California Proposition 1, Water Bond (2014)

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Proposition 1
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Type:Bond question
Referred by:California State Legislature
Topic:Bond issues on the ballot
Status:On the ballot
2014 propositions
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June 3
Proposition 41Approveda
Proposition 42Approveda
November 4
Proposition 1
Proposition 2
Proposition 45
Proposition 46
Proposition 47
Proposition 48
EndorsementsFull text
Ballot titlesFiscal impact
Local measures

California Proposition 1, the Water Bond (Assembly Bill 1471), is on the November 4, 2014, ballot in California as a legislatively-referred bond act. This measure replaced a previous measure known as Proposition 43.[1]

The measure, upon voter approval, would enact the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014. Proposal 1, if approved, would:[2]

  • Authorize $7.12 billion in general obligation bonds for state water supply infrastructure projects, such as public water system improvements, surface and groundwater storage, drinking water protection, water recycling and advanced water treatment technology, water supply management and conveyance, wastewater treatment, drought relief, emergency water supplies, and ecosystem and watershed protection and restoration.
  • Appropriate money from the General Fund to pay off bonds.
  • Require certain projects to provide matching funds from non-state sources in order to receive bond funds.

Specific spending proposals in the proposition include:[2]

  • $520 million to improve water quality for “beneficial use,” for reducing and preventing drinking water contaminants, disadvantaged communities, and the State Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund Small Community Grant Fund.
  • $1.495 billion for competitive grants for multibenefit ecosystem and watershed protection and restoration projects.
  • $810 million for expenditures on, and competitive grants and loans to, integrated regional water management plan projects.
  • $2.7 billion for water storage projects, dams and reservoirs.
  • $725 million for water recycling and advanced water treatment technology projects.
  • $900 million for competitive grants, and loans for, projects to prevent or clean up the contamination of groundwater that serves as a source of drinking water.
  • $395 million for statewide flood management projects and activities.

Gov. Jerry Brown (D) called on the legislature to replace the previous $11.14 billion bond (Proposition 43) with a cheaper $6 billion bond on June 25, 2014.[3] Brown called the previous water bond "a pork-laden water bond… with a price tag beyond what’s reasonable or affordable."[4] The legislature passed the new $7.12 billion bond on August 13, 2014.

The original water bond was moved twice. Originally certified to be on the state's 2010 ballot, it was removed and placed on the 2012 ballot. On July 5, 2012, the state legislature approved a bill to take the measure off the 2012 ballot and put it on the 2014 ballot.

Text of measure

See also: Ballot titles, summaries and fiscal statements for California 2014 ballot propositions

Ballot title:[5]


Official summary:

The long-form summary reads:[5]

  • Authorizes $7.12 billion in general obligation bonds for state water supply infrastructure projects, such as surface and groundwater storage; ecosystem and watershed protection and restoration; drinking water protection; water supply management; water recycling and advanced water treatment technology; and flood control.
  • Reallocates $425 million of unused bond authority from prior water bond acts, for same purposes.
  • Appropriates money from the General Fund to pay off bonds.
  • Requires certain projects to provide matching funds from non-state sources in order to receive bond funds.[6]

Fiscal impact statement:[5]

(Note: The fiscal impact statement for a California ballot initiative authorized for circulation is jointly prepared by the state's Legislative Analyst and its Director of Finance.)

  • Increased state bond repayment costs averaging $360 million annually over the next 40 years.
  • Savings to local governments related to water projects, likely averaging a couple hundred million dollars annually over the next few decades.
CA 2014 Prop 1 Fiscal Impact.png


Californians last approved a water-related bond in 2006, known as Proposition 84. The measure authorized $5.4 billion in bonds for water projects. Proposition 84's supporters spent $11.4 million on their campaign urging a "yes" vote. In 2005, voters approved Proposition 50, which issued $3.4 billion for water projects.[7] Between 1996 and 2006, Californians approved about $11 billion in bonds for water projects.[8] Proposition 1 in 1960 originally created the State Water Project that has been regularly replenished with additional water project bond votes since then.





