California — California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced Wednesday that supporters of the Safe, Clean, and Reliable Drinking Water Supply Act of 2010 will be trying to move its ballot date from November of this year to the 2012 November general election, according to a recent press release.
The act contains a multi-billion dollar water bond for a number of statewide water passage and storage projects. Schwarzenegger states in the release, “After reviewing the agenda for this year, I believe our focus should be on the budget – solving the deficit, reforming out of control pension costs and fixing our broken budget system.
“It’s critical that the water bond pass, as it will improve California’s economic growth, environmental sustainability and water supply for future generations. For that reason, I will work with the legislature to postpone the bond to the next ballot and avoid jeopardizing its passage.”
Sen. Dave Cogdill (R-Modesto), who introduced the bill, states in the press release, “I’m encouraged by the fact that a recent poll shows that 75 percent of voters believe passing a bond is important. By waiting until 2012, we can give the economy a greater opportunity to rebound and lessen economic concerns about this critical investment.”
That poll, conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California, asked likely voters how important the passage of the bond measure is to them, with 38 percent saying “very important,” 28 percent saying “somewhat important” and 10 percent saying “not too important.”
Schwarzenegger notes in the release that the bond is part of a water package passed in 2009, facets of which will not be affected by delaying the bond.
The bond is tied, however, to certain activities in Siskiyou County, including the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA) and the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA).
It is stated in the bond measure that if passed, the bond would provide $250 million for the removal of four dams along the Klamath River under the KHSA, coupled with $200 million from Oregon.
In order for the bond to provide the funds for the dam removal, four stipulations are made in the measure. Those include having California, Oregon, the United States and dam owner PacifiCorp engaged in a dam removal agreement; the dam removal decision from the Secretary of the Interior and the concurring decisions from the governors of California and Oregon must be made; PacifiCorp ratepayer funds required by the agreement must be authorized and timely provided; and all other conditions required in the agreement must be met.
The decision by the Secretary of the Interior is expected in 2011, with the governers’ decisions to take place afterward.
The bond would also make available $1.785 billion for appropriation by the legislature “for expenditures and grants for ecosystem and watershed protection and restoration projects” in a number of watersheds across the state – including the Klamath River watershed and the Trinity, Scott and Shasta rivers and watersheds.
The KBRA contains a number of Klamath restoration projects and appropriations, totaling approximately $970 million across 2012 to 2021. It is not stipulated in the bond what amount would go to which watershed in a list that includes but is not limited to 20 watersheds.
Another aspect of the bond is a provision that Siskiyou County would receive $20 million “for the purpose of economic development.”
At Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors meetings over the past year, it has been noted that the $20 million has been separated from the KHSA and KBRA processes since the initial proposal.