Monumental plans to overhaul California’s water system — decades in the dreaming and months in the works — finally emerged from an exhausted Legislature early Wednesday, defying regional squabbles to become the signature accomplishment in a year mostly lamented for budget cuts.One of the provisions, requiring residents to cut back on water use 20% by 2020, sounds challenging but really, isn't that difficult at all. For many, that goal is achievable with a single household upgrade.
The overwhelmingly bipartisan reforms — which Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signaled he would approve — firmly nudge the state into changing the way it uses and manages its precious water supplies.
“This is the best investment in the future of California anyone can make,” Schwarzenegger said Wednesday. The state Senate gave final approval to the last in a series of five bills just before 6 a.m.
Water use statewide will be reduced, with agencies required to draw up plans for city residents to cut back 20 percent by 2020. Groundwater supplies will be measured all across the state — ending California’s status as the lone Western state that does not regulate groundwater.And more than $11 billion in bond money would be set aside for new dams, regional water projects, groundwater cleanup and land preservation — if, that is, voters approve the hefty bond sale next year. That may not be a given, with the state’s chronic deficits and warnings from the state treasurer that paying the debt on those bonds could detract from spending for already-strapped social programs.
Overall, this is great news for the entire state, and a significant accomplishment by the legislature. Kudos to them on finding a way to get this done!