{NOTE} Game Changer PAC would like to remind all of you non-Californians out there that this affects you as well.  California, despite certain coastal communities, is an Agricultural Mega Giant and produces the vast majority of the fruits and vegetables consumed in the United States.

We in California are faced with a reality not experienced by most of the rest of the United States.  We are running out of water.  Here in California our water system was built to accommodate 17 million people.  This was was an outstanding achievement in the 1960’s when the population of California was around 15 million people.  Unfortunately in the last half century we have not done much to increase the capacity of our water system.

Instead measures were put in place to decrease the amount of water usage : Low flow toilets, water saving shower heads, drought tolerant landscaping, massive education campaigns – When I was in school in the 1980’s we were told “If it is yellow, let it mellow. If it is brown, flush it down”.  And more recently we added mandatory water conservation measures, limiting the days and times when you can water landscaping, ground water metering for those with wells, and coming soon : fines of up to $10,000 for water wasters.

The problem is not all of those conservation measures.. the problem is that California now has a population of 37 million+ living off of a water system built to handle 17 million.  And no major efforts have been made to increase storage capacity above that 17 million.

Now we find ourselves in a situation that in order to come out of this massive drought California needs 11 TRILLION gallons of water (33,757,715 acre feet of water) according to NASA .  To put that in perspective our current water system capacity in California is 13 TRILLION gallons (40,000,000 acre feet).

So, faced with this dire situation what are our elected officials in the state legislature doing?  Well, The Democrats in our state legislature are blocking bills that would help fix the problem.

In straight party line votes, democrats in the Assembly blocked 3 bills, on Monday, designed to fund and streamline water infrastructure projects. AB 397 , AB 956 , and AB 311 were all killed on Monday.

AB 397, authored by Assemblyman Devon Mathis, would have prohibited California from issuing any additional bonds for the state’s costly high-speed rail project, and diverted that funding toward the construction of statewide water projects.  Currently the high-speed rail project is estimated to end up costing over 98 BILLION dollars, which is 10 times the cost that was approved by voters in in 2008.   The proposed date for completion of the high-speed rail project is not for another 15 years but legal challenges and eminent domain issues are likely to push that completion date out decades farther.

AB 956, also authored by Assemblyman Devon Mathis, would have exempted any state water recycling project from being subject to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), legislation that requires lengthy environmental impact reports to be completed before construction of large projects can begin.   This is not a new idea, by the way, the high-speed rail project mentioned above has been exempted from the CEQA.

AB 311, authored by Assemblyman James Gallagher, would have allowed construction of critical water storage projects to continue while CEQA environmental impact reports were completed.  Seems downright reasonable, doesn’t it.  But this too is not a new idea, last year the California Legislature passed AB 743, a bill similar to Gallagher’s in which the NBA’s Sacramento Kings basketball arena was exempted from CEQA environmental impact reports.

“Democrats today ignored the pleas of farmers, farmworkers, business and labor leaders and ordinary citizens who came to the Capitol to ask lawmakers to expedite new water storage projects,” Assemblyman Gallagher said in a statement.

“It is disappointing that the majority party has no problem granting expedited reviews for football stadiums and sports arenas, yet stands in the way of critical projects for our economy and our quality of life,” Gallagher added.

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