|SCWA benefits from bond
The $7.54 billion water bond approved by the Legislature and signed by the Governor on Wednesday, Aug. 20, could provide significant resources to the Sonoma County Water Agency and other North Bay water providers.
The Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act provides funding to enhance local water supply and quality, increase the use of recycled water, protect and develop groundwater resources, improve and restore watersheds and beef-up water conservation programs.
“We applaud the Legislature and the Governor for coming together to place a bond on the ballot that addresses statewide water issues and is fiscally responsible,” said Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Chairman and Water Agency Director David Rabbitt.
“This bond balances the need to improve the State Water Project while still providing funding for programs that will benefit Sonoma County.”
The $7.54 billion bond replaces an $11.1 billion bond that was approved by the Legislature in 2009 (before the recession) but was delayed being placed on the ballot until this November. The new bond includes $810 million for regional water programs, to create drought resiliency and new supplies, including $510 million for Integrated Regional Water Management, of which the North Coast would receive $26.5 million and the Bay Area would receive $65 million. The Water Agency includes portions of both regions, and, with its regional partners, would be eligible for grants from this funding.
“Thanks to the Legislature and the Governor, Sonoma County will benefit from this bond,” said Supervisor and Water Agency Director Mike McGuire.
“This bond could help make us less vulnerable in future droughts by potentially funding local storage projects, implementing successful recycled water initiatives and moving conservation and habitat enhancement projects forward which will benefit endangered fish.”
The bond provides $900 million for groundwater cleanup and sustainability and $200 million for projects to capture storm water to recharge groundwater aquifers or to be stored for future use.
“Our groundwater is a precious resource,” said Supervisor and Water Agency Director Shirlee Zane. “We’re excited about this bond, including possible funding for pilot projects that could help recharge groundwater levels.”
The measure includes $1.495 billion for rivers, streams, lakes and coastal watershed improvements, to help protect water quality and enhance or preserve in stream flows.
“The Russian River has three fish that are on the endangered species list. Our local water supply is dependent on enhancing our watershed to provide habitat and safe passage for Coho, Chinook and steelhead. The bond will provide funding that could help us meet these goals.” Said Supervisor and Water Agency Director Efren Carrillo.
The bond includes $725 million for recycled water projects, including for treatment, storage and distribution. The Water Agency operates eight sanitation facilities countywide, including three that provide recycled water for irrigation.
“Recycled water is a tremendous underused resource. This bond could help us expand our use of recycled water to farms, playing fields, parks and golf courses,” said Supervisor and Water Agency Director Susan Gorin.
In addition to the funding mentioned above, the bond provides $520 million to cleanup drinking water and beef-up small water systems, $2.7 billion for Delta storage and ecosystem improvements and $395 million for flood management.