The bloated bond was part of a landmark two-piece water package passed by the Legislature at dawn after an all-nighter. The second part created a streamlined governing structure for the delta and a pathway to construction of the tunnels. It also required water conservation and groundwater monitoring.
But the second piece ultimately will require bond money to implement. Not the tunnels, however. They would be financed by water users through higher rates.
Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis), who represents four delta counties, says the current bond proposal should be ripped up and a new one written — focusing on delta restoration, cleaning up drinking water throughout the state, flood protection and regional water needs, such as recycling.
"Times have changed since 2009," she notes.
One thing that has changed is the Legislature. Of the 120 current lawmakers, Wolk calculates, only 44 were members when the bond passed. In the 80-member Assembly, only 13 were around, and six voted against the bond.
Substantively, dam advocates now are willing to consider requiring water users — rather than general taxpayers — to pay more of the construction cost through higher rates.
"I'm a realist," says Quinn, who represents 450 water agencies. "I'm prepared to sit down and talk about it."
And virtually everyone agrees the bond size must be significantly reduced.
"Make it lean and mean — $6- to $7 billion," Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) told me.
Capture more Sierra snowmelt. Restore salmon runs. Clean up underground water. Expand recycling.
Forget bike trails and land buys. Look voters in the eye with a straight face.