Should the state allocate billions to water projects every year? Voters could decide in 2022 – GV Wire
A proposed voting measure aims to increase spending on California’s storage and supply of clean, safe drinking water.
The Water Infrastructure Funding Bill of 2022 would allocate 2% of the general state fund each year to investment in California’s sustainable water supply without increasing state taxes.
California voters could see the proposed measure on the ballot as early as the November 2022 election.
California General Fund for 2021-2022 totals $ 196 billion. So, if the law were in place, it would set aside around $ 4 billion a year for sustainable water supply efforts. And that funding could be used to attract federal government dollars or be combined with unearmarked state water proposal funds.
Biparty initiative would not raise taxes
Water in California is one of the few issues that periodically brings together members of different parties. And this is the case with this proposal.
MP Devon Mathis (R-Visalia) is leading efforts to push through the state’s constitutional amendment. Earlier this summer, he wrote a letter that received support from 27 lawmakers, Democrats and Republicans.
“We, the undersigned members of the California State Legislature, pledge our support for the Water Infrastructure Funding Act of 2022, a citizens’ constitutional amendment,” the letter reads.
In a statement early last year, Mathis said it was sad to see a state like California, with one of the world’s largest economies, experience worse water conditions than war zones. where it was deployed.
“For me, water is the most basic human need and it makes me sick that California is willing to tax already struggling working families for ‘clean’ drinking water,” Mathis said. “My bipartisan plan, ACA 3, will provide more money than any tax could ever generate and ensure clean, safe and affordable drinking water for the next generation of Californians.”
How would the law help water infrastructure projects?
Funds held in a water trust fund account could be used for projects. The goal: to create at least 5 million additional acre-feet of annual water supply capacity for farms and cities each year.
This move is intended to advance other approved state proposals that have yet to take off. For example, Proposition 1 approved by state voters in 2014 would help unlock hundreds of millions of dollars to fund environmental projects, but which cannot be released until water storage projects are released. fully funded and under construction.
This would be essential for repairs to large water supply projects involving the California Aqueduct, the Friant-Kern Canal, and the Delta-Mendota Canal. In theory, approval of the law could jeopardize the construction of a massive reservoir at Temperance Flat above the Friant Dam.
The measure would cover desalination, underground water storage, water recycling for drinking use standards and ensure the supply of clean and safe drinking water for all households and businesses.
In addition, it would protect irrigation water for farmers while protecting the environment through sustainable maintenance that would keep the state’s aquifers healthy and clean.
Finally, the law would provide funding to defend against lawsuits that often delay or shut down water projects.
California’s failure to invest in water infrastructure projects
State Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment says nearly one million Californians lack access to safe drinking water and climate change is exacerbating the availability of affordable, good-quality water, especially for communities disadvantaged.
To 2021 report published by the state Water Resources Control Board, discovered that 620 public water systems and 80,000 domestic wells may not provide affordable, uncontaminated water. To solve this problem, the state would need $ 4.7 billion in new financing.
Passed in 2012, Assembly Bill 685 declares that everyone in the state has the right to clean, safe and affordable drinking water and in 2019, Governor Newsom signed the SB 200 which provides funding aimed at guarantee safe drinking water in every California. community.
Biden’s infrastructure bill could provide additional funding
California is not the only state whose failing infrastructure is in serious need of investment. The country’s water supply systems are aging and in need of repair.
To 2021 report card by the American Society of Civil Engineers ranked American infrastructure with a C grade. In the report, it said federal government investment in water resources has declined dramatically from 63% of all spending in capital in 1977 to only 9% in 2017.
To make matters worse, as investments have gone down, maintenance costs keep rising and recently hit their highest level in 2017.
Lack of funding for the nation’s water resources projects has added to the failure of America’s water system projects.
Data covering 34 years from a 2018 study found that up to 10% of community water supply systems serving up to 45 million people in the United States often violate health regulations.
The combined $ 4.5 trillion infrastructure proposed by Biden aims to address some of these problems by setting aside $ 111 billion for the country’s water infrastructure and providing $ 56 billion in grants and flexible loans to low cost to states, tribes and territories that would help the most disadvantaged communities.