Something to be thankful for out of Sacramento

San Diegans have a lot to be thankful for at this time of year. Today, I am pleased to give credit to our governor and state legislators for accomplishing a long-awaited and vital task -- passing a comprehensive water package to reform and rebuild California's water system. I believe this will be an instrumental component of California's economic revival.

To be sure, our legislative leaders still have a lot of work to do to boost California's competiveness and create incentives for innovation and business investment. But the bipartisan water package, which includes four policy bills and an $11 billion bond, is a step in the right direction.

Water policy is especially important to consumers and businesses in Southern California, where we lack a natural water supply. To make the most of this precious resource, the water package establishes a Delta Stewardship Council, sets ambitious water conservation policy, ensures better groundwater monitoring, and provides funds for the State Water Resources Control Board to increase enforcement of illegal water diversions. The most important victory for San Diego, given that we are at the end of the California water pipeline, is that -- with passage of the water bond next November -- we will move into the next decade knowing that we have a reliable water supply as well as funding for critical San Diego projects. This is good for the San Diego economy.

As the chairman of Gen-Probe Incorporated, one of the world's leading molecular diagnostic companies, I was especially pleased that the legislation preserves important flexibility around "process water" -- water that is used for research and development and to produce products such as life-saving biotech medicines.

Restricting the use of process water would have hampered Gen-Probe's and other biotech companies' ability to create high-paying research and manufacturing jobs in our great state, or our research institutes' ability to conduct world-class research. With that in mind, I commend the governor and Legislature for passing thoughtful and economically sound policy.

Water conservation is a key element of sustainable business practices, and I am pleased that Gen-Probe has taken measures to conserve water by installing low-flush toilets, capturing condensation from our HVAC system, and using less water for irrigation. Many of San Diego's other corporate and residential citizens are voluntarily pursuing similar initiatives.

These efforts, combined with the sensible legislation passed by our elected officials in Sacramento, give me confidence that San Diegans can continue to count on a clean, reliable water supply to help our region grow and prosper into the future. Now that is something for which to be thankful.

Nordhoff is chairman of Gen-Probe Incorporated.

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