CALmatters

What an $8.9 billion water bond would buy

A 152-mile long canal that irrigates pistachios and other crops in the eastern San Joaquin Valley is sinking by an inch a month, the result of groundwater over-pumping by farmers.

The Sacramento Bee described the Friant-Kern Canal as an engineering marvel, but its capacity has been reduced by as much as 60 percent at because of subsidence.

The Bee: “Now it’s reaching a crisis point on the Friant-Kern, and California voters are being asked to fix it”

Proposition 3, an $8.9 billion water bond on the November ballot, would set aside $750 million to repair the canal, and additional sums to avert subsidence. Gerald Meral, a former water policy advisor to Gov. Jerry Brown, wrote the initiative.

Business groups and farmers, many of them seeking canal improvements, donated $1.75 million of the $2.75 million Meral raised for the initiative so far. Environmental groups attracted by the measure’s promise of billions for habitat restoration have given $1 million.

Some specifics: LA River $150 million; Salton Sea and San Francisco Bay wetlands restoration $200 million each; clean drinking water and water quality $3 billion.

Meral: “The state can’t continue to underinvest in water. We have people who don’t have adequate water supplies. It is a human rights problem.”

Opposition: Sierra Club warns Proposition 3 could be used to “fund dam projects that are harmful to the environment.” So far, there’s no funding for an opposition campaign.

P.S. Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox supports Proposition 3, telling CALmatters in a statement that it offers “the opportunity to build dramatically more storage and provide clean water.” Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom has not taken a stand.