Baykeeper recommends a No vote on Proposition 1, the Water Bond on the statewide November ballot. Officially titled the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014, Prop 1 is a $7.545 billion general obligation bond measure.
Many environmental leaders and legislators put tremendous effort into crafting the Water Bond, and we acknowledge their determination to create a viable solution to the state’s water issues. Unfortunately, some of the measures included in Prop 1 do not fulfill this goal and instead are environmentally harmful. Passage of Prop 1 could compromise the promise of sustainable water supply for our state, forcing environmentalists to fight to protect our natural resources for decades to come.
Here are reasons Baykeeper is recommending a no vote on the Water Bond:
- Despite what some have claimed, the bond is not neutral on the 35-mile tunnels, a project proposed to carry fresh water from the northern end of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to pumps on the southern end. While the Water Bond does not directly fund the tunnels, it provides billions of dollars for new dams and other water storage projects that would enable the tunnel project to go forward. It also creates a complicated water-purchasing scheme that could make more water available for export from the Delta, thus facilitating the use of the tunnels. Taxpayers have consistently opposed the tunnel idea, among other reasons because it would dramatically reduce freshwater flows into the Bay, devastate the Delta ecosystem, and wipe out California’s salmon fishery.
- The Water Bond inadequately funds recycling efforts, conservation measures, and groundwater cleanup—despite the state’s current extreme drought conditions—and instead funds the largest appropriation for dams in the state’s history ($2.7 billion, or 36% of the Water Bond). The Bond’s anticipated influx of taxpayer dollars is already being promoted to resurrect a number of environmentally detrimental, low-yield, and financially irresponsible dam projects.
- The Water Bond requires taxpayers to purchase publicly-owned water at inflated prices in order to subsidize agricultural water users, to the detriment of rivers and streams, including those that flow to San Francisco Bay. This provision violates the long-held principle of the Public Trust, that the state’s waters belong to the public, and the principle that those who benefit from water projects should pay for them.
- The bond allocates only 7% of its funds to reducing and preventing pollution through safe drinking water and clean water programs to disadvantaged communities. Funding for these programs is long overdue, but in reality there is nothing in the Water Bond that would increase staffing of our natural resources agencies to implement, monitor, enforce, and protect our communities through these programs. Instead, the bond provides extravagant subsidies to special interests.
- The Water Bond reduces public oversight and government transparency. It suspends requirements that new rules to implement projects be reviewed, which could allow project proponents to avoid having to be consistent with state law, especially environmental laws.
- The bond is fiscally irresponsible, as it will require annual debt service payments of $360 million from the state General Fund for the next 40 years.
California desperately needs funding for environmentally beneficial water improvement projects, but the Water Bond does not provide the right solutions. Baykeeper recommends a No vote on Prop 1 this November.
Based in part on Proposition 1 guidance documents created by the California Sport Fishing Protection Alliance and Russian Riverkeeper.