Bipartisan water bond to face California voters on November ballot

In November, California voters will have an opportunity to vote on the $7.5-billion water bond, known as Proposition 1, that would provide critical funds for combatting one of the most severe droughts in the state’s history. The measure was approved by the California legislature and signed by Governor Jerry Brown in August.


In November, California voters will have an opportunity to vote on a measure that would provide critical funds for combatting one of the most severe droughts in the state's history.

The historic $7.5 billion dollar water bond, known as Proposition 1, was approved by the California legislature and signed by Governor Jerry Brown in August.

Some of the provisions in the water bond include:

  • $520 million to improve water quality for "beneficial use," for reducing and preventing drinking water contaminants, disadvantaged communities, and the State Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund Small Community Grant Fund.
  • $1.5 billion for competitive grants for multi-benefit ecosystem and watershed protection and restoration projects.
  • $810 million for expenditures on, and competitive grants and loans to, integrated regional water management plan projects.
  • $2.7 billion for water storage projects, dams and reservoirs.
  • $725 million for water recycling and advanced water treatment technology projects.
  • $900 million for competitive grants, and loans for, projects to prevent or clean up the contamination of groundwater that serves as a source of drinking water.
  • $395 million for statewide flood management projects and activities.

The bipartisan water bond was the product of negotiations led by Gov. Brown with legislators from both sides of the aisle. It will replace a larger, $11.14 billion water bond on the November ballot and it has garnered strong and widespread support.

"Proposition 1 is perhaps the most significant measure facing California voters this November," said Sergio Calderon, president of the Water Replenishment District Board. "Not only does it represent years of bipartisan hard work, but this investment is critical for needed infrastructure improvements on groundwater cleanup, safe drinking water programs, water recycling, water storage, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, as well as protections for our rivers and coastline."

"This bond is the right size at the right time for California," said John Coleman, president of the Association of California Water Agencies. "It will provide investments where we need them, including additional water storage to increase the amount of water that can be stored during wet years for use in dry times, sustainable groundwater management and strategies such as water recycling and conservation that will help us withstand future droughts."

Jeffrey Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, said, "The revised water bond recognizes the fiscal limitations of California at a time when significant water investments are acutely needed.

"A successful bond would advance a comprehensive California water policy agenda that would help meet the state's water needs and better prepare us for future droughts that are certain to come."

Even California farm groups are pleased with the bill.

"The severe water shortages we're currently experiencing result from 30 years of neglecting our water-storage system," said Paul Wenger, president of the California Farm Bureau Federation. "That neglect is magnified by the drought, and it's time to reverse that pattern of neglect. Placing this water bond on the November ballot gives Californians a chance to provide more water for our cities, for food production and for the environment."

Water shortages and restrictions are a daily reminder to California voters of the toll the prolonged drought has taken on the state. While this bill will not solve the problem entirely, it has the potential to at least provide some much needed relief. We'll see in November whether voters agree.

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