North Coast Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro was one of only two California lawmakers to vote against
putting a $7.5 billion water bond before state voters in November that is being hailed as an historic, bi-partisan plan to rescue the drought-parched state from a future of water uncertainty in an era of climate change.
Specifically, the plan would invest heavily in the state's water infrastructure by building reservoirs, promoting water-saving technologies and cleaning up contaminated ground water. The bill got 114 of 116 votes in the Legislature and nabbed Gov. Jerry Brown's signature almost immediately upon passage. But the bill didn't get Chesbro's support, and today the Arcata Democrat issued a lengthy statement explaining his opposition. The short version: At a time when drought-parched rivers are perilously low on the North Coast, Chesbro wouldn't support a bill that would essentially make it easier for local water to be diverted to population and agricultural centers elsewhere. Chesbro tried to work protections into the legislation, especially for Trinity River flows, but was unsuccessful. Without those in place, he couldn't support the bill.
Read the long version below:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 14, 2014
Chesbro statement: Water bond measure is a bad deal for the North Coast
SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro (D-North Coast) released the following statement today explaining his vote against water bond legislation that the Legislature passed and the governor signed yesterday:
“The water bond passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor yesterday has many attractive elements, but at the end of the day this bond measure is bad news for the North Coast. It includes $2.7 billion for water storage projects – dams and reservoirs – increasing pressure for diversion of more Northern California river water. The Trinity River – and ultimately the Klamath – is at greatest risk, because of existing plumbing that already diverts water from the Trinity to the Sacramento River. Increasing reservoir capacity will lead to greater demand for water from the Trinity at a time when severe and prolonged drought has significantly reduced existing snow packs.
As the drought deepens, the impact to the people and fisheries on the North Coast will increase. The rivers of the North Coast are some of the last remaining refuge for endangered salmon species that are on the brink of extinction. Additionally, our rivers provide important spawning habitat for fish that are important to the entire state, up and down the West Coast.
I had hoped to secure funding for protection of Trinity River flows through legislation this year. When that did not happen I worked to place language in the water bond legislation. I was disappointed it was not included, and that reducing risks to our North Coast rivers and to our way of life, our fish and our economy was not much of a priority in the measure that will be placed on the November ballot. I believe the water bond short-changes the people of the North Coast, and as their representative in the Legislature I felt compelled to vote against it.”