Geoff Vanden Heuvel
Director of Regulatory and Economic Affairs
This week, a citizen initiative was submitted to the California Attorney General’s office for review and “title and summary” designation. The initiative, which would have to achieve well over a million signatures to be placed on the ballot, proposes to “Require the transfer of two percent (2%) of the State’s General Fund Revenue each and every year into a trust account until the State certifies that water projects funded, in whole or in part, have created a minimum increase of five million acre-feet (5,000,000 AF) of additional annual water supply that can be reliably delivered to Californians every year thereafter.”
When it comes to funding eligibility for water supply development projects, this proposal takes an “allof-the-above” approach. Specifically cited is expansion of groundwater and surface water storage, improved conveyance, water reuse and recycling projects and desalinization of brackish and ocean water along with conservation.
The very first declaration in the initiative is:
“The People of the State of California find and declare all of the following:
(A) Pure, plentiful and affordable water is fundamental to our quality of life and key to the economic development of our community. Previous Constitutional Amendments have prioritized spending for public education, public safety and transportation.
(B) It is long-past time for Californians to prioritize spending to increase California’s storage and supply of clean, safe drinking water for homes and businesses, water for agricultural use, and treatment, purification, reclamation of stormwater and wastewater, while responsibly protecting the environment. The answer to drought is to increase the supply of water, through surface and subsurface storage, waste water treatment, and desalinization, including ocean and inland brackish water.”
This initiative is at the beginning stages of the process. The Attorney General’s office has a couple of months to review it and give it a title and summary. Then there will be about a six-month period to gather the one million plus signatures it will take to get it on the ballot and then of course a campaign and vote of the people, hopefully in November of 2022. It will take a lot of effort and money to get this to the finish line, but the vulnerability of our water supply has never been clearer to so many Californians as it today. Here is an opportunity to do something significant about it. For full disclosure, I am one of the five official proponents of the initiative. You can read the whole initiative here.