Nearly two years before voters go to the polls to decide the fate of a long-delayed plan to borrow $11.1 billion for water projects, the clock is ticking on negotiations over the potential proceeds and the size of the borrowing.
“This bond will have many of the elements of the measure certified more than two years ago, but with a new governor and a reconfigured Legislature, it is very likely to undergo some significant changes,” said Linda Adams, who formerly headed both the California Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Water Resources.
Several bills have been introduced concerning the bond, including at least one that would downsize it significantly.
Adams said water districts, farmers, water-intensive businesses and others should intensify their efforts for funding in the November 2014 bond because as specific projects are examined.
Adams, now part of a water policy consulting firm called Clean Tech Advocates, added that “a number of water interests, ranging from water agencies and agriculture to water-dependent industries will vie for position on the elements to be funded through the new bond measure if it is approved by voters.”
Water lobbyist Patrick Leathers, Adams’ colleague, agreed.
“In a matter of just a few weeks, the Legislature will begin considering numerous bills that could shape the future of California water for years to come,” he said.
The bond is on the Nov. 4, 2014 ballot but had originally been scheduled for 2010. It was then pushed to 2012, when it was delayed again to avoid having it appear on the same ballot as Gov. Brown’s tax initiative, which voters handily approved.
The proposed bond would finance some $3 billion in storage, $2.25 billion for projects related to the fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta east of San Francisco, about $1.7 billion for environmental protections in 21 watersheds, $1.25 billion for recycling projects and $1.4 billion regional and $1 billion for groundwater protection.
The bond includes a number of local projects — perhaps $2 billion by one estimate — that were viewed as a requirement to get the complex bond out of the Legislature.