April 25, 2013
Update on Water Bond Legislation and ACWA’s Activities
The Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee has scheduled a special order of business at its April 30 hearing to consider three bills related to the 2014 water bond. The recently amended bills – AB 143 (Perea), AB 295 (Salas) and AB 1331 (Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee) – would require reports on the need for bond funding in various categories.
Committee staff has indicated the bills are placeholder vehicles for what will eventually become legislation to modify the bond currently set for the November 2014 ballot. The study language included in the three bills for now will allow the measures to move through the process.
The committee chair, Assembly Member Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood), has indicated the three measures will likely pass out of committee as committee –authored bills. A brief hearing is expected to take place on the bills. ACWA and others will provide testimony.
Though the committee plans to move the study bills forward, legislative leaders have indicated that modifications to the water bond will not be taken up until later this year after passage of the state budget.
ACWA’s Direction on the Bond
As reported earlier this month, ACWA is supporting modifications to the current 2014 water bond to protect key priority areas and aid its passage next year.
At its March 29 meeting, ACWA’s Board of Directors approved guidelines for the modifications and directed staff to support some reductions to the bond while prioritizing funding for elements that have statewide significance. The guidelines stem from the work of a statewide California Water Finance Task Force convened by ACWA to explore options for improving the bond’s viability. The task force, which includes Board members from all 10 ACWA regions and is supported by a diverse working group of member agency experts, worked through a deliberative process to formulate its recommendations to the ACWA Board.
Based on the Board’s action and further discussion by the task force, ACWA’s go-forward direction includes:
* Avoiding “earmarks” that allocate funds for specific projects without a competitive process;
* Rejecting statewide fees on water to pay for statewide public benefits;
* Protecting current bond funding levels for the public benefits of water storage projects, Delta ecosystem restoration, and assistance for disadvantaged communities;
* Supporting substantial funding for local resources development projects, including Integrated Regional Water Management programs in both urban and rural areas, water recycling / conservation, and groundwater cleanup; and;
* Providing additional funding at the local / regional level for local projects by looking at new tools and approaches that could work for local water agencies.
ACWA has developed a Frequently Asked Questions document with further details on the association’s direction on the water bond. The FAQ is available here.
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.