Governor Brown Should Tap Budget Surplus to Fund Promised Water Storage Project in South Central Valley
By Luis Alvarado, President of Familias Unidas de California
Governor Brown has seen it all before. Severe drought conditions that plagued the state in 1976-1977 looked eerily familiar to the California’s most recent drought. On both occasions, Governor Brown took the initiative to declaring a state of emergency.
In 2014, with California experiencing such unpredictable weather, Brown emphasized the importance of water storage. He rightly exerted his leadership by campaigning for Proposition 1 – a measure to build water storage projects that would help our state capture more water to get us through future drought cycles. Brown visited the southern part of the Central Valley, urging all of us to put our trust and votes on his proposals. The state voted overwhelmingly in favor of the water bond.
Although over two-thirds of Californians approved this measure, the California Water Commission has decided a key project in the valley – the Temperance Flat Dam project that would create a new reservoir that would hold up to 423 billion gallons of water – is not worthy of full funding.
Instead, the commission awarded the Temperance Flat Dam project a paltry $170 million, which is well short of the $1 billion it needed to actually build more storage.
This has been extremely disappointing because without more funding, the effort to provide the Central Valley with more water was an empty promise.
The state’s hydrologists, Governor and elected officials believe that climate change will have a massive effect on our water supply in future decades, creating longer periods of drought after short periods of heavy rain and snow.
It only makes sense to prepare for climate change fallout by finding a way to build more storage. The Governor and Legislature should not ignore the problem.
Given the life-sustaining importance of water storage, it is time for the Governor to exert his authority and work with the California State Legislature to find solutions that will provide the necessary funding to complete the project.
California currently has a $7.5 billion budget surplus. There is no better time than now to fund the Temperance Flat Dam project. The ability of California to prepare for climate change hinges on Governor Brown’s continued focus to bring more water storage to the southern Central Valley.