Peripheral Canal

A Tale of Two Water Bills

When time permits, we plan to write more in the future about the recently adopted water bills. This legislation will require affirmation by California voters in the November 2010 election. For now, though, we only offer this brief placeholder post.

On Monday, November 9, 2009, Governor Schwarzenegger traveled to Friant Dam for the purpose of signing into law the $11.14 billion water bond legislation. Hailing the signing as the culmination of a historic consensus that will ensure water supply while restoring the environment, the Governor was joined by Senator Dave Cogdill, the California Latino Water Coalition, and others:

Courtesy of Arnold Schwarzenegger, via Twitter.

Meanwhile, others reading the very same statutory text react so differently one might think they were reading an entirely different bill. Following the Governor’s announcement (delivered in Stockton) that he would fix the Delta by building a canal around it, Assemblymember Alyson Huber gathered two thousand postcards from her constituents to protest the Governor’s storage and conveyance-focused agenda, which was directly manifested in the water bond. Huber handed the postcards to Aaron McLear, the Governor’s spokesperson:

Courtesy of Associated Press.

The legislation remains unpopular with many people — including environmentalists pushing for a better conservation mandate and stronger recognition of the public trust, as well as Delta interests, who have felt slighted by legislation that seeks to dictate the Delta’s future but which was enacted without thoroughly engaging the affected parties.

Huber had previously introduced ABX7 13 (co-sponsored by Senator Wolk), a bill that encapsulates the distrust that pervades water politics in California. Huber’s bill would have required a Peripheral Canal to survive a legislative vote before it could be constructed, and would have also subjected the canal to an economic feasibility study carried out by the Legislative Analyst. Her proposal was not integrated into the final legislation.



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