Backers of an $8.877 billion bond measure for various water-related infrastructure projects have received authorization to begin gathering signatures, Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced Thursday.
What author Gerald H. Meral has dubbed the “Water Supply and Water Quality Act of 2018” would authorize $3.03 billion in general obligation bonds for safe drinking water and water quality projects; $2.895 billion in general obligation bonds for watershed and fisheries improvements; $940 million in general obligation bonds for habitat protection; $855 million in general obligation bonds for improved water conveyance; $685 million in general obligation bonds for groundwater sustainability/storage; and $472 million in general obligation bonds for surface water storage/dam repairs.
In the initiative’s statement of findings, Meral wrote, “California’s recent historic drought raises serious questions about the long-term reliability of our current water supplies. The drought underscores the need to use our existing water supplies more efficiently, increase investments in our water infrastructure, and more effectively integrate our water system from the headwaters to the end user.”
If the initiative is approved by voters, it would result in state costs of $17.3 billion to pay off principal and interest on the bonds over a 40-year period, an average of $433 million a year, according to an analysis prepared by the Legislative Analyst and Department of Finance.
Valid signatures from 365,880 registered voters — 5 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the 2014 general election — must be submitted by March 19 to qualify the measure for the November 2018 ballot, according to Padilla.
—City News Service