Just two years ago California voters approved a water bond that set aside billions to pay for new water storage. Now a new group backed by many of the valley’s most influential farmers says that’s not enough to build new dams and expand existing ones.
They want to use ask voters to approve a plan to take the $10 billion in bond funds that voters approved in 2008 for high speed rail and direct them to water storage projects. They would include the proposed Sites Reservoir in Colusa County, Temperance Flat Reservoir near Fresno, as well as raising the height of Shasta Dam and the San Luis Reservoir. The measure would also establish a new panel that would oversee how the money is spent, and would change the definition of a "beneficial use" of water to put use by people and agriculture ahead of environmental uses.
As you might expect the plan is a controversial one, with some Bay Area groups calling it a “water grab” by the San Joaquin Valley, and some local farmers saying it would slow down projects already in the works. Supporters disagree and say the measure is the best way to speed up construction of new water storage facilities. Aubrey Bettencourt, the executive director of the California Water Alliance joined us on Valley Edition to talk about the plan, which needs nearly 600,000 signatures to make it on the November ballot.