CENTRAL COAST NEWS

Apparently the $7.1 billion Proposition 1 water bond is going to win easily on November 4. Politicians already feel comfortable about using the money as leverage to help their political allies.

One California state legislator is already telling local elected officials in his district that they must favor unions in bidding for contracts on a water project. If they don’t follow the directive, Governor Brown won’t give them the $12.5 million (or even $15 million) allegedly reserved for them in Prop 1.

 State Assemblymember Luis Alejo said Wednesday he would not support state water bond funding for Monterey County's Interlake Tunnel project unless the county uses the design-build process outlined in state legislation he authored.

Alejo, a Watsonville Democrat, told The Herald that he had "made it clear" to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday he would not back allocating $12.5 million from the $7.54 billion bond on the November ballot if the county pursues a different course on the $25 million water storage project.

The state lawmaker noted that the state water bond funding, if it is approved by voters Nov. 4, is competitive and would need the support of legislators and Gov. Jerry Brown, and suggested there might even be additional state funding available for the project.

Alejo's AB 155, signed into law by Brown last month, would allow the Interlake Tunnel project to use one contractor to design and build the project, a move aimed at fast-tracking the project. But the legislation has drawn criticism for its inclusion of a project labor agreement.

SALINAS >> If state voters approve a water bond on the ballot next month, Monterey County would be in line for $12.5 million for the Interlake Tunnel water storage project, Assemblyman Luis Alejo said Tuesday.

During a report to the Board of Supervisors, Alejo said the water bond funding was promised by Gov. Jerry Brown in connection with Alejo-sponsored legislation designed to fast-track the $25 million project. But he also acknowledged the county would get the money regardless of whether it used the design-build process outlined the legislation.

SACRAMENTO >> Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation aimed at expediting the proposed Interlake Tunnel water storage project, but a county water official said Wednesday the project will likely bypass the new law.

The legislation, authored by State Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, is designed to fast-track the proposal by using a design-build process on the $25 million project, which calls for construction of an 8-mile pipeline between Lakes Nacimiento and San Antonio in South County. The pipeline would allow the storage of winter water flow from Nacimiento into San Antonio, which fills up three times slower than its fellow South County reservoir.

Union dealing and scheming over state legislation in California occurs behind closed doors. The sudden and unexplained recent flip of the union position on a state plastic bag ban is a typical example.

A labor agreement included in a project that would significantly increase water storage for the Salinas Valley is being heralded by labor unions as a key means to ensure everything from worker safety and needed flexibility to managing valuable time and money.

The Interlake Tunnel Project would move winter water from Lake Nacimiento roughly 11,000 feet to Lake San Antonio. The watershed around Nacimiento fills that reservoir three times faster than San Antonio, so the interlake pipeline would take advantage of unused capacity at San Antonio. The result would be better flood control, additional groundwater recharge and more water storage to help offset droughts.

Union lobbyists try to be discreet when they influence the California State Legislature to gain advantages in public contracting. That secrecy is now crumbling in the case of a new “urgency” bill that authorizes a Monterey County water agency to use an alternative bidding procedure to build a pipeline project.

Can unions whip this bill through the legislature before new revelations about backroom deals undermine local support for it? It depends on how many Republicans in the Assembly and Senate see construction union support as useful to their political futures.

Nicole Goehring July 2, 2014

Assembly Bill 155, a bill about payroll records quickly moving through the Legislature, was gutted and amended on June 9 to suddenly become a bill requiring a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) on all construction work done on the proposed $25 million Interlake Tunnel Project to connect Lake Nacimiento and Lake San Antonio by an underground tunnel or pipeline.

Monday, 15 December 2014 02:35

Interlake Tunnel Project gets green light

Dennis L. TaylorDecember 9, 2014

One of the biggest water projects in the Salinas Valley in decades got the go-ahead Tuesday when the Monterey County Board of Supervisors approved the initial steps in punching a tunnel between the two south county reservoirs that will add billions of gallons of available water to a thirsty county.

The Interlake Tunnel Project is designed to move water, which ordinarily would spill from Lake Nacimiento, over to Lake San Antonio, which has unused storage capacity of roughly 60,000 acre feet, or 19.6 billion gallons. The project would pay huge dividends in that it would increase flood protection for downstream growers, provide more water to recharge groundwater aquifers, which both agriculture and cities use exclusively, and make available more water for environmental sustainability.

Alex Galicia is living the American dream. A Mexican-American and Iraq war veteran, he has raised a family and started a small plumbing business. One weekend a month he still serves as a citizen soldier.

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