|Legislator proposes $3
billion plan to solve water problems
Local, regional agencies would control the water
ALI BAY, Capital Press
SACRAMENTO, CA - 3/24/02 - A Northern Californian rancher and
legislator has proposed a bill that would provide $2.95 billion to
help solve the state’s water problems.
Sen. Maurice Johannessen, R-Redding, is the author of SB2070,
called The Water Supply Security and Water Supply Reliability Act
of 2002. Supported by a coalition of rural counties, the water
bond proposal is designed to provide more water for the state,
while giving local and regional agencies the controls.
“We all have to recognize that we don’t have enough
water,” Johannessen said. “We can’t use water twice. We
don’t know how much water is in the ground. So we have to come
up with a plan that will give us some new water.”
Frustrated with the state’s CalFed project, Johannessen wrote
the new bond plan to help create new water-storage options, clean
up existing bodies of water, help local agencies reduce their
dependence on other regions of the state and protect the state’s
water against terrorist acts.
If the Legislature approves the bill, the bond issue will go to
a statewide vote on November’s ballot.
“I think we have a good chance at this one,” Johannessen
said. “We have great support.”
The bulk of that support is coming from the Rural Council of
Rural Counties in Sacramento, which is an advocacy for 29 rural
counties, many of them in Northern California.
“Eighty percent of California’s water originates from those
northern counties,” said Maria Caudill, an RCRC spokesman.
“Water has been a pivotal issue for us for a very long time. We
were getting to the point where we wanted to develop a
Caudill said the bond proposal lays out two important
components for California. First, it would provide water security.
Secondly, it gives power to local and regional agencies to develop
their own water supply programs.
“This is a very lean, very focused approach at building a
solid foundation. This isn’t the cure. This isn’t a panacea.
But it is the key for laying our water foundation.”
Caudill said she hopes farm groups will sign on as supporters
of the bond issue, primarily because it creates water solutions
without a land grab component. The only land acquisition provided
in the proposed bond would take drainage or salt-impaired lands
out of production on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.
“We have received a lot of favorable nods from farm leaders.
We feel they’re an extremely important partner in this.”
The water bond proposes eight key components. $1 billion would
provide for water security against terrorist acts. $100 million
would be given in clean-water grants to local agencies, and
another $100 million would be reserved for contaminant and
$800 million would be granted to local agencies to reduce their
dependence on other regions of the state. $200 million would help
local agencies reduce dependence upon the Colorado River. $300
million would help restore and manage the state’s watersheds,
while another $325 million would target the retirement of impaired
lands in the San Joaquin Valley.
Finally, $100 million in grants would help local agencies study
new surface storage projects.
The bill, which is in the Senate, will go to the agriculture
committee in early April.