In last week’s elections, voters in several states approved initiatives to fund water infrastructure, continuing a positive trend for these measures in recent years.
In addition to California’s Proposition 1, which we discussed in last week’s blog post, ballot measures authorizing the expenditure of taxpayer money for water projects passed in Florida, Rhode Island, and Maine.
In Florida, voters approved an amendment to the state’s constitution (referred to as Amendment 1) directing revenue from real estate taxes into a land and water conservation fund. The fund will be used for land purchases that are tied to improvements in water quality, for Everglades restoration projects, and for protecting drinking water sources from pollutants. The measure will provide a significant funding stream – roughly $10 billion over the next 20 years, starting with about $625 million in 2015 – for land acquisition efforts that target water quality enhancements. The measure passed with approximately 74% of the vote.
In Rhode Island, voters approved the $53 million Clean Water, Open Space and Healthy Communities Bond, the largest portion of which authorizes $20 million for the Rhode Island Clean Water Finance Agency (CWFA) to invest in clean water projects. Proponents of the bond emphasized how the state’s urgent need to upgrade wastewater treatment plants had far outpaced available funds, and how the $20 million invested by the CWFA would ultimately provide $80 million to $100 million of project funding to improve the state’s water resources for generations to come.
And in Maine, voters approved a smaller but still significant spending package, authorizing the state to issue $10 million in taxpayer-backed bonds for water-related projects. The measure, passed by roughly 64% of the vote, authorizes borrowing for a wide variety of projects, including stream crossings and culvert upgrades, wetland restoration, and wastewater and drinking water revolving loan funds.
CWC applauds voters in these states for expressing their overwhelming preference for water project-related spending, and will continue to advocate for this type of funding at the federal level.