Legislature Needs to Ensure the Future of California's Water Supply, Right Now: Guest Commentary

By Rafter, Tracy | Daily News (Los Angeles, CA), August 1, 2014 | Go to article overview

Legislature Needs to Ensure the Future of California's Water Supply, Right Now: Guest Commentary


Rafter, Tracy, Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)


Time is running out, and so is California's water, as state lawmakers return to Sacramento after a July recess and resume efforts to craft a responsible and critically needed water bond for the November ballot.

Members of BizFed's grassroots alliance have long ranked water sustainability and reliability among their top concerns. The state acknowledged the vital need for funding to overhaul our water system five years ago, when a bond measure was first certified for the 2010 ballot. But it was delayed to 2012. And then delayed again to this year. The June 26 statutory deadline to get a new water bond on the ballot came and went, and placeholder language bought legislators a few more weeks to negotiate. But ballot printing - and translation into nine other languages - is supposed to begin in August. There is no more time to tread water on this issue.

Last year was California's driest in more than a century. With a declared state of emergency, fines for wasting water have been authorized, state officials are prepping for possible water shortages, some restaurants are no longer serving water automatically, and for the first time in more than a decade, drought or water supply has surpassed air pollution as Californians' top environmental concern, according to a Public Policy Institute of California survey.

BizFed's vast alliance of more than 120 business networks representing more than 265,000 businesses and more than 3 million employees across LA County has proactively engaged the issue. In June, BizFed established a list of principles and elements necessary in any state water bond, including funding for groundwater remediation and storage projects, Bay Delta ecosystem restoration and protection, and development of local and regional supplies from water recycling and desalination to stormwater and urban runoff capture and treatment.

Last month, the BizFed Institute convened a public forum at Woodbury University in Burbank that drew more than 150 business, community and opinion leaders to engage on the complex challenges and opportunities around securing safe, reliable sources of clean water to sustain life and business in Southern California.

The message from experts at the "NextUp Business Forum: Clean Water for Life and Business" was clear: Funds are desperately needed for a variety of interconnected water-system projects. …

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