Lawmakers may vote on $11 billion water bond this week

Lawmakers may vote on $11 billion water bond this week

California lawmakers are expected vote on so-called water bond plan as early as this week as the state's Democratic-controlled legislature has until June 26 to substitute its own plan for the Schwarzenegger plan, though the cut-off date can be extended.

The proposed water bond plan would enhance the drought-hit state's water supply with measures like creation of new reservoirs, underground water storage and environmental cleanup. Many experts see the plan, which proposes to sell $10.5 billion in bonds to generate funds for various water projects, as the only way to improve water supply in the state.

It proposes $500 million for drinking water treatment; $1 billion for groundwater treatment; $900 million for habitat restoration; $925 million for watershed restoration; $400 million for wastewater treatment; $400 million for levees; and $1.9 billion for drought response & regional water-supply development.

But, the plan has been caught in lawmakers' internal strife for the last several months, even as the state is in the clutches of drought for the third year in a row. The plan will have to win support from at least two-thirds of the Legislature, Governor Jerry Brown as well as state voters.

Democrat Sen. Lois Wolk, whose district includes the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, said, "We're closing in on a vote. Given the drought, we need storage."

Water agencies of the state are in limbo as the governor, the key player in the game, has so far not declared his support for the water bond measure. Gov. Jerry Brown declared the state's drought an emergency in January, and committed millions to help the affected people. But, he is apparently hesitant to ask voters to approve the bond-sale to finance new water projects as it would increase burden on taxpayers, which in turn could affect elections in November this year.

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