Perea: California Water Bond Needs Fixing Before It Goes To Voters in 2014
The state's twice-delayed water bond needs more tweaking - and a diet - before it goes to voters in November 2014. That was the message delivered by Assembly member Henry T. Perea on Tuesday, as he spoke on Valley Public Radio's Valley Edition.
"If the Legislature does nothing on re-negotiating the water bond, there will be a bond for the voters to vote on, this coming election in November . Now all the public polls point to the fact that this bond doesn't pass. So that's why we're trying to renegotiate what that looks like," says Perea.
As currently drafted, the bond would fund a wide range of water projects including $3 billion for water system "operational" improvements, $2 billion for delta projects, and $1 billion for groundwater cleanup.
Perea says the current proposal - at around $11 billion is too pricey for California voters, and includes too many projects that aren't directly related to what he views as the core mission of the bond. He says any successful effort needs to address the environment, water storage and conveyance, and drinking water cleanup.
"We're trying to get under $10 billion, and try to cut some of the projects that aren't as closely related to water, and really just stay focused on what a water bond should be. And in my mind, it should really address three things. It should address the sustainability of the delta, provide infrastructure projects so that we can store and move water along, and we need to invest more in clean drinking water projects not just for the valley but up and down the entire state, to deal with issues like high levels of nitrates, arsenic and other contaminants that are poisoning our waters," says Perea.
However, Perea admits that achieving those goals, while at the same time reducing the cost of proposal, will be a challenge.
"Now can we do all that with $6 billion, $8 billion, $9 billion? It's going to be very difficult."
The water bond was first proposed by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009, and was supposed to go before voters in November 2010. The governor pulled the measure from the 2010 ballot after the state's economy continued to worsen, delaying it until November 2012. That scheduled vote was also delayed until November 2014.
Perea, who sits on Speaker John Perez's working group for re-working the water bond says discussions with interest groups are on-going.
"We are meeting with stakeholders and trying to find those sweet-spots with the various stakeholders to try to find a bond that would be less, that would hopefully earn voter support in November ," says Perea.