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Water bond needed to protect water, environment, economy

There is universal consensus among scientists, academics and water experts that California’s water system is at risk of catastrophic failure unless we take action now to reverse decades of neglect.

Designed 30 years ago to serve 16 million residents, our water system must now serve more than 38 million. The Delta – responsible for water deliveries to 25 million Californians and millions of acres of farmland – is on the brink of environmental and physical collapse, jeopardizing water for the majority of the state and the largest ecosystem for wildlife on the West Coast.

Drought over the last three years, inadequate infrastructure and our changing climate mean that the state will face continued water shortages even if rains return to average levels.  And the physical infrastructure – Delta levees, pipes, under and above ground storage, aqueducts and water ways – that stores and delivers our water is aging and not capable of meeting the demands of today’s population, economy or environment.

Immediate and decisive action is needed now to begin reversing decades of neglect and to prevent the sudden, systemic failure of our water system in the event of an earthquake or flood, which would cripple the Golden State.

Those are just some of the reasons why, today, a broad-based and unprecedented coalition of organizations representing environmentalists, farmers, business, labor, water agencies, taxpayers, and community groups formally launched the campaign to support The Safe, Clean & Reliable Drinking Water Supply Act of 2010. The group will build a strong campaign and work aggressively between now and November to educate the voters about the vital need to pass this measure.

The November water bond would authorize responsible investments to repair our water system, including investments to:
• Develop more reliable water supplies by improving the infrastructure that stores and delivers water.

• Clean up drinking water sources by funding emergency actions to clean up water supplies in at-risk areas, cleaning up groundwater contamination, and protecting rivers, lakes and streams that end up as drinking water.

• Protect and restore the environment by improving water quality, providing vitally needed ecosystem restoration in areas vital to our water supply and investing in conservation and watershed protections.

• Increase local water supplies through funding of local and regional projects to clean up local water sources and reduce dependence on water brought in from other regions.

• Restore the Delta. By fortifying hundreds of miles of fragile levees and restoring the Delta ecosystem and habitats, the measure will help restore the Delta and prevent a sudden, full-fledge collapse of its infrastructure and natural environment.

• Enhance conservation and recycling by funding local water agency efforts to reduce water usage, enhance water-use efficiency and implement new water recycling technologies.
Strong fiscal accountability requirements – including independent audits, limits on administrative costs, and a requirement that bonds be sold slowly, over time as our economy and state budget improve – will protect taxpayers.

Some say now is not a good time to pass a water bond. But, the fact is, waiting will make it much more expensive to fix our water system and will increase the chances of a catastrophic failure, which threatens our very quality of life, our economy and our environment.

Already, shortages of water have cost billions of dollars to our economy in lost farm production and continued shortages threaten the very fabric of our economy.  Industries like manufacturing, technology, construction, tourism and others must be able to depend on a reliable supply of water if California is to return to a period of economic growth and job-creation.

Without passage of this measure, wildlife and habitats in the Delta region and throughout California will continue to collapse. Continued deteriorating water systems will threaten our drinking water and public health.

Scientists have repeatedly warned that an earthquake or flood could destroy Delta levees and cut off water supplies for 25 million Californians for up to two years.  The Public Policy Institute of California estimated that this type of catastrophic failure would cost our economy $40 billion. To understand more clearly what such a failure would mean to California, visualize the sustained damage New Orleans suffered after Katrina and multiply several times over.

Clearly, failure to act now is not an option.

We know that presently our state’s economy is a very challenging one in which to pass a statewide general obligation bond. However, we already have an unprecedented coalition that is growing every day; California urgently needs to pass this measure; and, we believe that when informed about this urgent need by our broad coalition, voters will strongly support our measure.

The benefits of passage will be essential and far reaching for California, while the costs of inaction are unacceptable.  To learn more about the water bond and the broad coalition supporting the effort, go to www.WaterforCA.com.


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