Update on State Water Policy Issues

Published: October 29, 2009

Want an update on where the state is on water policy? Nowhere – as usual. And why we can’t get anywhere is pretty well summarized here.

Capitol Weekly recaps the week that was in water policy , and looks at the new bond proposals put forward Wednesday.

Water Resources director Lester Snowsaid Wednesday the state already has the authority to build the peripheral canal.

“We clearly have the authority to do that,” he said. “That’s not something that’s a mystery to us.”

Of course, some enviros don’t see it quite that way, but we can have that fight after a water bill is signed by the governor…

“In addition to the intricate policy details, politics has complicated the water talks throughout this months-long process. With the state’s budget facing what Assembly GOP leader Sam Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo, said could be a $20 billion deficit next year, taking on more debt to pay for water storage and upgrades may be a tough sell to voters.

“Republicans are aware of those political realities, and want to ensure that the changes to state water policy – which do not need to go before voter, and can be passed through the Legislature on a majority vote – are still good for the state, with or without a water bond.”

“It’s just real tough to find the right mix of water policy changes and financing that wins enough votes to pass the Senate and Assembly.

Lobbyists who have done the math say so. And water negotiations have progressed to the point where vote counting has begun.

“Here’s the problem in a nutshell: The top demand for liberal Democrats is a strong policy bill that wins the support of environmetnalists on changes such as new conservation laws and giving the State Water Resources Control Board new powers to enforce water rights laws. The GOP’s goal is a new bond to pay for dams and other water projects.

“But at the moment, Republicans aren’t totally satisfied with the policy changes. They, for instance, think the water board gains too much power and could levy expensive fees unfairly for alleged illegal diversions of water. Democrats counter that the powers are needed to capture more water savings.

Republican votes aren’t needed for the policy changes (it’s a majority vote bill). But the GOP says it won’t put up the votes for a bond — which requires a supermajority — until their policy demands are met. But if the policy bill changes much at all, environmentalits have threatened to walk away. And that will cost Democratic votes.”

There you have it, boys and girls. Water politics, 101.

To read the full Roundup, click here: http://www.capitolbasement.com/?1&_c=ydj48szq0n1dx8&_ce=1256836060.20e1c75f232e71b51c768aa6412bede1

Last modified: October 29, 2009 at 9:18 am | Originally published: October 29, 2009 at 9:18 am
Printed: September 25, 2020