DesertSun.com: With California battling a severe drought, state, local and federal officials have been striving to find new ways to preserve water.
The Desert Sun asked the 11 local candidates who are seeking state office for their thoughts on pressing water-related issues. Candidates were given 50 words per answer.
Desert Sun: This November’s ballot is supposed to include an $11 billion water bond, but many say the details of it need to be revised. Do you support the bond as it stands, or do you think state lawmakers should take another look at the bond? Do you have concerns with the price tag associated with the bond?
• Karalee Hargrove, Democrat from Twentynine Palms running for 42nd Assembly: This 2009 written proposition is obsolete and wasteful. Lobbying kept unnecessary padding that makes it so expensive. Rework the legislation, immediately. Get a needs specific proposition to the voters. Water management needs science, not gamesmanship. SB 848 is a better plan that needs support, not more lobbying for pork.
• Gary Jeandron, Republican from Palm Springs running for 42nd Assembly: Lawmakers must look again at the bond and remove many of the peripheral items used to secure various lawmakers’ votes when it was passed in 2009. These do little to modernize our infrastructure but inflate the bond’s cost. Any bond must primarily focus on improving conveyance reliability and increasing storage.
• Chad Mayes, Republican from Yucca Valley running for 42nd Assembly: I do have concerns about the large price of this bond, but for decades we have neglected our state’s water system. Something must be done. I support a solution that would provide competitive funding for critical water storage, groundwater, Delta restoration, water quality, and drought relief projects statewide.
The Salton Sea has been slowly dying for decades. But the state’s plan to address its demise has been sitting on a shelf for years. What does the Legislature need to do before 2017, when the water transfer starts?
• Hargrove: The state should let local experts lead by authorizing the Imperial Irrigation District Salton Sea Initiative. Local stakeholders’ have resolve. The state should create the IID proposed energy zone, establish protected wildlife habitats, and reduce water transfers to San Diego if Salton Sea surface area is inadequate.
• Jeandron: With less than three years to act, leadership must be shown now. I will not support another study that is wasting taxpayer money. The Salton Sea’s potential demise will be resolved with a private/public partnership allowing creative, innovative people to work to implement solutions.
• Mayes: Regional legislators have attempted to provide the leadership to get something done but with ongoing state budget struggles progress has stopped. The issues surrounding the Salton Sea are complex and they compete with spending priorities of urban legislators. Any solution must be controlled by the Coachella Valley and Imperial County.
Gov. Jerry Brown in January formally declared a statewide drought. Should the state impose mandatory conservation goals for local water districts?
• Hargrove: Voluntary conservation needs a tiered pricing structure to motivate consumers. The State cannot manage thousands of water districts. Water districts should pay penalties when exceeding conservation goals. Expensive, above baseline rates, paid by wasteful customers should cover the fines and then go to water bond repayment.
• Jeandron: The state should refrain from mandatory conservation because each local water district faces unique circumstances. Californians are responsible and have already taken steps to voluntarily reduce water consumption statewide. Local water districts facing imminent shortfalls can utilize mandatory cutbacks.
• Mayes: The answer lies in a comprehensive solution and cannot rely on one set of criteria or goals. We need a solution that ensures our storage needs are met and critical groundwater storage solutions are implemented. And, as always, we need to look at some form of conservation goals.
U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer has proposed federal legislation to give a tax credit for urban and agricultural water-efficiency systems. Do you agree with the idea? And what, if anything, should California do to promote more efficient use of resources?
• Hargrove: Boxer’s proposal is reasonable. Agriculture consumes most of California’s water. Consumption taxes get results. Dedicate these taxes to research and development of replacement resources. …If qualified private investment searches for new resource replacement, then tax credits are warranted.
• Jeandron: I strongly agree with a tax credit approach to provide additional incentives for water efficiency. Water is a finite resource. Meeting our future water needs will also require increasing water recycling, which has proven in many cases to be more cost effective than securing new water.
• Mayes: I am not fluent on Boxer’s legislation but incentives are an option to modify behavior. I’ll watch the water bond that emerges from Sacramento to see if it addresses the needs of storage and restoration or if it (means) a political victory for the environmental extremists who prevent progress.
How do you personally conserve water at home or at work?
• Hargrove: We stopped watering the sod we installed a few years ago. … The yard will be allowed to revert to a state that is consistent with a desert environment. We follow the water district conservation guidelines.
• Jeandron: The vast majority of our water supply is used outside; my home is desert landscape using drought-resistant plants. I have also been increasingly vigilant about turning off the water while shaving, brushing my teeth and washing dishes.
• Mayes: I’m keenly aware of the need to conserve water. At our home, Shanon and I landscape with drought-tolerant plants and a drip system. We installed low-flow toilets and showerheads, use a water-saving front-load washing machine.
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