  • California Farm Bureau Federation[9]
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Audubon California
  • California Chamber of Commerce
  • Delta Counties Coalition
  • Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Ducks Unlimited
  • American Rivers
  • Silicon Valley Leadership Group
  • Friant Water Authority
  • San Diego Water Authority
  • Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
  • Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Northern California Water Association
  • State Building and Construction Trades Council of California
  • Association of California Water Agencies
  • Fresno Irrigation District
  • Western Growers
  • League of California Cities[10]
  • California State Association of Counties


Gov. Jerry Brown (D), Paul Wenger, President of California Farm Bureau Federation, and Mike Sweeny, California Director of The Nature Conservancy, wrote the argument in favor found in the state’s official voter information guide:


California is in a serve, multi-year drought and has an aging water infrastructure. That is why Republicans and Democrats and leaders from all over California came together in nearly unanimous fashion to place this fiscally responsible measure on the ballot…


Proposition 1 will not raise taxes. It is a no-frills investment in critical projects that doesn’t break the bank - it even reallocates money from unused bonds to make better use of the money.


California’s economy depends on a reliable water supply. Proposition 1 secures our water future, keeps our family farms and businesses productive, and puts Californians to work building the new facilities we need to store, deliver and treat water.


Proposition 1 will clean up our contaminated groundwater which serves as a critical buffer against drought by providing additional water in years when there is not enough rainfall or snow.

Proposition 1 expands water recycling and efficiency improvements making the best use of our existing supplies.

Proposition1 provides funding for clean drinking water in communities where water is contaminated.


Proposition 1 invests in new storage increasing the amount of water that can be stored during wet years for the dry years that will continue to challenge California.


Proposition 1 protects California’s rivers, lakes and streams from pollution and contamination and provides for the restoration of our fish and wildlife resources.




—Gov. Jerry Brown, Paul Wenger and Mike Sweeny[9]


Total campaign cash Campaign Finance Ballotpedia.png
as of September 17, 2014
Category:Ballot measure endorsements Support: $909,600
Circle thumbs down.png Opposition: $37,500

Two ballot measure campaign committees registered in support of the initiative as of September 17, 2014:[11]

Note: California Business Political Action Committee, Sponsored by the California Chamber of Commerce and Brown; Yes on Props 1 and 2 A Bipartisan Coalition of Business, Labor, Republicans, Democrats and Governor are supporting Proposition 1 and Proposition 2.
Committee Amount raised Amount spent
California Business Political Action Committee, Sponsored by the California Chamber of Commerce $62,500 $56,932
Brown; Yes on Props 1 and 2 A Bipartisan Coalition of Business, Labor, Republicans, Democrats and Governor $847,100 $194,337
Total $909,600 $251,269

The following are the donors who contributed $10,000 or more to the campaign in support of the initiative as of September 17, 2014:[11]

Note: Some of these donors gave their money to a committee that was simultaneously supporting more than one ballot measure. When that is the case, it is not generally possible to break down how much of that donor's money specifically was spent on the campaign for a particular proposition. Those contributions are listed below with shading; readers should not assume that all or even most of a donation to a multi-purpose committee was used for expenditures related to this particular proposition.
Donor Amount
California American Council of Engineering Companies $250,000
SW Regional Council Of Carpenters Issues Committee $200,000
Health Net $195,600
Members' Voice Of The State Building And Construction Trades Council of CA $150,000
Southwest Regional Councile of Carpenters Legislative Imporvement Committee $50,000
Associated General Contractors Issues PAC $25,000
The Walt Disney Company $15,000
R.L. Polk & Company $10,000


California No on Prop 1 2014 logo.jpg

The campaign against the measure is being led by Vote NO on Proposition 1.[12]



  • California Sportfishing Protection Alliance[13]
  • California Striped Bass Association
  • California Water Impact Network
  • Center for Biological Diversity
  • Central Delta Water Agency
  • Concerned Citizens Coalition of Stockton
  • Factory Farm Awareness Coalition
  • Friends of the River
  • Food and Water Watch
  • Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations
  • Restore the Delta
  • San Francisco Crab Boat Association
  • Sherman Island Duck Hunters Association
  • Small Boat Commercial Salmon Fishermens’ Association
  • South Delta Water Agency
  • Southern California Watershed Alliance
  • Winnemem Wintu Tribe


The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance issued a "statement of opposition" to Proposition 1. The group provided 14 reasons to vote against the proposition. The following is a selection from those reasons:

1. Undermines the public trust doctrine.

Water in rivers and streams, like the air people breathe, belongs to the people of California as part of the public trust… Private interests have a right to use the public’s water for beneficial purposes, as long as the public’s ownership in healthy rivers is protected. The Bond requires taxpayers to enrich a few wealthy water users by purchasing water the public already owns, at inflated prices, to protect the public’s rivers and environment. It’s a retread of previously discredited programs that allowed speculators to reap millions in profit selling the public’s water back to the public.

