ACWA Identifies Priorities for 2014 Water Bond

ACWA’s Board of Directors has identified guidelines for modifying the 2014 water bond to protect key priority areas and aid its passage next year.

The ACWA Board, already on record in support of the $11.14 billion water bond currently set for the November 2014 ballot, has provided direction to staff to support some reductions to the bond while prioritizing funding for elements that have statewide significance, including water storage, ecosystem restoration, substantial support for local resources development, and funding for disadvantaged communities and rural areas.

The concepts, discussed by the ACWA board at its March 29 meeting in Sacramento, stem from a statewide California Water Finance Task Force convened by ACWA this year to explore options for improving the bond’s viability in 2014. The task force includes a diverse cross-section of ACWA members representing urban and agricultural water agencies around the state.

“ACWA strongly believes that public funding through a water bond is an appropriate way to finance the public benefits of investing in our water system. We recognize, however, that significant changes, including reducing the overall size of the existing bond and addressing the perception that the bond contains too much ‘pork,’ will be required to secure the passage of a water bond in 2014,” ACWA Executive Director Timothy Quinn said. “As a statewide organization, ACWA intends to prioritize funding for bond elements of true statewide importance so we can advance solutions that work for our members throughout the state.”

The ACWA Board acknowledged that the bond will need to be downsized and voiced support for several guidelines for potential changes to the current bond including:

  • Avoiding “earmarks” that allocate funds for specific projects without a competitive process;
  • Protecting bond funding for the public benefits of water storage projects, ecosystem restoration beyond mitigation obligations, and support for local resource development projects, including those in disadvantaged communities and rural areas;
  • Rejecting statewide fees on water to pay for statewide public benefits;
  • Supporting substantial investment in local resources development and looking for ways to maximize funding at the regional level.

“We want this bond to be successful so we can move forward with critical investments in these areas. It is up to us to discipline ourselves as we reshape it for success in 2014,” Quinn said.

Legislative leaders have indicated that modifications to the bond may be taken up later this year after passage of the state budget. ACWA will continue to play a leadership role in water bond discussions over the coming months.

ACWA has scheduled a Town Hall on the water bond and potential modifications at the upcoming ACWA 2013 Spring Conference & Exhibition in Sacramento. The session is set for 1:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. on Thursday, May 9.

For questions, contact ACWA Deputy Executive Director, Government Relations Cindy Tuck at 916-441-4545 or cindyt@acwa.com.