NEC Opposes Water Grab Proposition – Vote No on Proposition 3

Water drop photo by Joao Paulo Martins, Flickr CC
Joao Paulo Martins, Flickr CC

For Immediate Release:  NEC Opposes Water Grab Proposition – Vote No on Proposition 3

October 31, 2018 –The Northcoast Environmental Center (NEC) opposes Proposition 3 on this year’s November 5 ballot. We suggest you read this opinion piece by Eric Kirk, which was published on Redheaded Blackbelt. (

The following excerpt outlines reasons for No on Proposition 3:

Proposition 3 – yet another bond measure for water – No

 This is a bond measure which was unfortunately cooked up behind closed doors by a coalition of lobbyists who ensured that the bulk of the money goes to very specific projects in what was basically a “pay to play” process.  The almond industry was heavily represented.  The Sierra Club is opposed.

California would sell about 9 billion in bonds for a long list of water related projects – all of which are needed.  Yes, we just passed one in June.  And we’ve passed a bunch of them – almost reminiscent of the never-ending prison bonds we passed in the 80s and 90s when the voting public was more reactionary.  But that’s the new reality.  We will probably have to pass a bunch more as climate continues to change, population here continues to grow, and as long as we continue to indulge water-intensive crops like rice, alfalfa, and almonds.  It’s the new reality, and even with these bond measures we are probably going to experience water crisis for the foreseeable future.

Unfortunately, the opposition ballot statement was submitted by tax posse types who want more dams.  Proposition 3 is supported by conservative environmental groups like the California Wildlife Federation and Ducks Unlimited (hunting organizations – they do some good, but they have very specific agendas and earmarked Prop 3 projects support these jurisdictions).  The projects are concentrated in the Central Valley and it takes money from the Cap and Trade revenues for these limited purposes.

On the positive side, about a fourth of the money would be allocated for watershed restoration, and this is where the opposition, which doesn’t understand the science, misses the point when it says that the measure won’t add a drop of water.  Restoration would involve prevention of “sheeting” which happens after decades of clearcutting where the soil hardens at the surface for lack of trees and the water runs into the river and straight to the ocean instead of the “sponge effect” with the presence of trees in which the water is held and released more slowly throughout the year.  It would also help restore habitat and forest health to lessen risk and intensity of forest fires.

There are about 50 categories of grants with geographic specificity.  The Proposition was not generated in transparency.  It bypasses spending oversight processes.  It all but eliminates the “beneficiary pays” principle.  And very little of the money would be spent in coastal regions or the mountains – fixated on agricultural and other special interests.

Another 2 billion goes to conservation, rainwater retrieval, water recycling, etc.  It would include assistance with installation of low flow toilets and replacement of lawns with more water saving landscaping.  And there would be money for habitat restoration (particularly fish in the central valley), infrastructure upgrade (including the Oroville Dam, which almost came apart a few years ago), groundwater protection, and flood protection.  Yes, it probably tries to do too much, but it’s all necessary.

Yes, it would add to the bonded debt, and we just went to the well in June, but honestly if the provisions were more balanced and not so invested in the benefit of Central Valley special interests, I could get behind it.  I can’t.