Well, it's all over but the shouting. And you can count on there being plenty of shouting over the next 12 months. Governor Schwarzenegger has signed off on all but one of the five statewide water bills that were passed by the California legislature last week. He is expected to sign the fifth and final bill, the water conservation bill, sometime later today in San Jose, bringing a conclusion to the 2009 7th extraordinary legislative session, which was convened to discuss and resolve the ongoing water crisis affecting California.
The results of the session:
Four policy bills (Delta Plan & Governance, Groundwater Monitoring, Illegal Diversions and Water Conservation) and an $11 BILLLION, yes BILLION, water bond that will go before voters next November.
The policy bills should make some kind of impact on the water crisis, especially the water conservation bill, which "mandates" a 20% reduction in per capita water use by the year 2020. By the way, Long Beach is already in compliance with this legislation a full 11 years ahead of the 2020 deadline! Long Beach accomplished this by reducing its per capita water use from 129 gallons/day during the 1998-2007 years to its current amount of less than 103 gallons/day.
The challenge going forward will be to get other areas of the state to do the same, which will be very difficult since many cities aren't required to do more than a 5% reduction as per the language in the bill.
Beyond that, the big, and really the only question that matters, is whether or not voters will approve the $11 Billion bond next Fall. If the economy is still tanking, no doubt it will be difficult for the measure to pass. Add in significant opposition from a variety of groups and it's easy to be pessimistic on the chances of the bond's survival.
My next couple of posts will take a closer look at two of the water bills passed in this extraordinary session of the legislature. The first will be an in-depth look at the bond and all the things it will fund, followed by a summary of the water conservation bill.
The next year, which will culminate with a vote on the water bond in November 2010, should prove to be very interesting...