Tom Nassif Joins Allies from Environmental, Urban Sectors to Discuss the Water Bond and a Path for Passage in 2012
IRVINE, CA. (December 1, 2010)
Today, Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif joined a panel of water experts to discuss the comprehensive water package passed by
California’s legislature in 2009 at the Association of California Water Agencies’ (ACWA) Fall Conference & Exhibition in Indian Wells, Calif. California’s legislature passed this historic water package last year, with the bond set to be scrutinized by the voters during the 2010 election season. With campaign funding concerns and an uncertain electorate standing in the way, the bond was moved to the 2012 ballot.
“Given the benefit of hindsight, it’s clear the water bond would have been rejected had it remained on the 2010 ballot,” said Nassif. “Moving it to 2012 was a difficult decision, but in retrospect, it was the right call. Much of the heavy lifting remains before us. We in agriculture along with our allies in this fight from the business community, the unions, environmental community and the urban sector will have to mount a serious, well-funded campaign to educate California voters and gain their support for this critical bond.”
The luncheon panel discussion, “The Water Bond: Where Do We Go From Here?” featured Nassif who represented agriculture; Jay Ziegler, director of external affairs & policy from The Nature Conservancy, who presented from an environmental perspective and Charley Wilson, chairman, Southern California Water Committee, who spoke about the comprehensive water package from an urban viewpoint. All three men expressed optimism that California’s electorate would approve the bond in 2012 and agreed postponing a vote on the bond was the right choice.
Nassif covered a number of different issues during the discussion. He presented the case for why this bond is needed (in 2009 alone, nearly 500,000 acres of farmland was fallowed due to water supply cutbacks), spoke to the merits of this specific proposal (it provides up to $3 billion in funds for new storage projects; $2.25 billion for the Delta, with $2 billion going directly to ecosystem restoration needs in the Delta; more than $5 billion for integrated regional water management projects) and spoke about the great political challenges agriculture and its new allies overcame in seeing the comprehensive water package passed by the legislature.
More than 800 people attended the workshop, which was moderated by ACWA President Paul Kelley. ACWA's Fall Conference & Exhibition is one of two statewide conferences held each year that bring together state, local and federal water officials to discuss a broad range of subjects facing California water agencies. ACWA is the largest coalition of public water agencies in the country. Its nearly 450 public agency members collectively are responsible for 90 percent of the water delivered to cities, farms and businesses in California.
Western Growers is an agricultural trade association whose nearly members from Arizona and California grow, pack and ship ninety percent of the fresh fruits, nuts and vegetables grown in California and seventy five percent of those commodities in Arizona. This totals about half of the nation’s fresh produce.