Enviro coalition offers its own water plan

An aerial view of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

A day after Gov. Brown proposed a $6 billion water bond for the November ballot, an environmental coalition offered their own plan with a similar price-tag and with $1.5 billion for recycling and conservation, and $800 million to treat waste water and develop drinking water projects.

The group includes Friends of the River, the Planning and Conservation League, the Sierra Club and the League of Women Voters of California. The coalition said its proposal stiffens legislative oversight over the bond spending and cuts out special interest projects that it said was contained in the $11.14 billion bond scheduled to go before voters in November.

With three weeks left in the 2013-14 legislative session, lawmakers and water interests are seeking to reach a compromise on a water bond. The bond now facing voters, Proposition 43, was approved five years ago for the statewide ballot but delayed twice because of concerns that such a large bond would be approved by voters. Brown, in the alternative bond he offered this week, said the debt service on the $11.14 billion bond would reach $750 million annually over the next 30 years.

The environmental coalition said its plan “ensures that residents in all parts of the state would benefit proportionally from the bond. It addresses water quality and water availability in both urban and agricultural communities.”

According to statement released by the coalition, their $6 billion plan would contain $1 billion clean drinking water, $1.5 billion for conservation and recycling, $1.1 billion for watershed protection and restoration and about $2.4 billion for groundwater cleanup and storage. The measure is neutral on the Brown administration’s plan to build a pair of 35-mile-long tunnels through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to move northern water south.

Replacing the current bond on the ballot requires a two-thirds vote of the Legislature and the governor’s signature. Lawmakers adjourn on Aug. 31.

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