Cast Your Vote: What You Need to Know about California Proposition 1

California Proposition 1, or the Water Bond, is a legislatively-referred bond act and replaces a previous measure known as Proposition 43. Upon voter approval, the measure would enact the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 and will allow California to issue bonds to pay for water infrastructure projects. Coming up in the 4th of November 2014 elections, Prop 1 would allow California to issue $7.12 billion in general obligation bonds.

The money raised from the bonds would be used for a litany of water-related infrastructure projects if the majority votes “YES”. Also, it would require that money from the general fund be used to pay off the bonds. Certain water projects will be required to find 3rd party non-state sources to match the money they would receive from Proposition 1.

California Proposition: Yes or No?

I personally believe we should vote “YES” on Prop 1 because water is precious and we desperately need it. But whether you vote for or against it, one of the most important things is to start using water more responsibly. The way we use water is very important and I believe that we need to eliminate the use of the water that has been treated to drinking water, for doing nothing more than watering grass, plants and shrubs. Irrigation water needs to be used more wisely to and another important step would be to produce more water with the help of sea water desalination systems on the coast and capture more water with building reservoirs and dams.

Other PRO arguments include:

  • Proposition 1 will help California prepare for droughts by enhancing local water supplies and increasing our ability to store water so it is available when we need it
  • Proposition 1 will ensure reliable water for farms
  • Proposition 1 will clean up contamination of drinking water by removing pollutants from streams and rivers
  • Proposition 1 will protect against the collapse of our water system in an earthquake
  • Proposition 1 will repair the Delta, one of the most important ecosystems on the West Coast
  • Proposition 1 will fix vital infrastructure and create jobs
  • Proposition 1 will NOT increase taxes, as it is funded through existing funds
  • Proposition 1 will protect tax payers with strong fiscal safeguards

However, there is a campaign against the measure led by Vote NO on Proposition 1. The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance issued a “statement of opposition” to Prop 1 and provided 14 reasons to vote against the proposition. The following are just a few of those reasons:

  • Proposition 1 undermines the public trust doctrine
  • Proposition 1 undermines the principle of beneficiary pays
  • Proposition 1 crowds out other critical investments
  • Proposition 1 ushers in a new era of big dams
  • Proposition 1 undermines the principle that projects should mitigate adverse impacts
  • Proposition 1 is fiscally irresponsible
  • Proposition 1 sabotages efforts to meaningfully resolve California’s continuing water crisis

California’s Water and Prop 1’s Objectives

Most of the state’s water supply comes from northern Californian rivers, snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains and groundwater. The main objective is to provide water throughout the state, while supporting and maintaining the environment. To do so, we often use:

  • pipelines
  • watersheds
  • irrigation systems
  • pumping stations
  • dams and canals
  • waste management plants

The state of California’s primary water-related responsibilities are to conserve, store and transport water around the state, protect water quality, fish and wildlife habitats and to provide flood control. The objectives of Proposition 1 would be to increase water supplies and flood protection, improve water quality, and protect and restore watersheds. Specific spending proposals in the Proposition are shown in the figure below.

The fiscal impact of Prop 1 would be an added $7.1 billion of debt to California, which will be in the form of general obligation bonds that the state would issue. It would take around $360 million each year for about 40 years to pay off!

I think the time has come that, either through legislation or through some changes in infrastructure, we get rid of lawn watering and watering of shrubs with water that has been treated to the point that it is good for drinking water. It just seems to be a very expensive thing to do; we should give people tax credits or whatever to get rid of the lawns for something that does not require watering. We all are part of this and we have to use water a lot more judiciously. Vote “Yes” but keep your eye on how the money is being spent.

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