Shasta Lake in July of this year. (Photo Credit: Lyle Rains/Flickr)
With the drought literally moving mountains, drying up wells and reserves, and causing a Mt. Shasta mudslide–not a drink at TGI Fridays, it’s not surprising Californians appear to support the state’s water bond proposition by almost a 2-1 margin, says a new poll.
Fifty-eight percent of likely voters said they support Proposition 1 on the November ballot, reports the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) in a poll released last night. While the $7.5-billion water bond isn’t designed to specifically address the current drought, it is a sizable outlay on California’s long-term water needs, like storage, water quality and stormwater projects.
Find out what’s actually in the bond and what’s not: “Water bond deal is done. But will it actually improve California’s water system?“
In the PPIC survey, water and the drought earned second place on the list of Californians’ top concerns facing the state, below only jobs and the economy. Those surveyed in the same poll last year around this time had water, drought and water supply down near the bottom of the list, below “Don’t Know.”
“More and more Californians perceive the drought as the top state issue and their region’s water supply as a big problem,” Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO.
Seventy-two percent, to be exact, of likely voters called water supply in their region a big problem. And to add one more important number, 67 percent of likely voters said they’d vote yes on a hypothetical local bond that pays for water supply infrastructure in their water district.
It would have been interesting to ask voters if they also would support a hike in their water rates to pay for local infrastructure. That might have to happen for the state’s long-term water infrastructure needs to be met. That’s what Mark Cowin, the director of the California Department of Water Resources, told us at the Summit’s Capitol Day. Cowin put the price tag of $200 billion on California’s water infrastructure needs over the next 10 years.
To add to the urgency, the Proposition 1 funding has a tight timeline with all reviews, studies and contracts needing to be completed by January 1, 2022, if voters approve the ballot measure.
Those are a couple of great reasons why the California Economic Summit’s Infrastructure Action Team is tasked with exploring new, innovative and performance-based ways to pay for projects, not just passing every few years a bond that will take quite a long time to pay down. At the same time, those long-term needs are why California Forward’s Leadership Council endorsed a broad coalition’s “water fix” framework that calls for not just more water investment but smarter investment and governance of the issue.
“CA Fwd is dedicated to helping the state’s complex governance system deliver better results, with more transparency, enabling greater accountability to voters,” wrote CA Fwd’s Leadership Council’s co-chairs, Tom McKernan and Lenny Mendonca. “California’s management of water resources is an iconic example of how public money must be better spent to meet critical public needs.”