[env-trinity] Destroy the CVPIA?

Byron bwl3 at comcast.net
Mon Mar 13 13:41:51 PST 2006

Stakes are high as officials review valley's water rules

Hearing in Fresno to look at progress of act, effect on farmers

Modesto Bee - 3/13/06

Michael Doyle, Washington Bureau


Last Updated: March 13, 2006, 08:40:45 AM PST

WASHINGTON - Congress rewrote the Central Valley's water rules in 1992. Now,
those rules are getting a second, third and fourth look. 


High-stakes talks under way in Sacramento are following two tracks. One is
to yield the federal government's first official report card on how well the
1992 Central Valley Project Improvement Act is working. A parallel study
could result in valley farmers paying less money into an environmental fund.


Lawmakers are weighing in, too. A House subcommittee hearing set for March24
in Fresno is to bring the congressional spotlight to bear on controversies
that defy easy solution. 


"It's time to take a look at this program," said Rep. George Radanovich,
R-Mariposa. "We need to get the facts out." 


Far-reaching results 

The Central Valley Project Improvement Act dramatically changed how the
Redding-to-Bakersfield series of dams and canals operates. 


It guaranteed 800,000 acre-feet of water annually to fish and wildlife
protection. One acre-foot of water is enough to cover an acre of ground one
foot deep. It also is enough to meet the water needs of a family of five for
a year. 


It also established a restoration fund of about $50 million a year and
shortened water contracts, among other things. 


Twelve years ago, Radanovich won his first congressional election in part
over farmers' dissatisfaction with the 1992 water reform law. Now, he is
chairman of the House water and power subcommittee, giving him a platform to
ask questions and, sometimes, get answers. 

"It's to find out what has been accomplished in the past 12 or 14years,"
Radanovich said of the Fresno hearing. 


Usually, these hearings closely track the perspective of the Republicans who
control Congress. 


Last year, for instance, Radanovich convened a hearing titled "Stabilizing
rural electricity service through common sense application of the Endangered
Species Act." Four wit-nesses represented power generators, one represented
tribes and one represented environmentalists. 


Details being worked out 

Similarly, Radanovich conducted a hearing last year on environmental
regulations and water-supply reliability. Six witnesses represented farmers
or were sympathetic to their interests, while one represented an
environmental group. A July 2005 hearing on the Bureau of Reclamation's
water and power projects drew five witnesses from water or power groups, one
witness representing Western states and one voicing primarily environmental


Radanovich said the witnesses haven't been selected for the Fresno hearing
nor has an exact location been pinpointed. 

The members who are likely to attend, though - including Rep. Dennis
Cardoza, D-Merced, and Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno - have been skeptical, to
various degrees, of the 1992 law. 


"I think it's dismal," agreed Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Visalia. "This has been an
unfair tax on farmers; they sure don't like to see all this money that's
been wasted." 


Nunes is to attend the Fresno hearing, although he is no longer a member of
the House Resources Committee. The chief House sponsor of the Central Valley
Project Improvement Act, however, will be absent. 


"It is one of the most important statutory protections in place for the
bay-delta and for the watersheds of the Central Valley," Rep. George Miller,
D-Concord, wrote to Radanovich last week. 


"Californians have benefited tremendously from the CVPIA." 


Miller further complained that because of previously scheduled commitments
in New Orleans and on South Dakota Indian reservations, he can't attend the
session on the legislation sometimes called the Miller-Bradley law. 


Bradley stands for Bill Bradley, the former New Jersey senator who was
co-sponsor of the measure.


The hearing will not delve into highly secret negotiations over potential
settlement of a long-running San Joaquin River lawsuit. 

This week, though, parties to the potential settlement are to brief


Leave differences at door 

This week, as well, officials are to continue mediator-led discussions in
Sacramento on how well the 1992 law is working. 

Participants from the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Reclamation
and Central Valley irrigation groups are being advised to "drop your history
at the door," according to minutes of one recent meeting. 


"(It) is being watched closely in Washington, because there is little
experience in applying this type of review to adaptive management programs,"
Susan Ramos of the Bureau of Reclamation told participants last month,
according to minutes obtained by Miller's office.



Byron Leydecker

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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