The Agri-Pulse West Newsletter this week detailed a new proposal to sustainably draw more water from the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta to replenish groundwater in the San Joaquin Valley. During a panel discussion Wednesday, Fresno State water expert Thomas Esqueda detailed a few funding options the Water Blueprint coalition is considering to cover the $7-billion cost.

One mechanism would be state and federal grants of $1 billion each. Another would be $300 million from cap-and-trade revenues. The other two were forms of taxes: a surcharge on water users and a sales tax of about $1 for every $200 in goods.

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“These eight counties [in the valley] are quite a powerhouse in terms of ag production,” said Esqueda, explaining how that translates into buying power when pooling resources.

Lisa Bryant, a political science professor at Fresno State, ran a public opinion survey with valley residents on the funding options. She found support for a special sales tax, but cautioned that messaging would be key to voters passing a measure. Those more skeptical of the economic future would still support the tax, but indicated that partisan opposition to a measure would be likely, Bryant said.