Water Bond could bring $350 million to the Sierra Nevada | SierraSun.com

Water Bond could bring $350 million to the Sierra Nevada

Hannah Jones

On November’s ballot California voters will decide on an $8.877 billion bond that would go toward water infrastructure and environmental projects, a portion of which would be aimed at conservation projects in the Tahoe area.

“These are really important investments into the Sierra Nevada,” said Steve Frisch, President of the Sierra Nevada Business Council, which has publicly endorsed the proposition.

If approved the bond would direct $350 million to the Sierra Nevada through the Sierra Nevada Conservancy and the Tahoe Conservancy, nearly four times the amount in Prop 84, a 2006 water bond.

“It blends investments in landscape restoration and fire mitigation with clean water, groundwater management,” said Frisch. “Prop 3 is much more focused on (the) state’s long-term water infrastructure needs.”

Overall, $2.355 billion will go toward conservancies and state parks to restore watersheds as well as nonprofits and local agencies for river parkways. $640 million will go toward groundwater sustainability agencies and $500 million for improvements on the state’s public water system to meet safe drinking water requirements. The initiative requires $1.398 billion to be spent on projects benefiting disadvantaged communities and an additional $2.637 billion be prioritized for such communities.

“This is a critical business issue,” said Frisch. “The California economy is dependent on freshwater and 60 percent of water supply comes from Sierra Nevada.”

In June, 56 percent of voters approved Proposition 68 authorizing the state to borrow $4.1 billion for investments in water conservation projects, land conservation and outdoor recreation.

With more than 60 percent of California’s water supply flowing from the Sierra Nevada, $27 million from Prop 68 was designated for the California Tahoe Conservancy which heads conservation and restoration projects in the Tahoe Basin.

In 2014, California Proposition 1 was approved, authorizing $7.12 billion in general obligation bonds for water supply infrastructure projects. Of that the conservancy received $15 million which was used for watershed and sustainability projects.

Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or hjones@sierasun.com.

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