[env-trinity] San Joaquin River Deal?
bwl3 at comcast.net
Thu Mar 2 09:54:04 PST 2006
SAN JOAQUIN RIVER:
Funds sought for San Joaquin River water deal
Fresno Bee - 3/2/06
By Michael Doyle, staff writer
WASHINGTON - The Bush administration's top water official said Wednesday he
was "cautiously optimistic" about a potential deal to resolve the future of
the San Joaquin River.
With any deal certain to be expensive, lawmakers are now advising the
Interior Department to cast about for potential funding sources.
One possibility being floated could be a multimillion-dollar Central Valley
environmental fund established in 1992.
The federal funds would join with a sizable state contribution to pay for
stream channel improvements and a host of other projects needed to restore
the San Joaquin River below Friant Dam. First, though, long-warring parties
and anxious kibitzers must get on the same page.
"It's a delicate negotiation right now in terms of finding common ground,"
Assistant Interior Secretary Mark Limbaugh said. "I would say progress is
being made; any time you get both parties to the table, that's progress."
Many more than two parties, though, are trying to squeeze in at this table.
That complicates things immensely. Water users from the Modesto Irrigation
District to the Stockton East Water District and beyond, while not part of
the original San Joaquin River dispute, are picking away at a potential
Limbaugh oversees the federal Bureau of Reclamation. That puts him in the
middle of efforts to end an 18-year-old lawsuit prompted by the drying up of
a historic salmon fishery below Friant Dam.
The Natural Resources Defense Council and the Friant Water Users Authority
have apparently come closer than ever before to settling the case. On
Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton in Sacramento will conduct a
hearing on the status of the highly confidential negotiations.
Rep. George Radanovich, R-Mariposa, chairman of the House water and power
subcommittee, said Wednesday that he's urged the Bureau of Reclamation this
week to consider the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund.
This is a big pot of money, with the Interior Department's share totaling
$385million this year. However, it might also be a hard sell to convince
lawmakers in other states to devote much of this national fund to solving a
Central Valley problem. Another potential source could be the Central Valley
Project Restoration Fund, which provides upward of $50million a year.
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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