With California into a third year of dry weather and several cities imposing restrictions on water use, the time has come for state leaders to "seriously consider" putting another water bond on the ballot, Senate leader Darrell Steinberg said today.
"I think what's going on now creates an urgency to seriously consider putting a bond on the ballot in 2014, and not later," Steinberg said.
The Legislature has twice deferred putting a water bond on the ballot since lawmakers approved doing so in 2009. Gov. Jerry Brown has been noncommittal about whether he thinks voters should be asked this year to approve bond spending on new water projects.
Steinberg said lawmakers need to work on re-writing a water bond for 2014 as well as spending money from prior bonds to address immediate needs.
"When it comes to giving our regions and our local governments the resources necessary to increase water supply, we need to look at those bonds," he said.
"And we ought to consider early in the session working together to appropriate whatever resources are necessary to help California through this particularly difficult time when it comes to water."
The Sacramento Democrat also said state leaders should re-think how they approach the controversial Bay Delta Conservation Plan, which would create two massive tunnels for moving water from north to south. He urged a focus first on measuring how much water could be saved through conservation, recycling and other means.
"That might help us define how much water needs to be ultimately available through an alternative facility around the Delta," Steinberg said.
PHOTO: The American River as it flows through Sacramento is at its lowest flows since 1993. Shown here on January 11, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/Randall Benton