The Morning Report
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The benefits to San Diego of the water deal that state legislators struck today — five bills most prominently included an $11.1 billion bond package headed to voters for approval next year — can’t necessarily be measured in dollars, the San Diego County Water Authority says. At least not yet.
San Diego stands to receive at least $227 million for water projects if voters approve the major bond package next November. The largest chunk, $100 million, would help pay for the dam raise underway at the San Vicente Reservoir, the authority’s $568 million project to more than double storage capacity.
Dennis Cushman, the authority’s assistant general manager, said the money — if approved — would help offset rate increases likely from other parts of the measure.
One of the bond’s biggest beneficiaries locally would be the San Diego River Conservancy, which works to restore the river stretching from Ocean Beach to Julian. The bond package would provide it a $20 million grant. Another $107 million would be directed to as-yet unspecified supply projects in the region.
Cushman said the region would ultimately reap a greater benefit than the $227 million earmarked for San Diego when it competes for the billions in grants included in the bond package. “The ultimate dollar amount (to San Diego) is not going to be known for many years,” he said.
The legislation will also require San Diego and other cities statewide to reduce consumption by 20 percent. They’ll be given credit for conservation efforts to date.
The legislation’s largest push is to address the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, a major source of San Diego’s water. Its ecosystem has suffered in recent years as more water has been sucked out and pumped south. The bills approved today would create a governing body to oversee the delta and decide on major projects that could move water around the delta instead of through it. The bond package would also send billions to the delta.
Mayor Jerry Sanders heralded the legislation in a midday press conference. “This is one of the most significant pieces of legislation we’ve seen in a long time,” he said.