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Another Water Bond?

Unsatisfied with Proposition 1, the $7.5 billion water bond approved by California voters last November, a former deputy secretary of the state’s Natural Resources Agency wants to put yet another water bond on the 2016 ballot.

Gerald Meral created the “The Water Supply Reliability and Drought Protection Act of 2016” and forwarded it to water agency officials and environmentalists in order to spur its placement on the ballot, according to The Sacramento Bee. Meral’s organization, the Natural Heritage Institute, may sponsor the bond, which it states would “fund programs which were not funded or were underfunded” in 2014’s water bond.

Meral admitted that the draft he wrote for the bond does not state the amount of funding it seeks, insisting, “Not too big. We shouldn’t get carried away.” He added, “The public seems pretty receptive to doing something about water. Whether they still will be next year, who knows? … We’re looking at it, anyway.”

The Bee reported that Meral’s bond would fund “water recycling, water conservation, groundwater desalination and watershed management,” as well as funding to stimulate property owners to seek drought-tolerant landscaping.

Yet Meral’s bond does not provide for water storage, other than grants to fix reservoirs used for flood control.

Jay Lund, Director of the UC Davis Center of Watershed Sciences, explained the importance of groundwater storage at last December’s ACWA conference in San Diego. He stated:

If you take all of the proposed surface storage facilities that are talked about and being studied, they are on the order of 4 of 5 MAF. This gives you an idea of how much you can expect out of just the storage component by themselves; if you don’t leverage it with other things, you’re not going to get very much … When it comes to droughts, we use groundwater more than surface water; when you get more than a two or three year drought, you’re relying almost exclusively on groundwater storage to get through that drought. So the idea of getting through century-long mega-droughts because you built surface water storage – we modeled those cases, those reservoirs never fill up. It’s groundwater; that’s all you got.

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