On Tuesday, the Senate Natural Resources and Water committee voted to pass AB 2775 (Huffman and Cogdill), a bill that tacitly acknowledges one of the fatal flaws of the $11.14 billion water bond that will go before voters this November. The bill strikes a provision in the water bond that would allow private companies to own the costly infrastructure, like dams, that could be funded by the bond. According to Assembly Member Huffman, the privatization provision “didn’t get carefully reviewed or considered” when the bond was written.
While the intent is sound, the bill falls short of its goal – under existing law, private mutual water companies, controlled by corporate interests can form joint powers authorities with government agencies, allowing them to control and profit from costly water infrastructure built with taxpayers’ dollars. Unfortunately, the new bill does not address this existing law, leaving the door open for private corporations to take advantage of public spending on water infrastructure if this bond passes.
Recent media attention has emphasized the risks of allowing California’s water supply to be privatized. According to an April article focusing on Los Angeles billionaires Stewart and Lynda Resnick, “a new lawsuit claiming the Resnicks violated utilities law by making money from a vast, taxpayer-funded underground reservoir is causing a stir in the state Capitol.”