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Water: Yes on 81, 82, 83

State support for local water and sewer systems is more important than ever this year. And the 1987-88 drought has emphasized again the need to develop additional supplies through more efficient use of water. In support of these goals, The Times urges a yes vote for Propositions 81, 82 and 83 on the Nov. 8 statewide ballot.

All three measures are proposed bond issues that were put to the California electorate by near-unanimous votes of the state Legislature. All three continue programs that already have demonstrated their value to California residents.

The measures in brief:

Proposition 81, the California Safe Drinking Water Bond Law of 1988: This measure authorizes the state to sell $75 million in general obligation bonds to raise money to be lent to local agencies for the improvement of domestic water-supply systems. Generally, the funds are needed to improve water-treatment facilities and other works to enable the systems to meet state and federal water-quality standards. This support is particularly important because both the federal and state governments are toughening water standards, requiring more sophisticated treatment facilities and making it more costly to rid drinking supplies of unwanted pollutants.

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Proposition 82, Water Conservation Bond Law of 1988: The first in a series of water-conservation bond laws was approved by voters in 1984. About $77 million of those funds still are available, but the state Department of Water Resources has received requests for $215 million in assistance. Proposition 82 would authorize a $60-million bond sale in an attempt to meet at least part of the demands for such help. Of the total, $40 million would be in low-interest loans to local water agencies for conservation projects, such as the lining of irrigation canals and for replenishing depleted ground-water basins. The other $20 million would be in loans for the development of additional water supplies.

Proposition 83, Clean Water and Water Reclamation Bond Law of 1988. This has been a highly successful program since 1970, but it is more important than ever since the federal government is ending its program of grants to cities for construction of sewage-treatment plants. Of the $65-million total in bond funds administered by the state Water Resources Control Board, $25 million would be in grants to communities of population 3,500 or less for sewage-treatment plants; $30 million in loans for water-reclamation facilities, and $10 million to guarantee local agency bonds.

Voters face a long and complicated ballot in 1988, but they need not linger over Propositions 81, 82 and 83 because all of them deserve a quick and emphatic yes vote.


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