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New California water bond measures endorsed by key policy group

The Association of California Wager Agencies, whose 430 public agency members handle 90 percent of the water sent to farms and cities, backs a pair of bond measures slated for the June and November 2018 ballots, respectively.
Tim Hearden

Capital Press

Published on November 27, 2017 9:48AM

Gerald Meral

Gerald Meral

SACRAMENTO — Two new water bonds slated to be put before California voters in 2018 have received the endorsement of a key water policy group.

The Association of California Water Agencies’ board has voted unanimously to support a $4 billion June ballot measure for water and parks projects and an anticipated $8.9 billion November initiative proposed by former state resources official Gerald Meral.

ACWA Executive Director Timothy Quinn said the bonds would provide critical funding for water management projects ranging from recycling technologies to groundwater recharge and flood protection.

“We view (the measures) as complementary,” Quinn told the Capital Press. He added the bonds “would provide needed funds to continue to implement (Gov. Jerry Brown’s) Water Action Plan.”

The ACWA, whose 430 public agency members handle 90 percent of the water delivered to the state’s cities, farms and businesses, was set to give a presentation on the bonds at its fall conference Nov. 29 in Anaheim.

Though the measures would come just four years after voters approved Proposition 1, a $7.5 billion water bond, Quinn believes there’s still a willingness among the state’s residents to support water system improvements.

“We would urge voters to look at both sides, and we think they will likely vote yes,” he said. “Water bonds have consistently been successful in California.”

The June measure was placed on the ballot by legislators, who approved a bill by state Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles. The measure will include $750 million for flood protection and prevention and $500 million for such projects as safe drinking water and groundwater sustainability.

Meanwhile, Meral, a former deputy secretary of the state Natural Resources Agency, has been gathering signatures this fall for his proposal for such water-related projects as repairs to the sinking Friant-Kern Canal in Tulare and Kern counties.

Meral has said his initiative is “a follow-up” to Proposition 1, noting that it’s heavy on groundwater restoration, waste water recycling and water for fish and wildlife.

“ACWA represents hundreds of water agencies throughout California, and is certainly the most influential water organization in the state,” Meral said in an email. “Their endorsement gives the signal to local water agencies that this measure is highly beneficial to water conservation, development and management in California.”

The proposal comes as the California Water Commission is considering 12 applications for portions of $2.5 billion in Proposition 1 funding for storage projects. The commission expects to make final determinations in June 2018.


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