Opinion Editorial
Editorial

A watered-down water bond for California

Drop the old $11-billion water bond and give voters one they can pass

California lawmakers pulled an $11.1-billion water bond from the 2010 ballot because they knew it was too big to pass. They did the same thing with the same measure in 2012.

Now that same bond is headed toward November's ballot despite Gov. Jerry Brown's warning that he would support only a smaller, $6-billion version. The state does indeed need a water bond — to fund projects to make better use of its most precious resource through efficiency and recycling; to store water in wet years for use in sustained droughts like this one; to ensure water quality in struggling communities throughout the state; and to repair damage to sensitive ecosystems, most notably in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, which supplies water to most Californians. Lawmakers should make success more likely by finally letting go of the old bond and crafting a trimmer bond that voters can embrace.

That means not making the bond a referendum on proposed twin tunnels to move Sacramento River water around, instead of through, the delta. The tunnel proposal continues to move forward on a separate track and would not be funded by any version of the bond. So it's a shame that much of the dickering in Sacramento focuses on the tunnel project and whether bond-funded delta restoration would help or hurt it. Delta restoration should proceed with or without the tunnels.

In addition to storage, environmental restoration and efficiency projects, the bond is needed for groundwater, which after too many years of delay has finally found its place atop the state's priority list. As this page noted Thursday, some aquifers are threatened by wastewater produced by fracking; and as discussed here Tuesday, much of California's groundwater supply is being too rapidly depleted and should be governed by sensible management of the type proposed in AB 1739 and SB 1168.

The third piece of the groundwater puzzle is the cleanup of contaminated aquifers in the San Fernando Valley and similar basins to allow better use of local water supplies and decrease demands on the delta and other sources of imported water. The path to more usable groundwater and more sustainable water imports is a bond that funds groundwater cleanup — if only lawmakers can complete their work before the deadline for the ballot passes this month.

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
  • The invisible high price of your little bottle of water
    The invisible high price of your little bottle of water

    Bottled water is usually a waste of money and, beyond that, an environmental mess. American buy 50 billion bottles of water each year, and recycle less than one-fourth of those bottles. It’s a tremendous source of landfill waste, but worse, 17 million barrels of oil are used each year...

  • The problem of dual citizenship
    The problem of dual citizenship

    Before becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen, immigrants must take an oath that says, in part, "I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been...

  • America needs to study the enemy within
    America needs to study the enemy within

    When I was living in Chile in 1968, my Chilean friends often explained to me proudly that their country was different from other Latin American countries. Chile had a long democratic tradition. Its armed forces had rarely and only briefly meddled in the government, and not at all since 1932....

  • Why real change in Cuba won't come easy or fast
    Why real change in Cuba won't come easy or fast

    The historic agreement between Presidents Obama and Raul Castro has opened what Obama calls "a new chapter" in relations between the United States and Cuba, but we are still on the first page. The rest of the chapter remains to be written. What comes next?

  • What happens when your college crush won't commit?
    What happens when your college crush won't commit?

    "I knew you and I were a perfect match,” the young man begins, “ever since I laid eyes on you at my sister's graduation. And spending time together this past year, learning everything there is to know about you, has only made me more convinced that you're the one for me.

  • The Hippocratic oath and the terminally ill
    The Hippocratic oath and the terminally ill

    The Hippocratic oath, a roughly 2,000-year-old text with only marginal relevance to medicine today, continues to have an outsize influence on us.

  • Doyle McManus' 2014 hits and misses
    Doyle McManus' 2014 hits and misses

    "Prediction is difficult, especially about the future,” Yogi Berra once said. Wait — let me correct that. It wasn't Yogi Berra; it was Niels Bohr. Or maybe Mark Twain.

  • 10 tips for a better life from The Times' Op-Ed pages
    10 tips for a better life from The Times' Op-Ed pages

    What to do about rude people? Anti-vaxxers? Ignorant voters? Here’s some of the most popular advice The Times’ op-ed pages dispensed in 2014.

Comments
Loading