Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway, R-Tulare, and Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee Vice Chair Frank Bigelow, R-O’Neals, have introduced a comprehensive water bond proposal. Their plan would provide competitive funding for critical water storage, groundwater, Delta restoration, water quality and drought relief projects statewide.
“California’s painful drought conditions are hurting families, farmers and business owners,” said Conway. “Real people are suffering through higher water rates, mandatory rationing orders and reduced water deliveries in part because the legislature has failed to act for too long. Our proposal represents a realistic and fiscally responsible approach that will provide funding for water storage, Delta restoration, drought relief and other local water needs – and at a reduced cost to taxpayers.”
“The people that I represent in my district are bearing the economic brunt of the drought, and are demanding action from Sacramento to get us off this rollercoaster of water uncertainty,” said Bigelow, whose district extends from Madera to South Lake Tahoe. “Solving our short- and long-term water problems are key to protecting California’s economic well-being. By enacting our plan, we can more effectively plan for our state’s water future and better prepare us for future droughts.”
The Conway-Bigelow proposal in Assembly Bill 2043 would authorize the sale of $7.935 billion in general obligation bonds, with proceeds going to fund the following:
- $3 billion for water storage, including potential surface storage projects such as the Sites and Temperance Flat projects should they be approved
- $800 million for groundwater protection and water quality
- $1.5 billion for Delta sustainability
- $1.19 billion for regional water supply reliability
- $395 million for drought relief, wastewater treatment, and safe drinking water
- $1.05 billion for water recycling projects and advanced water treatment technology.
Conway and Bigelow noted that while the current water bond scheduled for a statewide vote in the November 2014 election was carefully negotiated, there were concerns about the plan. They said that their proposal was an effort to address these concerns and still provide funding for vital water infrastructure projects statewide. Additionally, there are no earmarks in the Conway-Bigelow proposal. This bond provides funding to be awarded on a competitive basis to eligible projects across the state.
The Conway-Bigelow proposal is co-authored by: Assembly Members Katcho Achadjian, R-San Luis Obispo; Brian Dahle, R-Bieber; Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills; Brian Jones, R-Santee; Eric Linder, R-Corona; Mike Morrell, R-Rancho Cucamonga; Jim Patterson, R-Fresno; Donald P. Wagner, R-Irvine; and Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita.
Joel Nelsen, president of the Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual, contacted Conway and Bigelow to pledge his organization’s support of the proposal.
“Connie could have just sat and waited for ideas to move through the legislature before engaging in the discussion, but instead she is spearheading the discussion and laying ideas out on the table in order to develop a comprehensive and bi-partisan approach to solving the state’s water issues,” said Nelsen.
“Reasonable people can disagree, which is to be expected when it comes to the state water plan,” he continued. “But rather than condemning other ideas, in true leadership fashion, Conway has laid out a plan for discussion in order to foster compromise and create a viable solution.”