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By Senator Jim Nielsen, Special to the Sacramento Bee
When it comes to spending on water infrastructure to enhance water supply, protect farmers’ livelihoods and provide safe and affordable drinking water to California’s nearly 40 million residents, this state has flubbed it repeatedly. Californians desperately need Gov. Gavin Newsom to step up and be the solution, not the problem.
The state has failed to invest appropriately in large, statewide surface-water storage and conveyance, leaving California ill-prepared for drought conditions and jeopardizing its environmental and fiscal health.
In 2014, Californians overwhelmingly voted for Prop. 1, which included significant resources for critical, large surface-water storage that would provide a more reliable water supply. …
Seven years later, amid another drought emergency, the money Californians provided for storage in 2014 still go unused. About $2.7 billion of the $7.2 billion in Prop. 1 bonds was allocated specifically for water storage projects, but only $150 million has been authorized, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. To date, not one shovel has hit the ground, not one gallon of water has been stored. …
… The reality is California has not completed a major water storage project of statewide significance since New Melones Dam was completed in 1980.
Newsom needs to take an active leadership role in directing state agencies to expedite permitting and make water storage a priority.
Instead, the governor has demonstrated an affinity for acting on his own.
We simply cannot continue to supply water to 40 million people with a system designed for 19 million. This state is woefully, inadequately prepared, and without substantial new investments in infrastructure to provide additional water supply and move water where it is needed, California will remain in a state of perpetual drought.
State Sen. Jim Nielsen represents California’s 4th senate district, which spans from Sacramento to Tehama County.