Orange County Branch Newsletter

September 2014

Sustainability Committee

Proposition 1 Water Bond for California and Orange County

By:  Mark Norton, P.E., ASCE Region 9 Governor

On August 13th, AB 1471 was passed with near unanimous support replacing the previous 2009 Water Bond which could never quite make it to the ballot. This legislation signed by Governor Jerry Brown, creates a new water called Proposition 1 Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 and will show up on the Nov. 4, 2014 election ballot. Proposition 1 Water Bond, if passed by the voters, provides statewide funding, $7.545 billion, for following areas:

  • $520 million to improve water quality for “beneficial use,” for reducing and preventing drinking water contaminants, disadvantaged communities, and the State Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund Small Community Grant Fund.
  • $1.495 billion for competitive grants for multi-benefit ecosystem and watershed protection and restoration projects.
  • $810 million for expenditures on, and competitive grants and loans to, integrated regional water management plan projects.
  • $2.7 billion for water storage projects, dams and reservoirs.
  • $725 million for water recycling and advanced water treatment technology projects.
  • $900 million for competitive grants, and loans for, projects to prevent or clean up the contamination of groundwater that serves as a source of drinking water.
  • $395 million for statewide flood management projects and activities.

Of particular interest to Orange County public and private civil engineers is whether the bond provides direct funding to Orange County. Based on specific provisions in the bond, the answer is yes, with specific set asides for Orange County and the local watershed. For example, $52.5 million has been defined and will be directed to the San Diego Integrated Regional Water Management (IWRM) Region (IRWM). South Orange County is covered in this area and by agreement will receive 9.16% of this funding, or $6.75 million. $63 million is directed to the Santa Ana Region with over one third of the region covering northern Orange County. Further, $100 million is directed to conservancies across the State with funding called out to support trails and ecosystem restoration in the Santa Ana River Watershed, again covering much of the northern portion of Orange County. 

As civil engineers in California, we have long served as the voice of infrastructure throughout the State and Nation bringing attention to an issue, often lost on the populace, that our quality of life,  environmental integrity, and long term economic well being is so very dependent on infrastructure and water infrastructure in this case. As indicated in the 2012 ASCE California  Infrastructure Report Card, the grade of a “C” for the State’s water infrastructure is fading, having dropped from a “C+” grade in 2006.  The report card states that significant investments are still needed to address renewal and replacement, maintenance, security and reliability for the state’s water infrastructure. The attention to infrastructure is not lost on cities across the State either with a recent report from the California League of Cities observing that the state’s “infrastructure is rapidly deteriorating. Quite simply, California is crumbling.”

Proposition 1 Water Bond will go a long way to help civil engineers across the State and Orange County to move forward with much needed infrastructure improvements particularly in light of the continuing statewide drought conditions. Please join me, along with the ASCE Region 9 Board of Governors in supporting this new water bond and vote “Yes” at the ballot box on Nov. 4th.

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