Jerry Brown pushes water bond, makes no promises about Salton Sea

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California Gov. Jerry Brown campaigns for Proposition 1 on Wednesday in San Diego; he did not mention his own reelection bid. (Tony Perry)

Jerry Brown visits San Diego to promote Proposition 1, California’s $7.5-billion water bond

By TONY PERRY
SAN DIEGO – Backed by politicians from both parties, California Gov. Jerry Brown brought his whirlwind campaign to San Diego on Wednesday to urge passage of Proposition 1, the $7.5-billion water bond.

Brown made no mention of the fact he is seeking reelection on the same ballot.

At a news conference outside the San Diego County Water Authority, the Democratic governor noted that many of the things in the water bond are “ideas that have been around for decades” but have been delayed by various kinds of political strife.

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Nothing is more fundamental than water. We have to pull together and use our technology and wealth.
– Gov. Jerry Brown

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Now, with the state parched by drought, water warriors from various camps have set aside old rivalries to urge passage of Proposition 1 to provide greater storage and enhanced treatment of contaminated ground water, among other projects.

“Nothing is more fundamental than water,” Brown said. “We have to pull together and use our technology and wealth.”

But on one of the state’s more dire water issues — the environmental threat posed by a shrinking Salton Sea — Brown was careful not to make any promises.

Various plans to “save” the sea, which straddles Riverside and Imperial counties, run into the billions of dollars, Brown noted.

“I’d certainly like to find a way to do better to the Salton Sea than we have,” Brown said in response to a question.

But Salton Sea projects will have to compete with other water projects, he said. “I think we’ll leave the Salton Sea as a question to be asked and answered” after Proposition 1 passes, he said.

Local officials, however, said they are confident that projects to help the sea — and prevent the massive dust storms predicted if the sea continues to shrink — stand a good chance at getting some of the several hundred million dollars set aside for environmental projects.

“I think we can make the Salton Sea into a reservoir instead of a sump,” said state Sen. Ben Hueso (D-San Diego).

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, a Republican, said that Proposition 1 and Proposition 2 — which sets aside money for budget shortfalls — “are essential for California.”
Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) said the group favoring the water bond — including officials from business and labor groups, and rural and urban areas — “is about as broad a coalition” as she has seen in politics.