Know Your H2O! 2014 San Gabriel Valley Water Forum Highlights Water Bond and Drought Solutions By Thomas A. Love President, Board of Directors San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District (link)
The 2014 San Gabriel Valley Water Forum, held October 2 at Fairplex Conference Center in Pomona, was an educational and informational success as nearly 300 people from Sierra Madre and neighboring cities attended the third annual event. Teachers, students, elected officials, business leaders, city employees, water industry professionals, community leaders and environmental leaders all agreed this year’s Forum, entitled “Are We Ready for the Impacts of the Severe Drought,” was the best Forum yet.
Attendees learned from expert speakers on the subjects of the drought and long-term climate change, and impacts from the drought ranging from water shortages, to flooding, to fires, to earthquakes, to cost of living increases, to job losses.
The keynote presentation featured Secretary John Laird, California Natural Resources Agency, and Assemblymember Anthony Rendon, author of the 2014 Water Bond, discussing the Water Bond and landmark groundwater management legislation. The Water Bond discussion was extremely timely as a $7.5 billion Water Bond will be on the ballot this Election Day, November 4.
The Board of Directors for the San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District, which assists the City of Sierra Madre with its water supply, water conservation and special funding, has passed a resolution supporting the Water Bond and encourages all residents to learn more about the Water Bond and water issues so they can vote intelligently this November 4. If approved by voters, the Water Bond, which is Proposition 1 on the ballot, will provide funding for water improvement projects throughout California and San Gabriel Valley dealing with water storage/reservoirs, water conservation, groundwater quality and sustainability, watershed protection, and flood and storm water management.
(Mod: The final chapter of this taxpayer funded campaign event comes Tuesday evening as certain of our City Councilmembers, some of whom apparently participated in this political stunt, will jump for joy, declare it all a true revelation and that everyone should vote Yes! On Prop 1. Since City Hall is now functioning as a campaign headquarters for Prop 1, and doesn't really care to share any contrary opinions on this topic, I thought I should offer you some information from a differing perspective. Because if you think another $14.4 billion dollars - with interest - should be added to Sacramento's already massive debt load, and done to reward huge corporate agribusinesses and other especially generous donors to certain politically privileged persuasions, then you are desperately in need of an update. This from the Modesto Bee - link.)
Proposition 1 adds a big debt for little new water - Tim Quinn, director of the Association of California Water Agencies, recently said, “We’ve got to get the public out of this mindset that ‘If I spend the money, I get lots more water.’ ”
That’s why we oppose Proposition 1, the California water bond. It is poor public policy to burden taxpayers with $14.4 billion (including interest) for a water bond that nets very little new water. Prop. 1 adds to our $770 billion in taxpayer indebtedness and will crowd out funding for public schools, roads, health and safety.
Prop. 1 does next to nothing to address near-term drought relief. It dedicates just 13 percent of its funding to conservation, stormwater capture and treatment, and recycling for the entire state. Prop. 1 marks $2.7 billion for “continuous funding,” meaning the funds flow without legislative oversight for three dams that will increase the state’s water supply by 1 percent – in 10 to 15 years, when the projects would be completed.
If Prop. 1 passes, the state will spend $360 million a year for the next 40 years to build projects that will not solve our water problems, but will benefit wealthy agriculture corporations who want more access to water. California taxpayers should not go into debt to build projects for billion-dollar farming conglomerates.
According to a June 3, 2014, report in The Sacramento Bee, Temperance Flat, Sites Reservoir and an elevated Shasta Dam will only net 316,000 acre-feet of new water in an average year for a total cost of $7.5 billion. The feasibility study for Temperance Flat allocated 73 percent of the costs to taxpayers, saying the dam will benefit salmon. The idea that we build dams for fish is ludicrous. The real beneficiaries would be private agribusiness interests who will receive water from Temperance Flat.
Funding for Temperance Flat and the other two dam projects is a bad public investment. The water takers don’t want to pay for these dams because they know the benefits are minimal. They are happy to foist the cost onto taxpayers.
Prop. 1 also contains $1.5 billion for “conservancies,” much of it pork spending that produces no new water and is unrelated to water: bike trails, hiking trails and agency administrative costs. Hundreds of millions in pork was included to win specific legislators’ votes. And there’s no language specifying how it is to be spent.
Prop. 1 forces taxpayers to buy water the public already owns to protect fish. That water will be used to increase supplies for export to huge agribusinesses. Whether or not Fresno area residents believe that more water should be sent through the Delta to their region, the idea that specific industrial farming operations would be shifting to taxpayers nearly $1 billion in general obligation debt to fix the damage they cause does not square with the notion of fiscal prudence.
Prop. 1 shortchanges sensible measures like water recycling and groundwater cleanup that would have provided new water. These projects were slashed by 36 percent in the final bond.
Prop. 1 misspends the money needed for investments in water infrastructure throughout California. It is fiscally irresponsible to build new dams and fund bike trails while leaving local water pipes to leak up to 10 percent of the water we currently have. It makes more sense to stop leaking water before spending to build new dams and bike trails. Prop. 1 sabotages, delays and diverts funding from meaningful efforts to address California’s continuing water crisis.
Bottom line: Proposition 1 panders to special interests at the expense of the public. It provides no drought relief, it eliminates public oversight, and it steals funds from essential public programs – including education and road maintenance. It is pure pork. California taxpayers must not be forced to assume additional debt and sacrifice their access to public water, their fisheries and recreational waterways simply to build infrastructure for politically connected farming conglomerates.
(Mod: You have to wonder why this information isn't on the city website as well. Well, OK, you don't really. The answer is actually quite obvious. City Hall is working for the Yes! On Prop 1 campaign. But again, is this kind of partisan political advocacy actually legal in a taxpayer supported forum? … Oh, and here's another intriguing fact. Who was the 2013-2014 Chair of the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership? None other than the Godfather of Sierra Madre water bond debt, Bart Doyle! - link. Small world, isn't it?)