California’s voters will have a historic opportunity this November to make an important commitment to everyone’s future food, job and economic security by voting yes on the bond initiative now known as Proposition 1 – the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 (the water bond). This will be a critical measure to create broad bipartisan support amongst California’s voters this November. Tulare County Farm Bureau’s board of directors at its September 11 meeting voted to officially support the bond.
The bond with its $7.5 billion price tag provides long overdue funding to build critical infrastructure, storage and conveyance projects for increased water storage and movement of water around the state. The state’s rural communities and urban areas all desperately need more water and more access to storage to manage the arid climactic conditions in California that often lead to extended periods of drought and scarce rainfall.
The bond provides a comprehensive state water plan that includes funds for safe drinking water for all communities, expands water storage with $2.7 billion of continuously appropriated funding, and ensures that water conservation, recycling and reuse programs are expanded substantially in the years ahead.
Tulare County Farm Bureau has some concern that the Central Valley’s critical needs may not be fully addressed in the bond, but it is encouraged by the competitive bidding process that will allow key storage projects like Sites Reservoir and Temperance Flat to be ranked high priority in the review process. East to west connectivity issues still need to be resolved in the nuances of the funding plans, but it is important to acknowledge that with a legislature as divided as the one in California – this bond is a meaningful and real step towards addressing the antiquated water infrastructure throughout California.
The bond provides safeguards to our existing water supplies and creates many benefits to the environment while also protecting communities big and small, agricultural lands, and the people of California. In this third year of harsh drought conditions, we must set aside our regional differences and political ideologies and get down to the common sense reality that California has not made meaningful investments in water storage and infrastructure for decades and now is the time to do so with the passage of Proposition 1.
TCFB President Joey Airoso added, “We cannot feed the world and our own nation without water to grow crops, raise livestock, and produce more than 250 different food and fiber products for our world’s consumers. Tulare County just experienced the thrill of being ranked the #1 agricultural producing county in the 2013 crop reports; but it is a short lived victory that we cannot share with our neighbors who have watched their acreage and yields decimated by drought related water shortages. We have to all fight for California’s water needs, and know that passing this bond has benefits for our urban and rural communities alike.”
Tulare County is the largest dairy producing county in the nation and ranks first in California for gross farm receipts as of the 2013 Crop Report. The Tulare County Farm Bureau represents more than 2,200 family farmers in the county and is dedicated to promoting and enhancing the viability of Tulare County agriculture.