The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Adam Scow: (415) 293-9915

Poll Shows Voters Ready to Flush $11 Billion Water Bond in November


A majority of California voters oppose the $11.1 billion water bond
that the Legislature and the Governor have placed on the November
ballot, according to a recent statewide poll conducted by Tulchin

Just one-third of likely voters (34%) support the water bond
currently, while more than a majority of likely voters (55%) oppose it.
That's a very weak start for a bond measure, and some of the existing
support is likely to drop off as a campaign against the bond ramps up
later this year, in the view of opponents of the bond, who released the survey results today.

"Voters recognize this bond as bad water policy and bad fiscal
policy at a time when California is drowning in red ink," said Jim
Metropulos, Senior Advocate with Sierra Club California, part of the
campaign opposing the bond measure. "We need clean water and we need a
better water policy, but this bond is not going to get us there."

Pollster Ben Tulchin, who conducted the survey, called the results daunting.

"The challenge for backers of this bond is monumental," said
Tulchin. "No statewide bond measure has ever won when a majority of
voters opposed it at the outset."

Support was weak in the poll, even among those voting yes, with just
12% saying they would "definitely" vote yes and 4% saying they merely
"leaned" in favor. In contrast, there was greater intensity on the "no"
side, with a third of all voters polled (32%) saying they would
"definitely" vote no.

"This bond hands out billions of dollars to corporations and other
special interests at the expense of California taxpayers," said Adam
Scow, California Campaigns Director with consumer rights group Food
& Water Watch. "It's no surprise that support for the bond is
already weak. We expect voters to reject it in November."

A number of prominent environmental, consumer, and environmental
justice organizations have already joined the campaign opposing the
bond, including the Sierra Club, Clean Water Action, Planning and
Conservation League, Friends of the River, Food & Water Watch, the
Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, the Winnemem Wintu tribe,
California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, California Water Impact
Network (C-WIN), Southern California Watershed Alliance, and Restore
the Delta.

"We are encouraged to see that voters across California share our
view that this bond is a bad deal for taxpayers," said Tina Andolina,
Legislative Director for the Planning and Conservation League.

Andolina noted that cross-tabulated results from the poll show
opposition across party and geographic lines. "No demographic group
anywhere in the state offers majority support for the bond," said
Andolina. "Voters of all parties oppose it, as do voters in the
northern and southern parts of the state and the Central Valley."

Opponents note that the bond does not provide immediate funding to
municipalities or conservation efforts. Low-income communities, many of
which live with contaminated drinking water, would receive only a tiny
fraction of total bond funds.

In contrast, up to $4 billion of taxpayers' investment could be used
to subsidize large corporate interests, including agribusinesses, that
will profit from the projects. $3 billion can be used to construct new
dams, and as much as $1 billion can subsidize costly private
desalination projects.

Campaign members point out that money to finance the bond will come
out of California's general fund, which also funds education,
healthcare, police and fire, and other essential services. The hit on
the general fund would be enormous, as much as $800 million per year.
Total debt repayment on the bond is expected to top $22 billion over 30

"Instead of building projects we don't need, we should be fixing
local drinking water systems and taking other steps to ensure a safe,
reliable water supply for California," said Scow of Food & Water
Watch. "Voters are already signaling that they know this bond is the
wrong approach at the wrong time."

Food & Water Watch mobilizes regular people to build political power to move bold and uncompromised solutions to the most pressing food, water, and climate problems of our time. We work to protect people's health, communities, and democracy from the growing destructive power of the most powerful economic interests.

(202) 683-2500