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2008 Election Water Issues

Results of the Nov. 4, 2008 general election.


Bond defeat denies water/sewer access to some in Pender County, North Carolina

It was the second time voters in the Columbia-Union district have rejected the bond, which – if passed – would have helped fund construction of the 2 million-gallon-a-day water treatment plant Pender County is working with New Hanover County to build. In 2006, Columbia-Union voters were the only ones in the county to reject the bond. At the time, Pender County Commissioner Jimmy Tate blamed confusion among residents about how the bond would be funded. On Tuesday night, he said not much has changed. “I think people didn’t understand how it would be paid for and put out an effort to see that it didn’t pass,” he said. Tate said prior to the vote he worked to educate voters on how the bond can be funded without the tax hike residents fear will result from water and sewer coming to the northern tip of the county. Tate has argued that the bond borrowing can be repaid through a combination of user fees and alternative funding sources he and County Manager Rick Benton are committed to securing. With the bond referendum’s failure, Tate said, residents in his district who were hoping for an alternative to rusty water or aging wells and septic systems will have to wait for yet another chance to approve water and sewer services already available in other parts of the county. He said he doesn’t know when that chance will come. Wilmington, North Carolina Star-News_ 11/6/08

Arkansas voters approve $300 million water bond package

Arkansas voters approved a measure Tuesday night that would allow up to $300 million in bonds to be issued for water projects around the state. The bond package, referred to voters by lawmakers, would offer low-interest loans and grants through the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission for local governments building sewer and water projects. AP/Arkansas Business_ 11/4/08

Tempe, Arizona voters approve $113.3 million for water and sewer improvements

The $113.3 million for water and sewer improvements includes funding for water treatment plant and wastewater treatment plant renovations and sewer line replacements. In addition, part of another $44.2 million bond that also was approved will be used for storm drain improvements. Arizona Republic_ 11/5/08

Pennsylvania voters approve $400 million water bond to repair and upgrade water and sewer systems

With 84 percent of precincts reporting, the yes votes were leading by a ratio of nearly 2-1. The grants and loans would help sewage- and water-treatment plants throughout the state meet federal standards for discharge into the Chesapeake Bay. The money would also be used to curb stormwater runoff, reduce pollution, and address the harmful environmental effects of farm chemicals. AP/Philadelphia Inquirer_ 11/5/08

Columbia, Missouri voters approve $38.9 million bond to upgrade water infrastructure

Proceeds from sale of Proposition 1 bonds will be used to finance renovations and additions to the city's water system over the next six years. In the face of increasing citywide demand for water and with mains as old as 50 years in some places, Columbia Water and Light proposed the large-scale bond issue as the most economically feasible solution to maintenance and distribution issues. According to figures provided by the city before the vote, the average customer's monthly water bill will increase by a total of $5.30 over the six-year period to pay for the bonds. Columbia Missourian_ 11/5/08

North Plains, Oregon reject $1.58 million bond to pay off new water line

The $1.58 million water bond was turned down by 57 percent of voters. City councilor David Smith, an advocate of the bond, said it would have cost residents less than continued hikes in water rates, which he said probably would be necessary to pay off a water line the city built in 2005. A city consultant had predicted water rates would climb at least another 16 percent in the next two years. This was the third time the city asked voters to approve a bond to pay off the $1.7 million state loan for the line. The bond measure would have raised property taxes by about 97 cents for each $1,000 of a property's assessed value for the first year. The Oregonian_ 11/4/08

General Financial Issues

Minnesota Voters Approve $5.5 Billion to Protect Land and Water

On Election Day, Minnesota voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, the largest conservation ballot measure in history, according to The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national conservation organization. At more than $5.5 billion dollars for land and water conservation, the winning measure nearly doubles the previous largest conservation ballot measure, New Jersey's Constitutional Amendment in 1998, which dedicated $2.94 billion in sales tax to the Garden State Preservation Trust.  The historic success of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment will increase investment in clean water, natural areas, cultural legacy, and parks and trails by about $290 million a year for 25 years. An estimated $220 million a year will protect and restore natural areas, parks, and lands vital for water quality.  MarketWatch_11/6/08

