MARTINEZ (KPIX) – The signature rally has begun to put an initiative on the 2022 ballot that would force lawmakers to fund more water storage facilities in California. But even proponents admit that the success of the measure can depend on the weather.
With many reservoirs in the state drying up and a wet winter not guaranteed, some farmers in the Central Valley and Southern California water districts are pushing for an initiative called the Water Infrastructure Funding Act of 2022. Should it be passed by the electorate, the state would have to spend two percent of the general funds on projects to expand the water supply.
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âThat would be $ 3 to 4 billion a year to fund water supply projects. And we don’t select specific projects, but rather define categories that are eligible for funding, âsaid Edward Ring, co-organizer and spokesman for theâ More Water Now âcampaign.
Efforts to qualify the statewide measure have only just begun, and many Bay Area water authorities are still unaware of it. But Orange County’s president, Steve Sheldon, said there has been a lot of political dragging around when it comes to water projects.
âIn 2014, the Californians passed Prop 1 to finance water storage. Nothing was constructed from this proposal, âhe said.
This includes the construction of the dam and the expansion of the Los Vaqueros reservoir in the Contra Costa district. It was approved for Prop-1 funds four years ago but still hasn’t received the money. Ring believes lawmakers must be forced to act and is confident that the measure will go through if voters are motivated by another dry winter.
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“Much depends on the weather,” he said, “but voters support what it is now to spend a lot of money on water infrastructure, 70-80 percent depending on the polls you look at.”
But some environmental groups are in opposition. They do not trust the provisions of the measure, which would speed up the environmental assessment process. On Monday, on the streets of Walnut Creek, Thomas Kalker sided with those who believed the state should focus on more conservation.
âSpending more money isn’t necessarily the right approach. It’s about how much we use and how we treat our existing water source, âhe said. âInstead of creating more, we need to consume less. And what we have – use it wisely. “
But Trevor Nicol couldn’t remember a time when California wasn’t in a drought situation. He said it was clear that the state needs more water.
“I think things are getting a bit of a political difficulty now when it comes to the government,” he said. âThere are things they should be doing, but they have to go through all this red tape and everything to actually do it.
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Supporters say the initiative isn’t just about water storage. Government funds could also be used for water abstraction projects such as desalination and the expansion of recycled water supply systems. The initiative’s supporters have until April to collect 997,000 signatures in order to put the measure on the November 2022 ballot.