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Initiative would allocated two percent of state budget to water | News

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There have been all kinds of efforts and money allocated to trying to solve California’s water woes. Now an organization states it has the solution — the 2 percent solution.

In what it’s calling the 2 percent solution More Water Now is working to place an initiative on the November 2022 ballot that would require 2 percent of the state budget to be allocated to the state’s water resources. If placed on the ballot and approved the water abundance ballot initiative would set aside 2 percent of the state budget to water.

There has been a great deal of water allocated toward dealing with California’s water issues, which includes a $7.5 billion bond measure that was passed by the state’s voters in 2014. But seven years later that bond has done little to place a dent in dealing with the state’s water woes.

Governor Gavin Newsom has also presented a $5.1 billion plan to address all of the state’s water issues, including water infrastructure and drinking water.

But More Water Now states its initiative is another bond and wouldn’t raise taxes. It would instead set aside 2 percent of the state budget toward water needs, allocating about $4 billion a year to finance water projects. The organization states is a statewide coalition of people and organizations who’s spearheading the initiative effort.

The organization notes it’s required 38 percent of the state budget goes to education and if 38 percent can be set aside for education that “surely” 2 percent can be dedicated to water.

Bond after bond approved by voters has been raided and derailed for purposes other than what voters authorized,” the organization stated. “That ends now. This airtight initiative rights all those wrongs.”

The initiative would give priority to underfunded projects already approved by the California Water Commission, who administer the 2014 water bond.

Sites Reservoir and Temperance Flat Reservoir will receive the money they need to put shovels in the ground immediately,” the organization stated.

Also funding from the initiative would be allocated to repairs to fix the problems Central California’s three major water supplies have with conveyance, delivering water: the Friant-Kern Canal, the California Aqueduct and the Delta-Mendota Canal. Locally, repairs on the Friant-Kern Canal are set to begin, using a combination of federal, state and local funds.

The organization said that will lead to “when we have more water in storage, we can maximize our conveyance capacity along with our ability to move that water around.”

The organization went on to state the initiative “will upgrade and maintain our dams to the standards one would expect in the world’s fifth largest economy. It will pay for desalination, underground water storage, and water recycling to potable use standards.

It will ensure this state is able to supply every household and business with clean and safe water at last. It will safeguard the irrigation water farmers need to put our agricultural lands back into full production.”

The organization also stated the initiative will help the environment as it would lead to maintaining adequate underground aquifers for the pumping of groundwater and stop the subsidence, essentially the sinking of surface water sources such as the Friant-Kern Canal. That would lead to curbing the loss of rich and vital top soils, the organization stated.

The initiative will also require that it will stay in place until at least five million new acre feet of water can be delivered annually. “The water will be prioritized for farmers and families,” the organization stated.

The organization stated no new water would be set aside for wildlife of fish habitat, but that no water would be taken away from wildlife or fish habit, either.

The initiative would be passed as an amendment to the state’s constitution. This would protect it from lawsuits. The only way it can be overturned is if a majority of voters voted to overturn it with another ballot initiative.

As far as any litigation in which the coalition behind the initiative would realize legal fees, those legal fees would be funded by the initiative as a way to prevent opponents who may have a lot more money from draining the coalition’s resources.

The coalition stated to initiative “would require all administrative processing and judicial review of water projects funded to be streamlined and expeditiously executed. There shall be no more more dragging of feet and sandbagging of projects as we have seen happen for decades.”

There will also be a mandatory audit once a year of “every dollar” in the Water Supply Infrastructure Account in which any agency receiving funding will be required to provide an accounting of the money to the California State Auditor for public review.

This is a very clean and simple initiative that says what it is going to do, and does it,” the coalition stated. “It ends the worthless solution of managing families and farmers with more and more water cuts, and instead creates long overdue water abundance. This is the people taking control of their water resources and tax dollars, and using them to benefit people and food producers as a priority.”

The coalition noted about $50 billion over the next 10 years would be allocated from the initiative, which is less than this year’s state surplus.

The period for signatures to be taken for the initiative will be from November 1 until May 1, 2022. The coalition will need to collect 1.56 million verified signatures.

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