FAIRFIELD — Solano County had some wins and losses in its efforts to help shape the newly crafted $7.5 billion state water bond that will go on the November ballot.
Local officials wanted to make certain the bond would have a category of money that could be used to build North Bay Aqueduct pumps at an alternate location. The pumps are located in an eastern Solano County slough and bring Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta water to Fairfield, Vacaville, Vallejo, Benicia and other cities.
The dead-end slough is subject to poor water quality. Solano County water officials want to build pumps in the Sacramento River and pipe the water to local water treatment plants.
The bond includes such a category, Solano County Water Agency General Manager David Okita said Thursday. The downside is that it contains only $87.5 million, he said.
Building the new pumps and piping system could cost $500 million to $600 million. The water agency would like the state to pay half the cost.
“We were hoping the bond would be a major source,” Okita said. “There really aren’t any other sources to get money of that magnitude out there.”
Plus, should statewide voters pass the bond, Solano County would have to compete to get a share of the $87.5 million. Other projects that could get money from this category are Delta ecosystem projects and Sacramento wastewater plant improvements.
“There’s a lot of competition for the $87.5 millon,” Okita said.
Okita said the bond contains good things for Solano County, such as money for Delta levees and money for the Delta Conservancy. The bond could make money available for projects on Putah Creek, he said.
State legislators representing the Fairfield-Suisun City area praised the bond measure.
State Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, has spent months helping to craft a state water bond. The Solano County Board of Supervisors gave its support for her legislation in April 2013, at a point when the legislation was still evolving and had no price tag.
The bond measure that will be on the November ballot isn’t perfect, Wolk said in a press release. It is a compromise. But it’s a win for the Delta and state and one that voters can support, she said.
“This bond is good for the Delta and all of California, and it’s affordable,” Wolk said.
Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Oakley, also praised the bond in a press release.
“This legislation will provide the Delta region with funding for critical projects and will ensure that my constituents have the opportunity to give their input on important bond expenditures,” Frazier said. “I will continue to work with the speaker to identify and secure additional funding for Delta projects that go beyond the water bond.”
Solano County Resource Management Director Bill Emlen at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting described county efforts to work with the Delta Counties Coalition on shaping the bond measure. The counties are Solano, Contra Costa, Sacramento, San Joaquin and Yolo.
Emlen talked of the county participating in recent meetings at the offices of Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Wolk and of various conference calls. The situation changed by the minute, he said.
Supervisor John Vasquez has been involved in Delta Counties Coalition talks. Others working on the bond measure said it is a statewide water bond and shouldn’t be Delta-centric, he said.
“You can have all kinds of medical conditions, but you have to take care of the heart,” Vasquez said.
The Delta is the heart of the state water system, he said.
Looming behind the water bond measure talks was the state’s proposal to build twin tunnels to take water exports to Southern California cities and Central Valley farms. Solano County and other Delta counties insisted that the water bond not further the twin tunnel plans.
The discussion at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting – one day before the bond measure got passed by the state Legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown – indicated the supervisors felt satisfied with the results.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.