By Gary Toebben, President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.

Two weeks ago, State officials approved an emergency regulation imposing $500 fines on water users who violate mandatory conservation measures. With 80 percent of the State now in extreme drought, it’s imperative that we all conserve as much water as possible. Visit SoCal WaterSmart to find out what water conservation programs are available for your home and business.

The current drought has underscored the critical need for investment in our state’s water infrastructure. “Our state’s water system is in a deep financial crisis, with failing marks for essential infrastructure and with unmet needs of about $2-3 billion annually,” according to a recent report by the Public Policy Institute of California.

State funds for water programs are drying up quickly and state lawmakers have been unable to move beyond long-standing water wars to successfully amend the $11 billion water bond slated for the November 2014 election. The $11 billion bond measure was originally developed in 2009 to create a more drought resilient state by funding the development of local water resources and storage capacity. The general thinking in the legislature is that this bond is too large to secure voter approval.

That may be true, but our state can’t wait any longer. It’s imperative that lawmakers move quickly to amend the current water bond when they return from summer recess on Aug. 4.

The Chamber and a coalition of L.A.’s largest business associations submitted a letter to state lawmakers in June outlining the specific investments needed to reduce L.A.’s dependence on imported water and to improve the reliability of our water supplies. A high priority in that letter was bond money to clean up contaminated groundwater in the San Fernando Basin.

We encourage our members and readers to reach out to your legislators and let them know that we need a water bond on the November 2014 ballot. We cannot wait until the next general statewide election in two or four years to address our water infrastructure needs while our citizens, businesses and farmers fight this drought alone.

A reliable water supply is critical to the health of the State’s economy. Investing now will help L.A. and California manage the inevitable droughts of the future.

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Originally posted at Fox & Hounds Daily.