2. Undermines the principle of beneficiary pays.

The major reason more dams and other environmentally damaging projects have not been constructed in recent decades is the principle, stemming from approval of the State Water Project in 1960, that beneficiaries of water projects, not taxpayers, must pay for new projects. The Bond turns the beneficiary pays principle on its head by requiring taxpayers to pay for projects benefiting special interests...

3. Undermines the principle that projects should mitigate adverse impacts.

Projects have long been legally responsible for mitigating their adverse impacts. Many, if not most, of the watershed protection and restoration projects that will be funded by the Bond are efforts to repair and mitigate environmental damage caused by projects that were constructed by and for special interests… Taxpayers should not be on the hook because regulators failed to require special interest projects to mitigate their adverse impacts.

4. Ushers in a new era of big dams.

The Bond includes the largest appropriation for new dams in the state’s history… A number of dam projects that had been abandoned because of low water yield and financial infeasibility are being resurrected in response to the Bond’s commitment of billions of taxpayer dollars for dams. If the Bond passes, fishermen and environmentalists can expect to find themselves spending decades fighting new dam schemes on rivers throughout the state...

7. Provides little cost-effective near-term drought relief.

Funds for recycling, conservation and groundwater cleanup were slashed 36% in the final version of the Bond in order to provide money for expensive water purchases and speculative new dams that will not be operational for decades… In essence, the Bond sacrifices funds for proven near-term projects that would create “new” lower cost water, contribute to regional self-sufficiency, reduce dependency on the Delta and provide drought relief in order to subsidize long-term pie in the sky projects benefiting the hydraulic brotherhood...

9. Sabotages efforts to meaningfully resolve California’s continuing water crisis.

Prop. 1 is a red herring that diverts attention from the real causes of the state’s water crisis and the steps and resources required to address it. The water crisis is the result of the over-appropriation, waste and inequitable distribution of limited water supplies and the failure to balance the public trust…

10. Crowds out other critical investments.

The Bond imposes an insidious hidden cost by crowding out critical investments in public schools, roads, public health and safety. California cannot afford to provide lavish subsidies to special interests, while ignoring existing and urgent infrastructure needs...

11. Is fiscally irresponsible.

California is staggering under a $777 billion debt and voters have already approved $128 billion in general fund Bonds that must be repaid by taxpayers. The Bond would add over $7 billion in taxpayer indebtedness that must be repaid with interest, which can easily double the original amount. Subsidies for special interests are inherently fiscally irresponsible.

12. Is a hogfest of projects unrelated to water supply or drought relief.

Bond proponents carefully disguised pork projects by not identifying specific projects in general funding allocations to various groups. Associated Press, in a widely published article, reported that Conservancies and other groups have acknowledged they will use Bond funds for pedestrian and bike trails, parkways, interpretive centers, trash cleanups and other projects with no direct connection to the stated intent of the water Bond...

13. Shamefully holds a few worthy projects hostage to fiscally irresponsible and environmentally damaging projects.

The fact that the Bond contains a few worthy projects fails to justify sacrificing core environmental principles and fiscal responsibility. Approximately, 6.9% of the Bond will provide safe drinking water and clean water programs to disadvantaged communities. This commitment is long overdue and should have been presented as a standalone proposition. It’s shameful to use the long-ignored plight of those lacking safe drinking water in disadvantaged communities as justification for eviscerating environmental protection and providing extravagant subsidies to special interests....

