Senator Perata's Water Bond Package Best Addresses State's Urgent Water Management and Natural Resource Needs, Water Resource Expert Testifies

October 10, 2007
Contact: 

 

 

Ann Hayden – 510-508-2557-c or ahayden@environmentaldefense.org

Laura Harnish – 510-290-5794 or lharnish@environmentaldefense.org

(Sacramento – October 8) A proposed water bond package by state Senate President pro Tem Don Perata (D-East Bay), and Senators Michael Machado (D-Linden), Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) and Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) best addresses the urgent water management and natural resource needs of the state in the most cost-effective and environmentally sound manner. That’s the conclusion of testimony provided by a leading national nonprofit conservation group that has been involved in California water policy reform for the past 35 years during a hearing this afternoon of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water chaired by Sen. Steinberg.

One bill in the bond package, SB XX1, would allocate $610 million of existing bond funding to address urgent needs such as Delta water quality, flood and earthquake protection and ecosystem restoration to improve conditions for threatened species in the Delta. The other bill in the bond package, SB XX2, would authorize a public vote on an additional $6.8 billion to support water supply and environmental restoration programs for the State of California through the Water Supply Reliability Bond Act of 2008.

“Threats such as Delta levee failure, climate change, population growth and species extinction put the future of the state’s water supply system, Delta ecosystem and economy at a critical juncture,” said Ann H. Hayden, a senior water resource analyst for Environmental Defense.

“The Legislature has an historic opportunity to apply sound economic principles to the expenditure of valuable public funds to address some of the state’s most pressing water and natural resource needs,” added Hayden. “The approach outlined in the Perata-Machado-Simitian-Steinberg bond package decreases reliance on the already over-tapped and threatened Delta ecosystem, implements critical early ecosystem restoration actions to improve conditions for endangered species such as the Delta smelt, and allows for investments in near-term priorities such as much-needed flood management and levee maintenance.”

Hayden criticized an alternative bond package by state Senators David Cogdill (R-Modesto) and Dick Ackerman (R-Tustin), SB XX3 and SB XX4.

“SB XX3 and SB XX4 allocate unprecedented amounts of public funding for specific infrastructure projects for which feasibility studies have still not been completed,” concluded Hayden. “This bond package creates a situation where it would be impossible to determine whether funds would be efficiently spent for the public good, or, to an inefficient use of public dollars. Providing additional subsidies for costly, damaging and inefficient surface storage projects, such as those proposed in SB XX3, is misguided and is inappropriate for both the environment and the taxpayers.”

Environmental Defense has more than 84,000 members in California and was a key player in the passage of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act, development of the Bay-Delta Accord and passage of Proposition 204. Prop. 204 authorized the state to borrow $995 million through the sale of general obligation bonds to restore and improve the Bay-Delta and for wastewater treatment, water supply and conservation, and local flood control and prevention.