dawn broke over the Capitol today, reports the Los Angeles Times.

In and Out:

In: 20% voluntary conservation by 2020 by urban areas not farms.

In: a bond measure that started at $12bn, dropped to $9bn then rose again to $11.1bn.

In: $3bn worth of dams demanded by the governor under threat of veto.

In: $2.25bn for Delta restoration and a board to oversee the Delta appointed by the governor and legislature. This would have the power to approve a peripheral canal to channel water around the Delta.

Out: Groundwater monitoring for privately owned properties. The stick, reports the LA Times “is a loss of water funding. Counties and agencies in groundwater basins that didn’t monitor could not receive state water grants or loans.”

Out: Increased penalties and increased enforcement to control illegal water diversion.

The bond needed to pay for these measures will be put before voters next November. From the Sacramento Bee, a further breakdown of the proposed spending: $1.785bn watershed protection; $1.4bn regional water supply projects; $1.25bn water recycling and conservation; $1bn groundwater clean-up and water quality;  $455m local drought relief projects.

For the San Francisco Chronicle report, click here.

To hear Los Angeles Department of Water & Power general manager S. David Freeman and others discuss the new bill on Larry Mantle’s AirTalk on KPCC, click here.

For a thoughtful November 5, 2009 editorial on the deal, go to the Los Angeles Times.

For a backslapathon from all involved agreeing only 24 hours after the vote that their achievement is already “historic,” go to Aquafornia. It’s a giddy day among the pols, so take your nitrous oxide.

Or turn to Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute in the New York Times. “I doubt anyone is truly happy with the major water package that includes complex policy changes and an $11.14 billion bond request that will be put to voters. I’m certainly not.” To keep reading, click here.

Gleick returns to the topic in a deeper fashion in his normal San Francisco Chronicle “City Brights” column. He writes: The worst thing about the bill was the process. Too few powerful interests had too much power to determine the content. Anyone who thinks the days of smoke-filled, back-room deals are over is wrong (except, perhaps, about the smoke). Too many other people, communities, and organizations were left out of the process. And while many of us were pressured to support, or oppose, the bills by various friends and colleagues, it became impossible to even understand what bill we were being asked to support, as day by day, hour by hour, good pieces were cut out or weakened and bad things inserted. Even at the very last minute, the bill was significantly watered down in desperate deals cut by a few special interests. This is bad, bad process. The biggest problems with California water have still not been addressed or fixed in these bills and the most productive question is, how can we move forward from here?” To keep reading, click here.

This post has been updated. Last update 11/06/2009 9.28pm.


2 Responses to “Sacramento all-nighter produces an $11.1bn package of water bills”

  1. Streaming in from the blogosphere « L.A. Creek Freak
    November 6th, 2009 @ 3:43 pm

    […] praise and criticism, and just point you to the article.  Emily Green at Chance of Rain neatly summarizes the compromise (and gets extra credit for use of the word backslapathon in a sentence) and gives a blow-by-blow […]

  2. Misplaced Optimism on Water Bill | Conservation Blog
    November 7th, 2009 @ 8:16 am

    […] monitoring and penalties for excessive diversions. That was wrong. The bill that was passed has toothless versions of those […]

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