California's $8.9 Billion Water Infrastructure and Watershed Conservation Bond Draws Controversy
CALIFORNIA - This November, voters from the Golden State will have the opportunity to vote on a nearly $9 billion investment in the state’s water conservation infrastructure. The Proposition—titled California Proposition 3, Water Infrastructure and Watershed Conservation Bond Initiative—will support a number of water projects—from groundwater storage to water treatment to restoring protected habitats. Despite this, though, the proposition has provoked controversy within conservation groups—dividing a number of the states advocates for a cleaner environment.
“It provides more than $3 billion for state agencies and local conservancies to acquire and restore watersheds and wetlands, from the Sierras to the coast, throughout the Central Valley,” David Lewis, Executive Director of Save the Bay, wrote on a forum reported on by PBS affiliate KQED. "And protecting the watersheds is one of the great ways to improve the security and safety of our water supply…Leaving infrastructure to decay because a local agency can't afford to fix it; that's not a sustainable practice.”
Environmentalists in support of the Proposition argue that California’s water infrastructure is in need of immediate action. Detractors, however, claim that the bond is both deleterious to the environment and allocates resources in such a way as to "subsidize" powerful agricultural interests.
Friends of the River Senior Policy Analyst Ron Stork has characterized the measure as a collection of “general taxpayer subsidies for wealthy farmers and agribusiness in the San Joaquin valley,” and the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board published an op-ed calling Proposition 3 a “scheme [that] was devised as an initiative that is being funded, in part, by individuals and entities that are going to be receiving a share of the bond money.”
For more on this story as it develops, keep reading AndNowUKnow.