What it would do:

Give the state permission to borrow $8.9 billion to fund watershed protection ($2.5 billion), water supply improvements including wastewater treatment ($2.1 billion), habitat restoration ($1.4 billion), groundwater management ($1.1 billion), flood protection projects ($500 million), as well as upgrades and repairs to traditional water infrastructure, like canals and dams ($1.2 billion).

What it would cost the government:

According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, the state’s nonpartisan budgetary scorekeeper, paying back the bond with interest will run the state government an extra $435 million annually for the next 40 years on average. This is roughly equivalent to about one-third of 1 percent of the state’s current general fund—or a little less than what the state spent on its Department of Fish and Wildlife this year. The total cost of the bond is expected to be $17.3 billion.

Why it is on the ballot:

No, this isn’t déjà vu. On June 5th, California voters passed a $4.1 billion bond to fund water infrastructure improvements, as well as new parks. That proposition was placed on the ballot by state lawmakers in part to discourage outside groups from asking voters for even more money in November. And yet here we are. Unlike the June proposition, this bond is much bigger and its funds will be entirely dedicated to water projects.

Full text of Prop. 3

Still undecided? Check out our interactive ballot guide that helps you get to a decision about how to vote on each ballot measure through a series of questions.


Arguments in Favor:

From the Oroville Dam to groundwater depletion in the Central Valley to the Salton Sea, California faces no shortage of water woes. Yes, the state of California has borrowed big to fund water projects in the past. But bonds provide long-term, recession-proof, dedicated streams of cash, exactly what the state needs to upgrade and update its aging infrastructure.

Arguments Against:

Not only have taxpayers foot the bill in the past for big water bonds, we did it again in early June! And the state still hasn’t spent all of the money it borrowed in 2014 with Prop. 1. There are additional concerns about how the money will be spent since the proposition lacks key oversight guarantees. Plus, why should taxpayers statewide pay for regional projects, like canal repairs, that are usually paid for by local water users, like farmers and local residents? And maybe we shouldn’t be doubling-down on environmentally destructive projects like big dams anyway.


See for yourself



John Cox

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein

League of California Cities

California Chamber of Commerce

Ducks Unlimited

Western Growers Association


Sierra Club of California

San Diego Union-Tribune editorial board

Sacramento Bee editorial board

The League of Women Voters of California


Prop. 3 Campaign Contributions

Going Deeper

What an $8.9 billion water bond would buy



Proposition 3: Smart water plan or costly gift to farmers?


The $8.9 Billion California Water Bond That Has Environmentalists Divided


Pro and Con on Proposition 3


Your Call Election Special: CA Prop 3 debate & voter information guide


Proposition 3 is the wrong water bond for California. Vote no


Chronicle recommends: No on state Prop. 3


Editorial: Reject Prop. 3 $8.9 billion pay-to-play water bond


Pay-to-play ballot measures are flourishing


My turn: The real story behind the Proposition 3 water bond


Untangling the Complexities of California’s Proposition 3 Water Bond