The country's tallest dam no longer has enough water to supply Californians electricity while millions of dollars meant to enhance the state's water reserves have gone unused for seven years, the Washington Examiner reported Monday.
Voters in 2014 approved Prop. 1, which authorized $7.5 billion to alleviate California’s water woes.
The Examiner said storage facilities were the largest portion of the bond, which also included projects such as water recycling, groundwater sustainability, and drinking water safety. A total of $2.7 billion were dedicated to the construction of reservoirs to capture excess water runoff during winters.
California's bureaucracy, however, has caused major construction projects to take decades to complete, the Examiner said.
Meanwhile, state residents have endured cutbacks and rationing due to a decreased water supply, and California's power grid can't keep up with the summer demands.
Republican State Sen. Jim Nielsen, whose district includes the Oroville Dam, led the efforts behind Prop. 1.
"That money is held up because of environmental permitting," Nielsen told the Examiner. "The construction [overseers] said it will be six more years before we have water in that lake. Meanwhile, not one gallon of water has been placed in above-ground storage pursuant to this bond measure."
Nielsen recently held a press conference at the edge of the Oroville Dam to push Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom to cut through the bureaucracy.
"Gov. Newsom and the Democrats running this state should be ashamed," Nielsen said. "They fast track through environmental regulations to build sports stadiums but refuse to do the same when it comes to infrastructure projects that would protect the livelihoods, health, and safety of Californians. That’s unconscionable."
A new arena for the Los Angeles Clippers was fast-tracked through the lengthy environmental process with help from the state legislature and signed off by Newsom in less than two years. Other sports venues for the Los Angeles Chargers and Golden State Warriors were built in about five years.
GOP Rep. Doug LaMalfa represents the district that includes the dam. He has been critical of the state's policy of releasing water from Oroville into rivers to help fish populations. The water eventually ends up in the ocean.
"By failing to observe the most obvious thing, that we didn’t get much rain or snow this year, the state and the governor continued to direct his bureaucracy to expend a limited water supply throughout the winter and spring and did nothing to save critical water for this fall," LaMalfa said in a statement.
LaMalfa tried to obtain $1 billion in the current budget negotiations but was unsuccessful, his office told the Examiner.
"We seem to have plenty of money for the green new deal, but we don’t have money to actually provide water that people need?" LaMalfa said in a statement.
Lisa Lien-Mager, Deputy Secretary for Communications at the California Natural Resource Agency, told the Examiner that building reservoirs takes time due to feasibility studies and permits.
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