Letters to the Editor

A yes on Proposition 3 will support local water districts, wildfire prevention,

Water has always been a hot topic in California. Over the past few years though, the subject has become overwhelming, particularly in the Sierra, with everything from drought to extreme flooding in some parts of the region, the failure of the Oroville Dam spillway, water quality issues in Sierra Brooks, out-of-compliance systems in Plumas County, and water rate increases in Loyalton. There is a clear need for more investment in water solutions that work, both for watershed restoration and man-made infrastructure.

Luckily, voters in Sierra County and Plumas County, along with the rest of California, have an unprecedented opportunity to invest in our local communities in the form of Proposition 3, a statewide water bond on the November 6 ballot with specific funding earmarked for the Sierra Nevada region.

The last five years have revealed the new normal for the Sierra – devastating wildfires, prolonged drought, rain on snow storms, and record summer heat signal that the time is now to invest in our region's ability to withstand these events. If we don't empower ourselves now, we'll pay dearly later.

Fire plays a huge role in our communities, and as Sacramento politicians slowly figure out the best methods for funding and managing our forests, Proposition 3 would provide a direct and immediate investment of $250 million for pre-fire mitigation, drought protection and restoration of our watersheds, yielding the dual benefits of an improved water supply and safer communities from the threat of fire.

Every acre of forest restored enables local jobs and other economic opportunities related to forest wood products, like biomass and wood businesses in Loyalton. This funding would be managed through grant programs from a local agency, the Sierra Nevada Conservancy – ensuring this badly needed investment will go to local projects rather than urban politicians' pet projects.

Proposition 3 includes additional funding areas including safe drinking water, wastewater recycling, infrastructure repairs for the Oroville Dam and other broken water systems, and water efficiency improvements, which the City of Loyalton and the Sierra Brooks Water System could apply for. At least $31 million would be available for California Farmland Conservation grants. Plumas Audubon Society and other wildlife enthusiasts across the region will be excited to hear about the funding included for fisheries and wildlife, and grant funds are also available for conservation and RCDs like the Sierra Valley Resource Conservation District, who has already endorsed Proposition 3.

In addition, groundwater sustainability agencies like the Sierra Valley Groundwater Management District could apply for the more than $600 million that is allocated for groundwater management, while Plumas, Sierra, and local incorporated towns could apply for some of the billions of other water-related investments. More information on the bond's funding allocations is available at www.waterbond.org.

Proposition 3 makes sense for rural communities, which is why many Sierra water agencies, business groups, and conservation organizations support the measure, including the Yuba County Water Agency, the Sierra Fund, the Sierra Nevada Alliance, CalTrout, the Sierra County Land Trust, Sierra Business Council, and many others.

With supporters from both sides of the aisle, it is not a divisive partisan issue. Proposition 3 is also supported by the Rural County Representatives of California, Mountain Counties Water Resources Association, Mono County, Alpine County, Plumas County, County Supervisors Association of California, California Chamber of Commerce, and California Farm Bureau Federation.

Bonds are debt instruments and should not be used lightly, but Proposition 3 is needed by our local communities. Our state's credit rating has recovered from the 2008 recession and our state is using only a small percentage of its taxes to pay off bond debt. Proposition 3 would leverage funding directly to Sierra communities in a manner that has not been done previously, improving our communities' resilience and safety, as well as providing new jobs.

Proposition 3 is supported by groups across the political spectrum because water is important to all of us; Proposition 3 has the potential to improve water supplies and fire safety for our rural communities, farmers, and the environment. Sierra and Plumas voters should strongly consider these benefits come November 6.

Sierra Business Council (SBC) pioneers and demonstrates innovative approaches to increase community vitality, economic prosperity, environmental quality, and social fairness in the Sierra Nevada. More information on SBC's impact can be found at www.sierrabusiness.org.

Submitted: 09/25/18
Article By: Sierra Booster