Statement by Assemblymember Nora Evans:
Evans Comments on Passage of State Water Bond
SACRAMENTO -- The State Legislature passed an $11 billion water bond, along with a package of policy bills addressing water conservation and groundwater monitoring. The following is a statement from Assemblymember Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa), Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, about the bond.
"This water bond is an historic achievement for all the wrong reasons. It was crafted behind closed doors, never received a public vetting, and was passed on the fly in the middle of the night by legislators who lacked an adequate analysis of it. It brings our debt burden to historic new levels. And, for the first time, it requires the public across the state to finance half the cost of new dams and reservoirs benefiting private interests.
By passing this bond, the Legislature is flirting with financial disaster. Already, the state is unable to pay for services demanded by Californians. We've just gone through three horrific state budgets to close a $60 billion gap. And, more troubles lay ahead. We face an $8 billion gap next year and a $15 billion gap after that.
When discussing recent state budgets, the governor and others said the state could not afford to fully maintain its universities, community colleges, HIV/AIDS services, poison control centers, domestic violence shelters, state parks, health care for children, and in-home care for seniors and the disabled. Paying back this water bond will come at the expense of these services that Californians expect.
It's the same tired story all over again. The Central Valley and Southern California plan to take water from the North by building a peripheral canal. The rub is that they want Northern California to pay for it too. All Northern Californians get from this bond is the privilege of paying the bill."
Response from Carolee Kreiger, President California Water Impact Network (C-WIN):
"I completely agree with Assembly member Evans, this water bill package will be financially devastating for the California taxpayers; and that it is only going to benefit private interests...corporate agriculture on the Westside of the San Joaquin River and developers in southern California like Newhall Ranch and the Tejon Ranch.
But this package goes even further; it is attempting to turn 150 years of water rights law on its head...giving the most junior water rights holders (the State Water Project contractors and the Central Valley Project contractors) the ability to take water away from senior water rights holders (the Delta farmers and the Sacramento Valley farmers and the area of origin stake holders.) This will assure a generation of lawyers a lucrative future.
Moreover, this package will put another layer of bureaucracy into a system that doesn't fund or allow the existing bureaucracy, the State Water Resources Control Board, to do its job. Will they allow the new bureaucracy to function if it doesn't give them what they want? I don't think so.
And the salmon will continue to go down-hill toward extinction; the fisherman and the lucrative sportfishing industry will continue to crumble. And all this for a sector of California agriculture that is less than 1% of California's economy. This does not make sense.
And perhaps most chilling; it will not produce any more water. The $11 billion is the down payment on a $80 billion bill that will not produce any more water; just take water away from farmers with senior water rights but not enough power to protect them and give that water to junior water rights holders who have bought off the legislature. And it will decimate the Delta and the environment."