FAIRFIELD — State Sen. Lois Wolk has proposed a $5.6 billion state water bond, one that includes no money for the controversial proposal to build twin tunnels to take water exports under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Instead, Wolk proposes to spend $1.5 billion on safe drinking water projects, $1.8 billion on water quality and watershed projects, $1.3 billion on flood control and $1 billion for water system operations improvements such as groundwater storage and recycled water storage.
Senate Bill 42 prohibits using bond money to build or do mitigations for a new water conveyance project.
“It focuses on funding the most effective, broadly supported projects that will meet the state’s most urgent water needs,” Wolk said in a press release.
SB 42 addresses the needs of more than 2 million Californians who don’t have access to clean drinking water and more than 1 million Californians who are vulnerable to floods. It addresses ecosystem restoration and levee improvements in the Delta, the press release said.
Wolk wants this $5.6 billion bond to replace the $11 billion state water bond scheduled to go before voters in 2014. The state Legislature agreed to that $11 billion bond measure in 2009.
But Wolk has long criticized the 2009 bond measure, saying items got added by the Legislature in the middle of the night to win passage. It has such items as $3 million for a Lake Tahoe water taxi. Wolk last year said her bond proposal wouldn’t be a Christmas tree or bloated.
In addition, Wolk has said the 2009 bond measure doesn’t have the support of the Delta counties, the Bay Area and Northern California.
“It’s very important the areas of great controversy be avoided,” Wolk said in December 2012, when she introduced SB 42 without a bond amount. “It’s not necessary to have anything to do with the canals or tunnels in 2014.”
The Solano County Board of Supervisors gave its support to SB 42 at its April 9 meeting. At that point, Wolk had yet to finalize the price tag, though county officials said the price would be in the $5 billion range.
Supervisor Skip Thomson had some reservations, saying he didn’t want to support anything that might support the state’s Bay Delta Conservation Plan.
State plans include building 35-mile-long water export tunnels under the Delta. County concerns include possibly having saltier water in local bays and sloughs and having farmland lost to habitat restoration associated with the tunnels because of Endangered Species Act laws.
But Supervisor Jim Spering told his colleagues that Wolk knows about Solano County’s issues.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.