California water plan proposes spending $7.5 billion

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KABC) -- The fate of a $7.5 billion proposal to change the way California stores and uses water is now in the hands of voters, after Gov. Jerry Brown signed off on the measure Thursday.

The plan, one of the largest infrastructure projects in decades, calls for the state to take out a bond to pay for water projects, such as building new dams and reservoirs and storing water. Money would also be set aside to clean groundwater and promote water-saving technologies

"The DWP (Los Angeles Department of Water and Power) is really happy with this bond. This was really a home run for Los Angeles," said Jim McDaniel, senior assistant general manager for the LADWP's water system division.

He added, "Any water that we can produce locally in Southern California is a drop of water we don't have to import from someplace else. This will help the entire state by taking pressure off the threatened delta ecosystem and also the overtaxed Colorado River."

State lawmakers passed the new bond with support from both parties.

"Yes, it will cost more, but unless we get started now, we are going to be missing a lot of opportunities to be capturing rainwater that is currently going out to the ocean," said State Sen. Bob Huff, R-Brea.

But some worried about adding more debt. As of July 1, the state already owes $87 billion in bond debt, which costs $6 billion a year.

Assemblymember Tim Donnelly, R-Hesperia, voted against the new bond proposal.

"There's a hidden cost that most Californians aren't even aware of when we borrow money as opposed to cut it from somewhere else," Donnelly said.

The measure, which will go to the voters in November, overwhelmingly passed both houses of the Legislature: 77-2 in the Assembly and 37-0 in the Senate.

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