—California Sportfishing Protection Alliance[14]

Other arguments against the proposition include:

  • Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, field director of Vote NO on Proposition 1, argued, "Proposition 1 is a corporate money grab aimed at bankrolling special interests with taxpayer dollars while providing tragically inadequate funding for projects that provide safe, clean water for the people of California. Proposition 1 is the wrong investment for California."[15]


One ballot measure campaign committee registered in opposition of the initiative as of September 17, 2014:[11]

Committee Amount raised Amount spent
Californians Against More Debt, Misplaced Spending - No On Prop. 1 $37,500 $0
Total $37,500 $0

The following are the donors who contributed $2,500 or more to the campaign in opposition to the initiative as of September 17, 2014:[11]

Donor Amount
Dante Nomellini $10,000
Del Carlo Farms, Inc. $5,000
Thomas Zuckerman $5,000
V and A Lagorio $2,500
Lory & Victoria Mussi $2,500
Rudy and Toni Mussi $2,500
Ferguson Farms, Inc. $2,500
R&M Ranch $2,500

Media editorial positions

See also: Endorsements of California ballot measures, 2014


  • Modesto Bee: "The legislators have done their part, delivering a bond proposal that will truly help solve the problems and a commitment from the governor that the state won’t take substantially more water from our rivers than they have in the past. Now, we’ve got a bond proposal we can all support."[16]
  • Palm Springs Desert Sun: "With the drought and the potential effects of climate change, we expect voters will approve Proposition 1. The Desert Sun believes they should."[17]
  • The San Diego Union-Tribune: "This is a populous and growing state, and a highly productive breadbasket for the country and the world. Proposition 1 will not solve California’s water problems forever more. But its rejection would threaten a pillar of California’s future."[18]


See also: Polls, 2014 ballot measures
California Water Bond (2014)
Poll Support OpposeUndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Tulchin Research
1/20/2010 - 1/25/2010
Public Policy Institute of California
3/11/2014 - 3/18/2014
Public Policy Institute of California
7/8/2014 - 7/15/2014
The Field Poll
8/14/2014 - 8/28/2014
Lake Research Partners
8/26/2014 - 8/29/2014
AVERAGES 47.8% 32% 20.4% +/-4.02 1,014.8
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to

Path to the ballot

See also: Authorizing bonds in California

As mandated by Section 1 of Article XVI of the California Constitution, the California Legislature was required to pass the bond act by a two-thirds vote of all the members in both legislative chambers.


On October 27, 2009, Sen. Dave Cogdill (R-14) introduced Senate Bill 2, also known as the Safe, Clean, and Reliable Drinking Water Supply Act of 2010. On November 4, 2009, both chambers of the legislature approved the bond measure. The votes were as follows:[19]

November 4, 2009 House vote

California SB 2 House Vote
Approveda Yes 55 73.33%

November 4, 2009 Senate vote

California SB 2 Senate Vote
Approveda Yes 27 77.14%

Senate Bill 2 was slated to appear on the 2010 ballot as Proposition 18.[20]


On August 9, 2010, the legislature voted to postpone the measure from the November 2010 ballot to the November 2012 ballot. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) recommended the postponement. Schwarzenegger said he did not think Proposition 18 could win in 2010. He noted, "It's critical that the water bond pass... I will work with the Legislature to postpone the bond to 2012 and avoid jeopardizing its passage."[21] Both chambers of the legislature voted to move the bond measure from 2010 to 2012 via Assembly Bill 1265 on August 9, 2010. A two-thirds majority was needed to move the measure. The votes were as follows:[22]

August 9, 2010 House vote

California AB 1265 House Vote
Approveda Yes 54 71.05%

August 9, 2010 Senate vote

California AB 1265 Senate Vote
Approveda Yes 27 79.41%


On January 19, 2012, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) expressed that he would like to see the water bond measure delayed. He said, "I think they've [voters] got to take a hard look at that one." He also expressed the view that the state's lawmakers need to think about whether the bond proposal "really fits with what is absolutely needed" for water purposes in the state.[23]

US Rep. Jared Huffman (D-2), who was a state assemblyman in 2012 and chair of the Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, said, "As written, this bond cannot pass in 2012 or any other year so my hope is – and the reality suggests – that we shouldn’t be seriously considering strategies to pass this particular bond, whether it is 2012, 2014 or 2020. To be viable, the revised bond will have to be leaner and greener."[8]

Sen. Lois Wolk (D-3) said both a tax increase and a large bond should not be on the ballot in 2012. She said, "It is critically important that we focus on the revenue measure," referring to Proposition 30. Wolk continued, "We are faced with a tax levy in November. It would be disastrous to have [the borrowing] on the ballot."[24][25]

In March 2012, Darrell Steinberg (D-6), the President Pro Tem of the California State Senate, told reporters that the water bond would probably be pulled off the ballot.[26]

