$7.5 Billion water bond heads to state ballot

A water bond years in the making hit Governor Jerry Brown's desk just before the Thursday deadline.
A water bond years in the making hit Governor Jerry Brown's desk just before the Thursday deadline. After years of intense debate voters will decide whether to spend $7.5 Billion to improve the state's water system.

Governor Brown signed the legislation late Wednesday, in time for Proposition 1 to make it on the November ballot.
Prop 1 sets aside billions for clean water projects and at least two all-new dams, including one at Temperance Flat in Fresno County.

Supporters say this is a huge victory that will provide a better water supply to our terribly drought stricken area.

The bond labels $2.7 billion for water storage projects, which would turn Temperance Flat, north of Millerton Lake, into a new reservoir.

"This is a project that they will see tractors and dirt moving in three years," said Manuel Cunha with the Nisei Farmers League is one of the loudest voices in the valley in support of new water storage for long-tern sustainability.

"It will help agriculture on the east side, the west side," he said. "It will help communities."

Cunha credits his agricultural colleagues, the community and elected officials on both sides for pushing the bond that could drastically change valley ag production. "I think it's important for people to hear that they all stood together," Cunha said.

They stood together to get the storage funding up to $2.7 billion from just $2 billion a few days ago. It's not quite the $3 billion republicans were hoping for initially.

Democratic Assemblyman Henry T. Perea praises the bond, touting its funds for additional water projects. "And we got over $700 million for recycled water, which the city of Fresno can take advantage of," he said. "It's a big victory for the valley."

Republican Assemblyman Jim Patterson says the bond is a step in the right direction, but he says lawmakers missed an opportunity to make history by not creating a 50 year plan. "Until that day I'm going to be an ardent watch dog to make sure that promises made to central California are promises kept," Patterson said.

Even with this rare bipartisan effort there are still many upset over the water bond. "All of those projects are extremely expensive," said Kathryn Phillips, director of the Sierra Club. "They would not create new water. They would benefit only a few special interests. They won't solve the state's drought problems. And they are bad for the environment."

Growers say they hope to see Temperance Flat Dam up and running within seven years. Only time will tell.



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