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Legislators Talk Next Steps on Water Policy

Linda Strean January 13, 2015
photo - Water Policy Event

Four key legislators yesterday discussed their water policy priorities for the current session, agreeing that their top one is overseeing the implementation of Proposition 1, the state water bond passed in November. At a Sacramento gathering sponsored by PPIC and focused on managing drought, the four also agreed that the bond is just a down payment in addressing a long list of water policy challenges.

Assemblymember Anthony Rendon, who represents parts of southeastern Los Angeles County, noted that the water bond’s lack of earmarks, or “pork,” helped secure the voters’ approval—and will require strong legislative oversight to make sure the money is well spent.

Echoing the theme of legislative oversight, Assemblymember Marc Levine, who represents parts of Marin and Sonoma Counties, said it is important to review past investments—such as Proposition 1E, passed in 2006 to fund flood control projects—to make sure that money is spent strategically and builds voters’ trust in government.

Asked about other policy priorities, Senator Lois Wolk, who represents much of the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, mentioned water infrastructure. It is wearing out, expensive to replace, and the federal government is no longer financing it. That makes funding a challenge for the state.

How can the state build drought resilience? Senator Jean Fuller, who represents parts of Kern, Tulare, and San Bernardino Counties, said ensuring a predictable water supply is critical.

“People do not know—especially the farmer—when they’re going to get their water, if they’re going to get it in August, if they’re going to get it in July, how much it’s going to cost at that point.”

By building more certainty in the system, water markets can be managed for the benefit of all, she said.

Hundreds of people attended the PPIC event Managing Drought, and hundreds more watched the online webcast. PPIC will post videos of the full event soon.

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