Budget Problems: The Elephant in the Room

Teachers, firefighters and police officers know what the economy is doing to the vital services they provide. Our most vulnerable aged and disabled are literally feeling the pain of budget cuts; and everyday citizens are tightening their belts by multiple notches at a time.

However, the water establishment is acting like it is immune to federal, State and local budget retractions. Somehow despite the Congressional push for deficit reduction, the State electorate’s distaste for more bond borrowing, and local revenue constraints in the forms of Proposition 219, Proposition 26, and growing ratepayer discomfort, are not getting through.

Bureaucrats from many of the largest water interests continue to propose tens of billions of dollars of spending from myriad of funding sources including, the federal treasury, State borrowing and increased water rates to pay for new facilities and related costs. 

Whether or not you agree with any of the specific projects being proposed, first you have to ask, what we can afford and what the highest priorities are for the next 5 to 10 years.  

A year ago PCL published “8 Affordable Water Solutions for California.” The publication identifies three key factors driving California water management: the financial crisis, the fisheries collapse and changing hydrology.  Followed by, identifying eight near-term solutions California can afford. Significant progress has been made on three of them. These need to be completed and the remaining five need to tee up as funding allows.