Assembly Bill 1422, sponsored by Rep. Henry Perea (D-31), was introduced into the legislature. AB 1422 moved the water bond from the 2012 ballot to the 2014 ballot. On July 5, 2012, legislators approved the bill. The votes were as follows:[27]

July 5, 2012 House vote

California AB 1422 House Vote
Approveda Yes 72 91.14%

July 5, 2012 Senate vote

California AB 1422 Senate Vote
Approveda Yes 34 94.44%

Gov. Brown signed the bill on July 9, 2012.[27]

On June 25, 2014, Brown called on the legislature to replace the previous $11.14 billion bond with a cheaper $6 billion bond.[28] He called the previous water bond "a pork-laden water bond… with a price tag beyond what’s reasonable or affordable."[29] The legislature passed a new $7.12 billion bond on August 13, 2014.

Legislators were able to develop a bipartisan deal after weeks of deliberation. Republicans wanted more funding for reservoirs and water storage. Gov. Brown met with legislative leaders from both parties to help forge a compromise. Rep. Toni Atkins (D-78) said, "The pitch now is you've got a unified front. You got Northern, Central, South. You got Republicans, you got Democrats. You've got the Senate leadership, the Assembly leadership — both, you know, Republican and Democrat — and you got the governor."[30] The new bond measure is Assembly Bill 1471, also known as the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014. The votes were as follows:[2]

August 13, 2014 House vote

California AB 1471 House Vote
Approveda Yes 77 97.47%

August 13, 2014 Senate vote

California AB 1471 Senate Vote
Approveda Yes 37 100.00%

Related measures

See also

External links

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Basic information



  1. KQED, "New Ballot Numbers For November’s Water, Budget Propositions," August 12, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 California Legislature, "AB-1471 Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014," accessed August 14, 2014
  3. Los Angeles Times, "Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal intensifies water bond negotiations," June 25, 2014
  4. KQED, "Brown Wades Into Water Bond Debate," August 6, 2014
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Official Supplemental Voter Information Guide for November 4, 2014 Election, "Ballot Title and Summary," accessed September 9, 2014
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  7. Mercury News, "Californians asked to spend more during unprecedented spree of water spending," November 23, 2009
  8. 8.0 8.1 Capitol Weekly, "For water, perilous economy is big player in November 2012," December 15, 2011
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Official Supplemental Voter Information Guide for November 4, 2014 Election, "Argument in Favor," accessed September 9, 2014
  10. Sierra Sun Times, "League of California Cities and California State Association of Counties Support Proposition 1, the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Act of 2014," September 7, 2014
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 California Secretary of State, "Proposition 1 Campaign Finance," accessed September 17, 2014
  12. Vote NO on Proposition 1, "Homepage," accessed September 9, 2014
  13. Vote NO on Proposition 1, "Groups Who Support Us," accessed September 9, 2014
  14. California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, "Statement of Opposition to Proposition 1," accessed September 9, 2014
  15. The Desert Sun, "Your Voice: No on water bond," September 6, 2014
  16. Modesto Bee, "Our View: Central Valley delegation led way on California water bond," August 13, 2014
  17. The Desert Sun, "Our Voice: Legislators optimistic on water bond issue," September 6, 2014
  18. The San Diego Union-Tribune, "For California’s future, vote yes on Proposition 1," September 13, 2014
  19. California Legislature, "Senate Bill 2," accessed August 8, 2014
  20. California Legislative Analyst's Office, "Proposition 18," accessed August 8, 2014
  21. Los Angeles Times, "Schwarzenegger wants $11-billion water bond off the November ballot," June 30, 2010
  22. California Legislature, "Assembly Bill 1265," accessed August 8, 2014
  23. Los Angeles Times, "Jerry Brown says November water bond vote might need to be delayed," January 19, 2012
  24. Los Angeles Times, "California Legislature pulls water bond measure off fall ballot," July 6, 2012
  25. Business Week, "California Lawmakers Delay $11 Billion Water-Bond Measure," July 5, 2012
  26. Daily Democrat, "Water bond teeters, may be pulled from '12 ballot," March 29, 2012
  27. 27.0 27.1 California Legislature, "Assembly Bill 1422," accessed August 8, 2014
  28. Los Angeles Times, "Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal intensifies water bond negotiations," June 25, 2014
  29. KQED, "Brown Wades Into Water Bond Debate," August 6, 2014
  30. The Desert Sun, "California water bond signals historic compromise," August 14, 2014