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“More Water Now” campaign refocusing for the 2024 ballot

In December 2021, Orange County Coastkeeper and several other conservation, environmental justice, tribal, and fishing groups announced our opposition to the “More Water Now” campaign. Their goal was to get the “Water Infrastructure Funding Act of 2022” on the November ballot. This act would mandate that 2% of the state’s general fund to pay for selected water projects until an additional 5 million acre-feet of water supply was created.

California needs innovative, inclusive water solutions, and this act would’ve been a step in the wrong direction. The initiative’s language was clearly written to create easier pathways for irresponsible, profit-motivated water projects to be developed such as the Poseidon desalination project proposed in Huntington Beach.

For example, a provision of this act would’ve allowed the Secretary of Natural Resources Agency to override the California Coastal Commission. While Coastkeeper doesn’t always agree with their decisions, the Commission’s role in the coastal development process is vital to protecting our state’s coastline.

The “More Water Now” campaign stopped its push for November 2022 because of a severe lack of fundraising and voter signatures. While this is a win for responsible water in California, the campaign announced a refocusing for the 2024 ballot.

Orange County Coastkeeper will continue to advocate against regressive acts for irresponsible projects in California water like this one. State water projects and the legislature must focus on making this human right accessible and sustainable for everyone.

Because the proposed act was backdated, Poseidon’s desalination proposal in Huntington Beach would’ve qualified for these state funds. Coastkeeper and several other environmental groups have opposed the project for decades. The overpriced, polluting, and unsustainable plant concept would jeopardize small businesses, low-income housing projects, communities of color, and water ratepayers across the county. The project is currently under review for a Coastal Development Permit and will face the California Coastal Commission on March 17.

This article was released by the Orange County Coastkeeper.