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AirTalk debates 2018 ballot initiatives: Prop 3 — Water infrastructure and conservation bond

File photo of the California Capitol Building.
File photo of the California Capitol Building.
David Paul Morris/Getty Images

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Californians will see yet another water bond when they head to the polls in November.

After approving Proposition 68 in June and Proposition 1 in 2014, voters will have to decide how they’ll vote on Proposition 3, a bond measure that would authorize the state to borrow almost $8.9 billion in general obligation bonds for projects related to improving water infrastructure. This would include $3 billion for water quality improvement projects, $2.9 billion for watershed and fisheries improvements and $200 million would be put towards a 10-year plan to preserve the Salton Sea.

According to the state legislative analyst, it will cost taxpayers $17.3 billion to repay the bond if approved, as it would generate $8.4 billion in interest additional to the $8.9 billion the bond itself costs.

Proponents say a ‘yes’ vote on Prop 3 is a vote to secure the future of California water by investing now in projects that will mean safe drinking water for those who lack, help towns and cities be better prepared to handle long-term drought, and improve safety for dams like the one in Oroville, which suffered a spillway failure in 2017 that led to tens of thousands of evacuations in the area.

Opponents say that the projects Prop 3 is a “pay-to-play” policy where the special interest groups that drafted the proposition are the ones who would benefit most from the proposition passing. They argue that some of the projects the bond measure would funds could do more harm than good for the environment, citing new dam projects that could disrupt wildlife habitat and forest ecosystems.

Today on AirTalk, we’ll hear from environmentalists on both sides of the debate over whether to pass Prop 3 in November.

Ready for Election Day? Get up to speed on what you need to know with our Voter Game Plan at Read up on the candidates and ballot measures, find out about registration deadlines or ask us your questions.


Gerald Meral, director of the California Water Program at the Natural Heritage Institute and spokesman for the official “Yes on 3” campaign

Ron Stork, senior policy advocate at Friends of the River and a volunteer with the Sierra Club, which opposes Prop 3