[env-trinity] Stockton Record February 2
bwl3 at comcast.net
Thu Feb 2 16:56:16 PST 2006
Officials leaning on water agencies;
Deadline looms on Delta salt rules
Stockton Record - 2/2/06
By Warren Lutz, staff writer
STOCKTON - The governor's office is pressuring state water officials to
resolve a dispute with water exporters over high salt levels in the Delta.
New salt standards were to have gone into effect April 1, 2005, but the two
agencies responsible for exporting Delta water to Southern California
customers say they can't meet those standards without help.
With threats of legal action being tossed about, Dan Skopec, deputy Cabinet
secretary in the Schwarzenegger administration, called Tam Doduc, chairwoman
of the State Water Resources Control Board, and suggested last month that
the board settle the matter, Doduc said.
But the board did not act Wednesday when it met with officials from the
Department of Water Resources and the Bureau of Reclamation, which operate
large water pumps near Tracy. The water exporters have been negotiating with
the state water control board for more time to meet the new standard.
The board was expected to crack down on the two agencies for not doing
enough to solve the salt problem. Both deliver Delta water to two-thirds of
California's population for drinking or irrigating crops.
Doduc, who said Wednesday that she was required by law to disclose Skopec's
call, said she would decide the matter "based on the evidence" alone.
Skopec could not be reached for comment.
Dams on San Joaquin River tributaries create high salt levels by preventing
fresh water from diluting the Delta. State water projects that send Delta
water south make the problem worse.
Delta farmers argue salty water costs them millions of dollars in lower crop
yields every year. They want state officials to impose sanctions on the two
agencies and warn they may sue if they don't.
Steve Verigin, an official with the Department of Water Resources, hinted
his agency is pondering court action, too.
"We're continuing to work collaboratively with (water board) staff ... to
avoid a litigious approach to trying to solve this problem," Verigin said.
Salt levels have not yet exceeded the state's new standards. The issue is
that the water exporters failed to take measures to prevent violating the
standards in the future.
Both agencies told state water officials they are waiting for a new Delta
water project to help.
The project will use high-tech dams that can be raised or lowered on Delta
waterways, allowing exporters to keep enough water in the Delta at all times
to dilute salt.
But it won't be ready until at least 2009.
But state water board members doubt the project will be done by then.
Member Jerry Secundy said the board already has bent over backward to give
the two agencies enough time to settle. "I'd like to still be alive by the
time the barriers are put in place," he said.#
Chair, Friends of Trinity River
Advisor, California Trout, Inc
PO Box 2327
Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327
415 383 4810 ph
415 383 9562 fx
bwl3 at comcast.net
bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org
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