MARTINEZ (KPIX) – The collection of signatures has begun to place an initiative on the 2022 poll that would force the legislature to fund more water storage in California. But even supporters admit, the success of the measure may depend on the weather.
As many of the state’s reservoirs dry up and there is no guarantee of a wet winter, some farmers in the Central Valley and Southern California River Basin Districts are pushing an initiative called “Water Infrastructure.” Funding Act of 2022 ”. If passed by voters, it would force the state to spend two percent of the general fund on projects that would expand water supplies.
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“It would be $ 3-4 billion a year to fund water supply projects. And we don’t choose specific projects, but we define categories eligible for funding, ”said Edward Ring, co-organizer and spokesperson for the campaign known as More Water Now.
The effort to qualify the statewide measure has just started, and many Bay Area water agencies aren’t even aware of it yet. But Steve Sheldon, president of the Orange County Water District said when it comes to water projects, there has been a lot of political drag going on.
“In 2014, Californians passed Prop 1, which was supposed to fund water storage. Nothing was built from this proposal, ”he said.
This includes the raising of the dam and the expansion of the Los Vaqueros reservoir in Contra Costa County. He was approved for Prop 1 funds four years ago, but still hasn’t gotten the money. Ring believes the legislature should be forced to act and said he was confident the measure would pass if voters were motivated by another dry winter.
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“Much depends on the weather,” he said, “but voters, as is currently the case, are very supportive of spending money on water infrastructure, to the tune of 70 to 80 %, depending on the polls you view “.
But some environmental groups are lining up in the opposition. They do not trust the provisions of the measure that would speed up the environmental review process. On Monday in the streets of Walnut Creek, Thomas Kalker sided with those who think the state should focus on more conservation.
“Spending more money is not necessarily the right approach. It’s about how much we use, how we treat our existing water source, ”he said. “Instead of creating more, we need to use less. And what we have, use it wisely.
But Trevor Nicol couldn’t remember a time when California wasn’t in a drought. He said it is clear the state needs more water.
“I think it all becomes a bit of a political difficulty when it comes to government now,” he said. “There are things they should be doing, but they have to go through all this bureaucracy and everything to actually do it.
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Supporters say the initiative isn’t just about water storage. Public funds could also be used for water creation projects, such as desalination and the expansion of recycled water distribution systems. Supporters of the initiative have until April to collect 997,000 signatures to put the measure to the ballot in November 2022.