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What is Storage?

The voters passed what is called a Water Bond, but the Commission says "we're not paying for water"?

Jan 22, 2018

When California voters approved the 2014 Prop 1 Water Bond they though they had approved a chunk of money for storage.  Most of us think of storage as dams and reservoirs.  But, that isn't what the California Water Commission thinks.  According to Chris Orrock, a spokesman for the Commission, "“We’re not paying for water. We’re paying for public benefits.  As defined in Prop 1, water is not one of those benefits that we are funding. We’ve been very clear at every step."  What?  The voters passed what is called a Water Bond, but the Commission says "we're not paying for water"?  "We're paying for public benefits"?  Why didn't they call it a 'public benefits' bond?  
 
Why did the public think there would be dams and reservoirs?  Because news organizations like The L.A. Daily News wrote, "philosophically, the differences between the parties boil down to Republicans being in favor of increasing storage facilities, which mostly means spending on dams that create reservoirs, and Democrats liking more efficient delivery, conservation and recycling."  That was the thinking then, that storage meant dams.  But, that's not the case now. 
 
The San Jose Mercury News reports that none of the storage proposals with dams "provide the public benefits that their supporters claim, potentially putting their state funding at risk."  They go on to accurately report "state voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 1, a $7.5 billion bond measure to pay for new water projects, including building more dams and reservoirs."  We think voters had good reason to believe dams and reservoirs would be approved as part of the proposition spending. 
 
State Senator Jim Nielson said "the public should be concerned. They voted for large new dams and reservoirs.  I think this is an effort to undermine the intent of the voters."  But Democrats in the legislature who put it on the ballot "insisted that none of the measure’s money for dams could pay for increased water storage, only other benefits, particularly environmental ones." 
 

We know the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has always said there were no dams in the bond, but water agencies and others were still working on projects like Temperance Flat with hopes of getting state funding. 

 
So a bond with water storage as its main feature does not define water as a public benefit.  Storage was just a word game to get voters to approve environmental projects.  Storage does not apparently mean what we think it means.  The article below should be read by all those who are hoping for a reservoir to be built.

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