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Assembly leaders draft proposed $5-billion water bond

August 15, 2013|By Phil Willon
  • Birds swarm at sunset over Ryer Island in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, which boasts a diversity of flora and fauna that thrive in wetlands about the size of Orange County.
Birds swarm at sunset over Ryer Island in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

SACRAMENTO -- Assembly leaders on Thursday annnounced a retooled water bond proposal to address the state’s long-term water supply needs as well as protecting critical habitat, including the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

The $5-billion bond proposal is a leaner version of the $11-billion bond measure that lawmakers pulled from consideration in 2012 after it was criticized for being weighed down with pork barrel projects. A 2010 version of the bond measure also was scuttled because of concerns that, in the midst of the nation’s economic meltdown, it would fail at the ballot box.

The state Senate already has held hearings on the water bond and is expected to consider its version in the near future.

The $5-million bond measure crafted by Assembly leaders would authorize the state to pay for expanding underground and surface water storage, restoring the Sacramento Delta ecosystem and efforts to clean up existing groundwater, among other things.

Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima), chairman of the Committee on Revenue and Taxation, said that water conservation and environmental protection are critical components of the proposed bond measure.

The Assembly proposal was drafted by a special panel of eight lawmakers appointed by the speaker. Both the Assembly and Senate would have to approve the language of the water bond before it can be put before California voters. The measure may be on the November 2014 ballot.

A poll released in March by the Public Policy Institute of California found that 42% of likely voters favored the funding measure, compared with 51% of likely voters a year ago who said they would vote for it.

Among those polled, 44% said they supported the bond -- now headed for the November 2014 ballot -- and 48% were opposed. Seven percent were undecided.

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Twitter: @philwillon

phil.willon@latimes.com

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