The Northern California Water Association (NCWA) Board of Directors has voted to formally oppose the “No Blank Checks Initiative.” Like several other initiatives that are now circulating, the proponents have over-reached with this initiative that is now qualified for the November 2016 ballot. The initiative, if approved by the voters, would create another avenue for opponents to try to block badly needed water supply infrastructure in California, which potentially could include Sites Reservoir and Temperance Flat. Most troubling, the initiative would require a statewide vote on some local projects funded by local project users and ratepayers–thus empowering voters in distant parts of the state to block local decision-making and control.
The past four dry years has revealed the importance of smart water infrastructure in California to help the state through challenging dry periods. This includes water projects that benefit cities and rural communities, farms, birds, fish and recreation. Rather than adding another layer of requirements for various infrastructure projects—in this case an expensive statewide vote–the state should instead be providing tools to advance and streamline the process for water infrastructure, particularly projects that provide public benefits.
The NCWA position is in no way based on the Delta tunnels targeted by the initiative, instead focusing on the larger impact the initiative could have on water infrastructure such as Sites Reservoir. We are also concerned with the statewide policy to require voter approval for locally or regionally funded projects of all types.