To the Editor,
The state finally has a water bond that recognizes how fire affects our watersheds, and provides funding to both prevent fires and treat burned areas after fires pass through. Prop. 3 includes $50 million for Cal Fire to improve our watersheds, reduce fire danger, remove hazardous trees, thin regrowth after fires, and otherwise restore our watershed. These programs will improve both the quality of the water and the quantity and distribution pattern of flow within our watersheds. This is the first time the state proposes to invest serious money in a way which protects rural communities by reducing fire danger, benefitting the watershed, and improving forest health.
Banning is threatened by blowing dust from the Salton Sea. As the Sea dries up, the seabed is being exposed. A south wind blowing through the pass could expose Banning residents to terrible air pollution. Prop. 3 includes $200 million to stabilize the Sea and avoid the dust problem, while restoring Salton Sea fish and wildlife.
Prop. 3 includes billions of dollars to repair and construct water storage and conveyance. It develops new water through capture of stormwater, wastewater recycling, desalting, and water conservation. It also includes funds for fish and wildlife protection and habitat restoration. Additionally, local Resource Conservation Districts can benefit directly from the funds provided by Prop. 3.
Many rural communities face serious drinking water quality and wastewater disposal problems. Prop. 3 includes $750 million to help local agencies solve these problems.
Every community in California relies upon a clean, safe and reliable water supplies and Prop. 3 provides enough new water supplies for three million families.
California can afford this bond. The state’s credit rating has vastly improved since the recession, the state has a large budget surplus, and only a few bond acts have been presented to the voters in recent years, leaving room for the Prop. 3 water bond. This is an opportunity to get the state to properly invest into our rural communities without raising taxes.
Prop. 3 does have opposition. The Sierra Club opposes Prop. 3 because they believe Prop. 3 is too high a financial cost for the state’s general fund and will result in environmental damage. They are also opposed to direct appropriations for infrastructure repair, feeling that the state should play a greater role in the allocation of funding regionally and are opposed to what they perceive to be a subsidy for state and federal water contractors.
On the other side, the State Association of Counties, League of California Cities, Senator Feinstein, and GOP candidate for governor endorse Prop. 3 and agriculture is in strong support. Prop. 3 is endorsed by the California Farm Bureau Federation, Agricultural Council, and Western Growers, while business groups supporting Prop. 3 include the California Chamber of Commerce and the California Business Properties Association.
Numerous environmental groups also support Prop. 3, such as the National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, Audubon California, Ducks Unlimited, California Trout, and California Waterfowl Association.
Prop. 3 is endorsed locally by Banning’s water provider the San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency, the Beaumont-Cherry Valley Water District, Eastern Municipal Water District, Western Municipal Water District, the Southern California Water Coalition, and the Inland Empire Waterkeeper.
Prop. 3 is a chance for our community to be more fire safe and improve water supply reliability and quality, but is not without opposition. Learn more at www.waterbond.org.
Matteo Crow, Natural Heritage Institute