Lawmakers reach deal on $7.5 billion water bond, Republican leader says

APphoto_California Drought State Agencies
A sign alerts visitors to water conservation efforts at the state Capitol, where lawn watering has been reduced because of the drought. The Legislature on Wednesday reached a deal on $7.5 billion water bond to increase and preserve the state’s water supply.
(Rich Pedroncelli / AP)

State Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff on Wednesday said a deal has been reached on a ballot measure for a $7.5 billion water bond, following a flurry of last minute negotiations over funding for new reservoirs.

Republican lawmakers had pushed for $3 billion for water storage projects, such as reservoirs, and ultimately agreed to a $2.7 billion plan.

The proposal awaits a vote in both the Assembly and Senate, scheduled for this evening, as well as Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature.

Huff (R-Diamond Bar) predicts “huge bipartisan support” for $7.5 billion water bond. Republican votes are required for the bond measure to pass, since it requires a two-thirds vote in both chambers to be placed on the November ballot.


Democratic Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg, of Sacramento, was more coy on pronouncing a deal but said he was “confident it’s going to be a very good day.”

“We hit the sweet spot when it comes to a balance between the various water needs of California -- between storage, groundwater, clean drinking water and the whole host of other investments that are in this bond,” Steinberg said in an interview before the vote.

The measure replaces an $11.1 billion bond written by lawmakers in 2009 that was set to go before voters this November. Legislators had already postponed a statewide vote on the bond twice, fearing criticism over its high price tag would doom it at the polls.

The new plan would authorize $7.12 billion in new borrowing and claims $425 million of previously-approved state bond money that has not been used.


It would put $2.7 billion toward storage projects, such as reservoirs, which was a top priority for agriculture interests in the Central Valley and Republican lawmakers.

Another $800 million would go towards cleanup of groundwater contaminants, which was a top priority for Los Angeles-area lawmakers.

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