Danville Express

Newsfront - April 20, 2007

What to do about the water?

Houston's Water Supply Bond Act headed for hearing next week

by Natalie O'Neill

Roxanne Lindsay, field representative for state Assemblyman Guy Houston (R., 15th), told the Alamo Community Council last week that education, transportation and water are Houston's priorities this year.

Houston has co-authored the Reliable Water Supply Bond Act of 2008, which will go to a hearing April 24, Lindsay said.

"I think we are really going to be focusing on water this year. San Francisco has already issued some warnings," she noted.

The act outlines the need for expanded bond money for additional reservoirs that will supply water for drinking and agriculture. The legislation cites studies that predict climate changes, like decreasing snow pack run-off patterns, along with California's growing population as reasons for the proposed bill.

"It expands the ability to capture water and create new reservoirs ... we don't believe conservation alone will be enough," said Houston's Chief of Staff Aaron Bone.

The act would authorize $3.95 billion in bond sales of which $2 billion would go to surface water storage, $1 billion for Delta sustainability, $500 million for ground water, $200 million for a water use efficiency program, and $250 million for an environmental restoration program.

"It creates more drinking water and water for farming," Bone said.

While few groups have publicly opposed the bill to date, some Californians argue the bill benefits farmers more than the typical California resident. Forty-three percent of the state's water supply goes to farming, while only 11 percent goes to homes and businesses, according to a report from California Department of Water Resources from 2003.

But Bone added that California's population increases by about 600,000 per year and that new reservoirs for drinking water haven't been added in decades.

By 2020, California's population is expected to reach nearly 48 million while its snow pack runoff is expecting to decrease by 25 percent by 2050, according to studies cited by spokespersons for the bill.

As current laws exist, California has issued money for maintaining water sources but not for adding additional ones.

Alamo, Danville and Diablo residents who wish to give input on the bill or propose ideas for other legislature are encouraged to call Houston's office at 606-4990, Lindsay said.

Contact Natalie O'Neill at noneill@danvilleweekly.com

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