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Viewpoints: Prop. 1 is a bad deal that will burden taxpayers

Proposition 1 – the state water bond – is a bad investment for California and, including interest on the bonds, a $14 billion burden to taxpayers.

It does not mitigate the effects of drought, and does nothing to establish long-term water self-sufficiency. It drives California further into debt and takes needed funds away from education, public safety, health care, parks and other priorities.

Proposition 1 will not solve our water problems. It will divert more water from our rivers and streams, increase our statewide water supply by a paltry 1 percent, reduce water quality and harm our environment.

It will finance dam projects that will not solve our water problem, but will benefit wealthy agriculture corporations that want more access to California’s water and more flexibility to tap into the water supplies of other regions.

Also, Proposition 1 burdens taxpayers with debt to build projects for billion-dollar farming conglomerates. It includes the largest appropriation for new dams in California’s history. The bond’s biggest beneficiaries – corporate farmers – refuse to fund the dam projects. The measure will drive California and its taxpayers even further into debt for illusory and largely bogus “environmental benefits.” The hidden intent of the proposition is to shift the financial burden from those who directly benefit from building new dams to the taxpayers.

Proposition 1 fails to protect the Bay-Delta estuary and the state’s rivers. It supports the status quo of overpumping the Delta at the expense of salmon, crab and other coastal commercial fisheries. Bay Area fishermen’s associations oppose Proposition 1.

It opens up backdoor funding for water to fill the governor’s planned Delta tunnels, the latest incarnation of the defeated peripheral canal, with water from Northern California’s watersheds. Scientists agree that we already export too much fresh water from the Delta, to the detriment of native fish, water quality, farms and recreation. To truly restore this important estuary, water exported from the Delta has to be reduced to a sustainable amount.

The dam construction called for in Proposition 1 – the raising of Shasta Dam and building the new Sites reservoir – would starve the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, the Delta and San Francisco Bay of the water flows they need. This will drive our salmon populations and other native fish further towards extinction, and harm the sport and commercial fishing industries. Five times more California water has been promised for deliveries than exists in any normal year.

Also, Proposition 1 funds more habitat projects in the Delta that have not improved fisheries. The numerous habitat projects built over the last 20 years have created warm conditions favorable to invasive species, as well as methyl mercury sinkholes, due to inadequate fresh water flows. Proposition 1 would have taxpayers, rather than water-takers, pay for the damage overpumping for export has inflicted on the Delta.

Vote “no” on Proposition 1. Demand a water bond that invests in the sustainable solutions we need, not deadbeat dams.