California State District 5 Assemblyman Frank Bigelow spoke at last night’s town hall meeting in Yosemite Lake Park, hosted by Madera County Board Chairman and District 5 Supervisor Tom Wheeler.
Bigelow addressed what is on everyone’s mind these days — another year of drought conditions, saying that he and Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway of Tulare have introduced a new bill (AB 2043) aimed at tackling drought and water issues.
He said there are billion-dollar water bonds sitting out there that have never gone before state voters for consideration and support.
“These bonds have too many bells and whistles, which is typical, with monies that don’t go to water at all, but go to studies ...,” Bigelow said. “But our bond is different — it includes $3 billion for water storage (either above or underground), $3.5 billion for water-type projects, $1.19 billion for delta restoration and sustainability projects within the delta.”
Bigelow said the bond is absolutely needed, given the fact that California’s infrastructure only meets the water demands of 17 million people, while the current population has more than doubled that number.
There are three proposed sites being considered for above-ground water storage, one of which is about 2.5 miles upstream from Millerton Dam at Temperance Flat.
Bigelow also addressed the rural Fire Prevention fees — which he called a tax, not a fee — saying that he has received no support in Sacramento to have this fire fee eliminated.
“All we can do is hope that the Howard Jarvis lawsuit will prevail in court, which will force the state to return the fees collected,” Bigelow said.
At the regularly scheduled Madera County supervisors board meeting on Tuesday, March 4, a workshop on water issues and drought conditions will be held. Input from area water agencies and residents is sought. “We have faced three consecutive years of drought and the impacts are devastating,” Wheeler said. “It is extremely important for our county to address these issues and move forward quickly with a strategic response that includes both community input and support.”
The workshop will be held in the board of supervisors’ chambers at the Madera County Government Center, 200 W. Fourth Street. If you are unable to attend in person, you can watch the meeting live from your home on your computer. All board meetings are streamlined online at madera-county.com under board meeting videos.