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Bridging Troubled Water: Yes or No on California Prop 1?

Litigation Los AngelesEnvironmental Litigation  

Stephen T. Holzer


Fall is here. Most of us can't tell, given the soaring temperatures outside. A better thermometer might be the onslaught of political commercials we're now seeing on television.

California Elections 2014

To prepare for the elections in November, we thought now would be a good time to take a look at the new propositions and bills Californians will have to decide on in the voting booth November 4th. First up:  Proposition 1 (Assembly Bill 1471), to enact the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014.

Governor Jerry Brown approved the measure August 13, but it's up to the voters to decide if this will go any further.

Proposition 1 aims to: 

  1. Improve water reliability and management: $810M,

  2. Provide safer drinking water: $520M,

  3. Initiate and improve water recycling projects: $725M,

  4. Ensure safer groundwater: $900M,

  5. Protect and restore the state's watershed: $1.495B,

  6. Store more water: $2.7B, and

  7. Improve and initiate flood management projects: $395M

As with most ballot measures, there are both opposition and support groups for Prop 1. Unlike most ballot measures, the battle lines aren't drawn by party lines.

The opposition argues that: 

  1. Environmental Business Litigation AttorneyOnly special interest groups, i.e. farmers and certain industrialists, will benefit though all Californians will foot the bill.

  2. The bills projects are geared to repairing the damage caused by previous water improvement projects initiated by the same special interest groups noted above.

  3. The cost is too high, considering California is already $777B in debt.

  4. Enacting this plan does nothing to cure our immediate, drought-driven needs for more water.

Supporters disagree of course, claiming that: 

  1. Long-term projects will help Californians capitalize on "wet" years to store more water for the drier years.

  2. Some funds in the bill are allocated to cleaning up much-needed contaminated drinking water.

  3. The special interest groups cited by the opposition (particularly the agriculturalists) are critical to California's economy.

  4. The bill would not substantially increase state debt – some of the needed funding will be reallocated from unused bonds.

So which groups support Proposition 1, and which do not? There's a mixed bag on each side.

Prop 1 supporters include Governor Brown, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, both the California Democratic and Republican parties, the state and Los Angeles Chambers of Commerce, and environmental groups like The Nature Conservancy, Audubon California and Delta Counties Coalition.

Prop 1 opponents include environmental groups like Friends of the River, Restore the Delta and various fishing associations.


Stephen T. Holzer is an Environmental and Business Litigation Attorney. Contact him via email:, or by phone: 818.907.3299.


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