How Prop 3 Helps Ensure California’s Water Future

  • by Timothy Quinn
  • Sep 7, 2018
  • Voices on Water

(The following op-ed was published in the San Diego Union-Tribune on Sept. 6, 2018.)

At no other time in California’s history have its citizens faced such a complex array of extremes affecting the quality and resiliency of our water supply. But if you’re an optimist like me, you can recognize that 2018 gives us an ideal opportunity to make a significant impact, overcome challenges and ensure the best chance possible toward securing California’s water future.

Securing California’s water future has become an increasingly challenging task in the past decade with years of historic drought, periods of record flooding, a strain on aging infrastructure, desperate need for more storage and continued lack of safe drinking water for some communities. Meanwhile, we need to invest in our statewide water system to respond effectively to our growing population, changing ecosystem needs, climate change and its impacts on public safety and long-term water supply reliability.

This November, California voters will have the opportunity to help support significant change by voting in support of Proposition 3, an $8.8 billion water bond that could fund new technologies for local water supply such as water reuse and storm water capture, safe water for disadvantaged communities, watershed restoration, fish and wildlife protection, sustainable groundwater management and repair of existing dams and canals.

On a local level, San Diego would benefit significantly under Proposition 3, with local organizations and projects qualifying for at least $330 million in funding for a variety of uses benefiting water supply and quality, as well as conservation. The funding could benefit projects ranging from conservancy for the San Diego Bay and San Diego River, to wastewater recycling, stormwater management, groundwater desalination and water conservation efforts that will further reduce local dependence on imported water.

San Diego would also be eligible to compete for roughly $5 billion in Proposition 3 funds with organizations from other parts of the state. Water challenges confront every region in California and, if approved, Proposition 3 funding can overcome those challenges no matter what part of our state you live in, and no matter what San Diego County community you call home.

Recent polling shows a vast majority of Californians (68 percent of likely voters) understand the need for Proposition 3 and support the measure, but there is too much at stake to even consider taking its passage for granted. At stake is our ability to seize an opportunity to meet tough challenges head on with the necessary resources.

On a statewide level, increasingly catastrophic wildfires have become the “new normal.” But we are far from helpless bystanders. Proposition 3 also devotes significant resources toward forest restoration, which includes tree thinning efforts that help prevent the size and scale of wildfires while also improving the health of California’s watersheds, on which we heavily depend on for water no matter in which corner of the state you live.

California’s economy depends on a reliable water supply. This measure provides water to meet our future needs, keep our family farms and businesses productive, and put Californians to work. Those are a few reasons why Proposition 3 enjoys broad support from water agencies (including the San Diego County Water Authority), environmental and conservation groups, agricultural organizations, businesses, elected officials and local governments. My own organization, the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA), is on this long list of supporters.

We must seize the opportunity to lay the groundwork for a more secure water future. ACWA stands strong in its support of Proposition 3 and urges you to learn more about this measure and cast your vote in November.

To learn more, including benefits specific to San Diego and Southern California, visit

Quinn is executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies, whose members are responsible for 90 percent of the water delivered to cities, farms and businesses in California. He can be reached at

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