The water bond debate before the Legislature makes clear what Gov. Jerry Brown should already know: Californians want no part of his massive, $23 billion twin tunnel plan.
A new survey of 600 likely voters shows that overall support for the water bond proposal before the state Senate drops from 61 percent to 41 percent if it is perceived as a part of Northern California/Southern California water war -- which perfectly describes the water grab that is at the heart of Brown's massive tunnel proposal to send additional water south.
The new survey matches the weak support previous polls have shown for the tunnels.
The governor should drop his unpopular plan so that California can take the necessary steps to combat the drought and get serious about restoring the Delta.
Brown is right about one thing concerning the water bond: It needs to shrink. A lot. All the pork has to go, if it's going to pass muster with voters in November. The governor last week released his own $6 billion bond proposal, which is considerably smaller than any of the other bills under consideration.
The Legislature originally approved a pork-laden, $11.1 billion water bond in 2009, while Arnold Schwarzenegger was still governor. Legislators have delayed putting it before voters ever since, fearing all that pork would prevent it from gaining the necessary two-thirds approval to pass. They're right.
A new, $10.5 billion version of the water bond, authored by state Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, fell three votes short of passing Monday after failing to win sufficient support from Republicans, despite the promise of $3 billion for three new dams and $1.3 billion for Delta restoration projects and levee improvements.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg expects negotiations to continue through the summer. He argues that any successful water bond deal must be perceived as "tunnel neutral" -- that is, neither helping nor hindering Brown's plan to build two, 35-mile long, 40-feet in diameter tunnels 150 feet under the heart of the Delta. The tunnels would be capable of carrying enough water south to fill a whopping 8,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools every day.
It's an near impossible goal.
Environmentalists already fear that Brown will hijack some of the money targeted for Delta restoration for projects that will make it possible to gain permits for his tunnel plan. Central Valley Republicans won't sign on to any proposals that won't lead to additional water to irrigate their thirsty farms.
Brown's tunnel plan is going nowhere. The governor should give up on his notion of a legacy project in favor of a slimmed down conveyance system and restoration project for the Delta.