"The new water bond, AB 1471, is a substantial improvement on the bond voters would have faced in November. We were able to secure protections for the Delta that have no equivalent in the earlier bond, as well as needed funds for levee improvement to protect Delta communities. This agreement proves there is no necessary conflict between what's good for the Delta and what's good for the state.
The protections for the Delta that I and other Delta legislators fought for and were able to secure include restrictions that forbid instream flow purchases that are required to operate the Twin Tunnels.
Furthermore, AB 1471 requires the state and state agencies to coordinate any habitat restoration project in the Delta with our communities.
Perhaps most important, there was $1.5 billion in the 2009 bond specifically earmarked to fund and support the Bay Delta Conservation Plan and the Twin Tunnels. How much in AB 1471? $0.
AB 1471 also introduces the following restrictions on the use of bond funds:
- Forbids the use of the funds to "pay the costs of the design, construction, operation, mitigation, or maintenance of Delta conveyance facilities. Those costs shall be the responsibility of the water agencies that benefit from the design, construction, operation, mitigation, or maintenance of those facilities."
- Any water purchases involving bond funds are subject to public review, and may not be used to satisfy the requirements of the BDCP.
- Forbids the use of bond funds to acquire property via eminent domain.
- Prioritizes investment on lands that are already public.
- Allows bond funds on habitat restoration and related projects to be used to improve the quality of water for agricultural use in the Delta.
- Provides hundreds of millions of dollars to address critical flood protection needs in the Delta.
Together, these protections and the storage, clean drinking water and other important programs funded in the rest of the bond, comprise, if not a perfect bond, a vast improvement on the alternative that may very well have passed muster with voters, who are feeling the effects of California's ongoing drought.
The Delta's legislative delegation has provided voters with a better option; now it is for them to decide."