[env-trinity] Status of Bond Legislation - Dam(s)

Byron bwl3 at comcast.net
Tue Mar 14 10:22:15 PST 2006

Governor proposes water storage plan

Legislature would pick one of three projects in an effort to break a
partisan impasse.

By Andy Furillo -- Bee Capitol Bureau
Published 2:15 am PST Tuesday, March 14, 2006

In an effort to break the infrastructure deadlock, Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger has offered up a $500 million surface water storage plan in
which the Legislature would be asked to pick from three proposed projects,
according to Republican and Democratic legislators. 

Democrats are supporting a dam restoration project in Riverside County that
could add up to 425,000 acre-feet to the state water system, while
Republicans are pushing for massive new storage locations in Colusa County
and along the Madera-Fresno county line that could top a million acre-feet

According to legislators, the governor's $500 million would pay for actual
construction or assorted environmental and engineering studies and would
leverage other possible funding sources to create what would amount to
projects costing in excess of $1 billion each. The Legislature would need to
approve the spending on a two-thirds vote, and if it could not decide on one
of the three sites by 2018, the money would go toward a groundwater storage

"The three of them would go into a competitive bid for that money, and one
or all three would get some of the money to proceed with everything they
need," said state Sen. Sam Aanestad, R-Grass Valley, providing details
Monday on the governor's water plan. 

Representatives of the Governor's Office did not immediately comment on the
water plan. 

The Assembly, meanwhile, remained on standby late Monday night in hopes that
Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders would hash out an infrastructure
agreement that got held up in an early-morning vote Saturday in the state
Senate, in large part over disagreements on the water storage issue. 

Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, D-Los Angeles, and Senate Minority Leader
Dick Ackerman, R-Irvine, emerged from the governor's office around 10:30
p.m., saying there would be no vote and that they were sending their members
home for the night. 

State Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata raised multiple objections to the
new plan taking shape in the Assembly in a memo released to his caucus and
reporters. Among other things, he said the Northern California water
projects "are years, and billions of dollars, away from feasibility." 

Perata also objected to proposed Assembly amendments that would reduce the
amount of urban park land, ease environmental restrictions, add funding for
Highway 99 improvements at the expense of other Northern California road
projects, and change the distribution of transit funding in the Los Angeles

Schwarzenegger proposed a $222 billion infrastructure plan in his State of
the State speech that would be jump-started with $71.5 billion in bond
funding approved by voters over the next 10 years. 

Legislative Democrats proposed a $48.6 billion package to be approved over
the next four years. But in early Saturday action, that plan fell three
votes short of the two-thirds passage needed in the state Senate. 

Secretary of State Bruce McPherson initially established last Friday as the
deadline to get a plan on the June ballot, but has since suggested lawmakers
could take more time. 

In the Democratic plan unveiled last Friday, the state would put the $500
million into rehabilitating an improved Lake Perris dam in Riverside County,
which represents the far southeast repository of the State Water Project. 

Seismic studies in the region had determined that the dam could not
withstand a major earthquake, leading the state Department of Water
Resources to draw down the lake's capacity from 125,000 acre-feet to 75,000,
said agency spokeswoman Sue Sims. 

A new dam, Sims said, could maintain the lake's current size, go back to its
old capacity or expand it to 500,000 acre-feet. 

"We're really at the early stages of looking at all of that," Sims said. "At
the moment, we're proceeding with a retrofit to return it to its existing

Republicans, meanwhile, have pushed for two surface storage sites further
north, one along the San Joaquin River above the Friant Dam on the
Madera-Fresno county line and the other in the Coast Range west of Maxwell
in Colusa County. 

The San Joaquin River site at Temperance Flat could create space for up to
1.2 million acre-feet of water. Ron Jacobsma, the general manager of the
Friant Water Users Authority, said the district wants the site to recover
water it expects to lose in an impending settlement of a federal lawsuit
brought by environmentalists to rehydrate dry stretches of the San Joaquin
below Friant Dam. 

"In our minds, the best long-term solution to recovering most of that water
supply hopefully would be surface storage," Jacobsma said. 

Barry Nelson, a senior policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense
Council, which brought the suit to force the water releases down the San
Joaquin, said a new dam "is the single most expensive option" for the Friant
district to solve its water problem. 

The proposed Sites Reservoir in Colusa County was one of five storage
facilities suggested over the years in the state-and-federal Cal-Fed process
that has sought to balance water needs among cities, farmers and the

No water agency has yet stepped forward to offer a concrete proposal to pay
for the Sacramento River diversion project that could produce 2 million
acre-feet of water annually. But David Guy, director of the Northern
California Water Association, said there is still "lots of interest" in the

"I think it could be one of the great water projects for the 21st century,"
Guy said. 

But the NRDC's Nelson said, "It's a mystery to us why the public should be
asked to invest a half a billion in projects when water users are not
willing to stand up and say, 'We'll write a check to help build it.' " 



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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