After sharing my concerns about Proposition 1, the California Water Bond, several prominent proponents of the Bond presented their opposing viewpoints. Public debate is wonderful, and I appreciate the chance to engage in this type of conversation. I want to address two particular op-ed pieces.
The first, “Why the Water Bond Must Pass,” by Mike Dunbar correctly points out that while he and I agree on how the Bay Delta Conservation Plan will affect our area, we draw very different conclusions about how the Water Bond may impact the BDCP (The BDCP is a set of 22 conservation measures designed to restore the Delta ecosystem while at the same time constructing two massive underground tunnels that will take water from the Sacramento River and deliver it to Southern California). Mike omits an important fact about the Water Bond, and it is a crucial point in explaining why we draw different conclusions.
Fact: The Water Bond funds the BDCP.
Money from the water bond is earmarked for the conservation measures in the BDCP. In fact, the BDCP names the Water Bond as its first source of state funding. And as I’ve already argued, funding the BDCP conservation measures is a crucial step toward constructing the twin tunnels, which will require TID/MID to give up a minimum of 500,000 acre feet of surface water per year to support the Delta ecology.
When the State comes calling for more water from the Tuolumne, I truly wonder how our local politicians, newspapers, and other organization leaders who stood side-by-side with the Governor in support of the Water Bond will be able to credibly oppose the BDCP. Maybe I don’t understand Sacramento logic, but it makes no sense to me how anyone can be opposed to the BDCP while at the same time also be in favor of a bond that funds the BDCP. We simply can’t have our cake and eat it too.
According to the Modesto Bee, the Governor “promised” our local politicians that he would “advocate for reasonable, incremental flow increases on the Tuolumne, Merced and Stanislaus rivers instead of the doubling or tripling of flows sought by the State Water Resources Control Board.” Of course it isn’t in writing and it isn’t part of the Water Bond, but our local politicians believe the Governor will keep his word. I wonder how they felt about the answers he gave this week while stumping in Modesto for the Water Bond. When pressed about the connection between the Water Bond and BDCP the Governor said the bond was tunnel-neutral and that he didn’t want to “’complexify these propositions’ with ‘tangents.’” And according to the Bee, “He gave a fuzzier response when asked about senior water rights, saying, ‘It’s a matter of law.’”
If there is one thing I have unfortunately learned in politics it is that promises are made for breaking. I know our local politicians have worked hard to get this water bond created, and if it passes I truly hope that Governor Brown proves me wrong and upholds the promise he made to them.
The second op-ed piece, written by Anthony Cannella and Adam Gray, argues that the Water Bond is “essential to our quality of life in the Valley.” I would love for them to provide the specific examples of how it will help us in the TID district. There is one thing I do know: The water storage projects will not increase water for TID farmers. Though the Governor says they have not yet picked where the water storage money will be spent, the assumption is that that it will go toward the construction of Sites Reservoir off the Sacramento River and Temperance Flat Reservoir on the San Joaquin River. So we will not get more storage and will be asked to give up more water. It just doesn’t seem like a fair trade.
For a list of specific water bond provision click here.