We are currently in the midst of one of the driest winters on record. Hardly any measurable rain fell in December or January, and despite this week's drizzle there is no relief in sight.
Meanwhile, real people are suffering under mandatory water rationing orders. There is not enough water for farmers to grow crops. Restaurants, hotels and equipment rental companies that rely upon water for tourism like water sports have seen their business drop sharply. Californians are demanding immediate action from Sacramento to address the crisis and solve our water challenges once and for all.
The primary reason this year's drought is so bad is a lack of forward thinking from Sacramento.
California's current water infrastructure is outdated and overwhelmed. It was built more than a half century ago to meet the needs of a 1960's population of 10 million people instead of the 38 million who now reside in California. This is woefully inadequate to meet the needs of our growing state. Had we acted to build additional storage, both above and below ground, people would be feeling less pain today.
That's why I have proposed legislation — Assembly Bill 1445 — to place a $5.8 billion statewide water bond before the voters. Of that, $4.8 billion from my proposal would go to increase ground and surface water storage capacity. For example, it could provide the resources needed to build two projects such as the Sites Reservoir near Maxwell and the Temperance Flats project near Fresno. The $1 billion remaining would go toward funding projects that improve water quality to ensure clean drinking water. We would be increasing the storage at the Sites Reservoir by 1.8 million acre-feet and at Temperance Flat by 1.3 million acre-feet.
My proposal will help California improve its water quality, protect fragile ecosystems and reserve water for emergencies like our current drought. It would also protect the "area of origin" rights for North State farmers and ranchers.
While you may read about other water bond proposals, I believe this legislation is the best solution to solve our present crisis. We are the only bond to provide total funding to build two dams for water storage and fund projects for clean water. Additionally, it is about half the cost of other bond proposals. In effect, my legislation could provide twice the water for half the price.
Assembly Bill 1445 also rejects the pork projects and special interest giveaways that hurt taxpayers and undermine the public's trust. More importantly, it doesn't include the costly and controversial Delta tunnels project proposed by the governor.
At the end of the day, we cannot let competing interests prevent a water bond proposal from going before the people at the ballot box. The clock is ticking, and we need to act soon. If Sacramento continues to bog down a water bond proposal, then it may be time to go directly to the people.
No longer can we see water as a Northern or Southern California issue. Our current drought affects the entire state. I will need your help to make sure this important piece of legislation passes. Call your legislator and tell them that you support AB 1445. Visit my website, Morewatercalifornia.com, and sign my online petition so we can show Sacramento that we need to act now to secure our water future for all Californians.
Dan Logue, R-Loma Rica, represents the 3rd Assembly District.