California Needs Water Infrastructure: Vote No on Proposition 53

Tuesday, Nov 1st, 2016


With the election coming up next week, people are preparing their ballots and typically have questions about the various measures on the ballot. This includes Proposition 53–the only measure that involves water this year. The Northern California Water Association (NCWA) Board of Directors formally opposes Proposition 53: the “No Blank Checks Initiative” and recommends people vote “no” on this measure.

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 any other large water infrastructure. 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. When this measure qualified last spring, we wrote an op-ed in the Sacramento Bee that is available at: Bad ballot measure would block local water projects. 

The past four dry years have 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.

Sites, California

The NCWA Board position is not 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 establishment of a new statewide policy to require voter approval for locally or regionally funded projects of all types.

In addition to NCWA, nearly every major organization in California has opposed this measure and every major editorial board has recommended voting no on this measure. The opposition includes agricultural organizations, cities and counties, every water agency in California, and the Governor. For more information on this coalition opposing Proposition 53, please see: or you can call us at 916.442.8333.

Thank you for voting.


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