Assembly drops plan to unveil $8.25-billion water bond; talks stall

Negotiations for an $8.25-billion water bond stalled Monday night, legislative sources said.

The Assembly scuttled plans to unveil the proposal at an Appropriations Committee hearing Tuesday morning, but people involved with the negotiations say discussions will continue through the day in hopes of pushing through a new measure before the Legislature goes on summer recess later this week.

The $8.25-billion proposal, the product of weeks of negotiations, carries a higher price tag than the $6-billion plan circulated by Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration last week. But it is pared down compared to other water bond measures floated by the Legislature, such as a $10.5-billion bond by Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis) that stalled in the Senate last week.


According to legislative sources, the proposal includes $2.75 billion for storage projects, such as dams and reservoirs -- a drop from the $3 billion that Republicans and some Central Valley Democrats had initially wanted.

The plan also includes a significantly winnowed allocation toward the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The bond would put $650 million toward the Delta, around $400 million would go to construction of levees and $250 million would be put toward ecosystem restoration.

How the Delta is treated in the bond has been a major point of contention with environmentalists and Delta lawmakers expressing concern that too much money for habitat restoration could pave the way for the Brown’s controversial plan to construct twin tunnels to move water south.

The measure would also put $900 million toward groundwater cleanup -- a top priority for Los Angeles-area lawmakers -- and an additional $900 million toward water recycling. There would be $150 million to clean up urban rivers and creeks, which could go toward the L.A. River.

The Legislature is seeking to replace an $11.1-billion water bond currently set to go before voters in November. That bond, originally written in 2009, has been criticized as too large and Gov. Jerry Brown has signaled that he would oppose the measure should it remain on the ballot.

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