State Sen. Lois Wolk is no maverick, but her opposition to the state’s twin tunnels water conveyance plan for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and her competing legislation certainly put her in maverick-like territory in the Democratic stronghold of the California Legislature.
Wolk, D-Davis, has long criticized an $11 billion state water bond, approved in 2009 and scheduled to go before voters in 2014.
She says unnecessary items were added to the 2009 legislation in the dead of night to win passage. She says the bloated 2009 bond measure is not supported by Delta counties, the Bay Area and Northern California. She says her plan – at $5.6 billion – is a better investment of the state’s limited tax dollars all the way around.
She’s correct on all points.
Wolk represents the 3rd state Senate District, which includes all of Solano and Napa counties, the majority of Yolo County and portions of Sonoma, Contra Costa and Sacramento counties. She knows the Delta region in particular and the Bay Area and Sacramento Valley in general. All are areas potentially affected by the state’s twin tunnels plan.
Wolk’s plan would fund safe drinking water projects, water quality and watershed projects, flood control projects and water system operations improvements such as groundwater storage and recycled water storage. There’s no money for the twin tunnels project that’s backed by Gov. Jerry Brown.
The state wants to build 35-mile-long water export tunnels under the Delta. The plan would require a wide array of environmental measures that could affect thousands of acres of Solano County farmland and make local bays and sloughs saltier than they are now.
That has local officials concerned, and rightly so. The Solano County Board of Supervisors voted in April to support Wolk’s Senate Bill 42 even before the dollar amount was attached to it in mid-August. They estimated at the time that Wolk’s plan would cost somewhere around $5 billion. They weren’t far off the mark.
So Wolk, in her final term in the Legislature, is in maverick mode on this issue.
Wolk’s bill is stuck in committee. It has no chance of passage in a state Legislature controlled by Democrats, which means voters will never have a chance to consider this more-prudent approach to protecting and enhancing California’s water supply.
Unless California voters defeat the $11 billion water bond in 2014.