FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 21, 2022
Direct inquiries to press@MoreWaterNow.com, or call 279-345-9934
Today the More Water Now campaign, formed to qualify The Water Infrastructure Funding Act of 2022 for the November state ballot, is now ten days away from being pulled from circulation due to inadequate financial support.
With the possible exception of the historic Prop. 13, which back in 1978 was qualified for the state ballot by an army of volunteers, initiatives in California must employ paid signature gatherers. This costs millions of dollars. If the campaign cannot secure sufficient contributions and pledges by February 1, it will have no choice but to end the campaign.
It is important to not only inform potential donors of this soon to expire opportunity, but also out of respect for the hundreds of volunteers who have already gathered thousands of signatures. There will be another fight, and if this round cannot be won, our volunteers deserve to hear the truth so they can save their energy for next time.
The stark reality confronting the campaign is that by February 1, there will only be 87 days left to collect, verify, and turn in signed petitions before the April 29 deadline. That means that every day, starting on February 1, the campaign would have to gather nearly 12,000 valid petitions. This daily volume stretches the capacity of statewide professional signature gathering firms to the utmost limit. Anything beyond this is impossible.
If this campaign fails to qualify for the November 2022 ballot, there will be plenty of time to evaluate why we couldn’t attract donors with the capacity to fund signature gathering. But before the clock runs out, we must highlight a fundamental choice facing Californians: Do they want to live in a state where water is rationed, forever, or a state where innovation and smart public investment creates water abundance?
It is likely that most Californians still don’t realize what it will be like to live with severe water rationing. The impact will reach far beyond farming communities, where hundreds of thousands of farmworkers are about to be unemployed. The inability to grow water intensive crops will mean fresh produce and dairy products will have to be imported from other states and nations, costing consumers much more at the grocery store. And since new housing requires a reliable water supply, fewer homes will be built, keeping housing prices unaffordable. Any businesses that use water to provide a product or service will face higher costs, not only for their water, but for their labor, since with a higher cost-of-living, workers will have to be paid more.
A stupendous irony here is that the economic cost of water rationing exceeds the economic cost of state subsidized water infrastructure. The cost to provide government assistance to unemployed farmworkers, and to people priced out of housing and unable to afford their utility bills. The cost to install two meters on California’s nearly ten million lots with either single-family or multi-family dwellings, one for indoor use, one for outdoor landscaping. The cost to purchase appliances that use less water, but don’t work very well. And why should anyone have to submit to rationing of indoor water use, when indoor water can be collected, treated, and pumped back into the system to be used repeatedly?
The Water Infrastructure Funding Act solves water scarcity, by allocating two percent of the state’s general fund to pay for wastewater recycling, runoff capture, aquifer recharge, offstream reservoirs, ocean and brackish water desalination, and water conservation programs. It leaves the choice of projects to approve up to the California Water Commission, only stipulating that funding does not expire until new projects produce another five million acre feet per year.
The goal of abundance informed the design of this initiative effort. Water rationing is not inevitable, even in semi-arid California. It is possible to redesign California’s water system for the 21st century, embracing new technologies such as wastewater recycling and runoff capture, in order to give California’s residents a quality of life befitting the wealthiest, most innovative place in the world.
It is not too late. But time is running out.
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