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Outline sheds new light on Brown's $6-billion water bond plan

Jerry BrownPoliticsWater SupplyGovernmentConservationEcosystems
Gov. Jerry Brown wants a $6-billion water bond, significantly smaller than plans put forward by legislators.
Gov. Brown's proposal for a $6-billion water bond would include $1.5 billion for groundwater cleanup

Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal for a pared-down $6-billion water bond would include $1.5 billion for water quality projects such as groundwater cleanup and $1.5 billion for watershed protection, according to an outline provided to stakeholders.

An administration source said negotiations surrounding the water bond remain fluid. But the framework sheds new light on how Brown proposes divvying up funding for the myriad water infrastructure projects that a new bond would finance.

Brown’s office would not confirm the document. The governor has not commented publicly on the water issue in weeks, although he did meet with legislative leaders Tuesday to convey his desire for a slimmer bond.

According to multiple stakeholders who received the proposal, Brown’s $6-billion framework would include:

  • $1.5 billion for water quality and supply reliability. That includes groundwater cleanup — a major priority for Los Angeles-area lawmakers -- safe drinking water programs, wastewater treatment and storm water capture. The outline does not specify how the $1.5 billion would be divided among projects.
  • $1.5 billion for watershed protection, watershed ecosystem restoration and state settlement obligations.
  • $2 billion for water storage projects, such as dams, reservoirs and underground storage.
  • $500 million for levee construction, flood protection and ecosystem restoration in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta
  • $500 million for statewide flood management

The outline also states that the bond would be neutral regarding the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, the governor’s controversial proposal to build giant twin tunnels under the Delta to transport water to Central and Southern California.

The $6-billion price tag is significantly lower than that of the $11.1-billion bond on the ballot. Lawmakers are seeking to replace that bond -- which has been widely criticized as laden with earmarks -- with a new plan.

So far the Legislature's proposals have ranged from $8.2 billion to $10.5 billion. The plan must get two-thirds vote in the Legislature and Brown's signature to be placed on the ballot. 

Follow @melmason for more on California government and politics.

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