Colorado's Amendment 52 defeated; Would have diverted money from water to transportation

The contest over Amendment 52 turned into a battle largely between water and asphalt, and water won. The measure aimed to take surplus dollars flowing into Colorado's severance-tax trust fund and divert them from water projects to transportation needs, "giving first priority to reducing congestion on the Interstate 70 corridor." It would have written such a diversion into the Colorado Constitution. The upcoming session of the General Assembly may consider a statutory alternative for tapping severance-tax proceeds for transportation. Denver Post_ 11/4/08

Water district measures defeated in northern Colorado

Two ballot issues concerning the Greeley-based Central Colorado Water Conservancy District were soundly defeated by voters Tuesday. Ballot Issue 4A concerned the district as a whole, while Ballot Issue 4B pertained to the district’s ground water management subdistrict. The district’s boundaries basically follow the South Platte River from Brighton, in Adams County, through Weld County to Wiggins in Morgan County. Both measures asked voters to give permission to collect, retain and expend all revenue and other funds collected next year and in future years, commonly referred to as de-Brucing. Had it passed, the district said it would be able to use the additional funds to seek grants from the Colorado Water Conservation Board, the state and other sources for water storage, conservation, education and similar programs without increasing taxes. Greeley Tribune_ 11/5/08

Property Taxes

Santa Cruz, California votes to increase property taxes to clean up storm water runoff

Measure E, which would raise annual property taxes to help Santa Cruz meet state requirements to clean up storm water runoff, was winning with more than 75 percent of the vote early Wednesday morning, with all precincts reporting, according to the county clerk's office. It needed two-thirds approval to pass. The measure will raise property taxes $28 per year for residential parcels and $94 per year on other developed plots, thus collecting about $700,000 annually in new city revenue. That money should pay to clean up water that runs into local waterways and the Pacific Ocean after storms, carrying oil, trash and other pollutants with it. Measure E dollars will complement the $760,000 the city already spends each year to clean up storm water, much of which is raised through an existing Storm Water Enterprise Utility Fee. Santa Cruz Sentinel_ 11/5/08


In California's Los Angeles County, voters in the Santa Clarita Valley vote to remove 'salt-based' water softeners

Measure S called for the removal of all "salt-based" self-regenerating water softeners from homes in the Santa Clarita Valley serviced by the county's local sanitation district. In supporting Measure S, the county sanitation district argued that getting rid of existing water softeners would reduce the amount of salt that ends up in the Santa Clara River. The salt is harmful to crops downstream. State mandates to reduce the level of salt in the river could force construction of a costly desalination plant paid for by Santa Clarita Valley water consumers if the measure didn't pass, supporters said. Santa Clarita Valley Signal_ 11/4/08


North Platte, Nebraska says 'no' to fluoride in water

For the third time, North Platte voters have said "no" to fluoride. Two-thirds of the local voters approved a measure to opt out of a state mandate that requires cities with 1,000 or more people to fluoridate their drinking water. This was the third time that North Platte residents have voted on the issue, all with the same result. Earlier this year, lawmakers adopted a bill (LB 245) that requires any city in Nebraska with a population of 1,000 or more to fluoridate their water by June 1, 2010. Any city that did not currently fluoridate its water was given the chance to opt out of this mandate through a ballot initiative. North Platte Telegraph_ 11/5/08

More than two dozen Nebraska communities turn down fluoride in water

The latest communities to report rejection of the plan were those in Bayard, Bridgeport, Chadron, Crawford, Hastings, Kimball, Mitchell, Scottsbluff and Sidney. Others whose voters said no were Beatrice, Broken Bow, Cozad, Friend, Gothenburg, Grand Island, Grant, Lexington and North Platte, as well as Pawnee City, Sutherland, Wilber, Wymore and York. Crete was among cities that approved a fluoridation measure. More than five dozen Nebraska communities addressed the issue on Tuesday. AP/KOLNKGIN_ 11/5/08


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