[env-trinity] Fresno Bee
bwl3 at comcast.net
Tue Dec 26 10:08:15 PST 2006
Dam proposal could come soon; Temperance Flat one of top picks for state's
Fresno Bee 12/23/06
By E.J. Schultz, staff writer
SACRAMENTO Get ready for another round of water wars.
Gov. Schwarzenegger's administration is preparing a proposal to be
released as soon as January that would use state money to pay for a new
dam, perhaps one near Friant Dam in Fresno County, an administration
official said Friday.
"The governor will lay out a package [for] additional ground-water storage
but also specifically to pursue surface storage," Lester Snow, director of
the state Department of Water Resources, said in an interview.
But there's no indication that Democrats, whose support would be needed to
push the plan through the Legislature, will budge on their long-held
opposition to using public money for dams.
"Democrats need to be convinced there's a realistic plan and need, and that
the environment is protected," Steve Maviglio, spokesman for Assembly
Speaker Fabián Núñez, said in an e-mail Friday. "We haven't seen that yet."
Details are still being finalized, but the governor's proposal could split
water-storage costs between the state and local users, Snow said. The state
would pay for the "public benefit" portion of a new dam for flood control
or to store cold water for salmon fisheries, for instance. The dam would
also be used for water supply, and local agencies would pay that portion,
Global warming, he said, is increasing the need for storage. As mountain
snow melts more quickly, more capacity is needed to deal with the earlier
runoff, he said.
The state's top two choices for a dam are Temperance Flat, which is upstream
of Millerton Lake near Friant Dam, and a site in Colusa County, Snow said.
It's estimated that a dam at Temperance would cost about $2 billion.
If approved by lawmakers, the state portion could be paid with a bond, which
could go on the ballot as soon as 2008.
But that's a big if.
Water storage efforts didn't get very far in the last legislative session,
despite heavy lobbying by Valley lawmakers and the agricultural industry.
Environmentalists still say that more studies are needed to see if dams are
worth the public investment.
"Our position is a simple one," said Barry Nelson, a senior analyst with the
national Natural Resources Defense Council. "Finish the studies and let's
see if any of these projects are feasible."
Nelson said that above-ground storage at Temperance Flat would not be used
during many average or below-average rainfall years, making it a waste.
But Schwarzenegger appears ready to make a push for dam money to be included
in future public works bonds.
"Even though I want more infrastructure and to have more bonds approved, it
would never happen unless above-the-ground water storage is part of this
package," Schwarzenegger said during a Dec. 6 address to the California Farm
Bureau Federation's annual meeting, according to a farm bureau statement.
But with the state's budget already stretched thin, money could get tight.
The governor has already proposed a $10.9 billion prison and jail expansion
plan. And his top priority, along with Democratic lawmakers, is reducing the
number of medically uninsured residents in the state, which could bring
billions more in costs.
For Democrats, Maviglio said: "It's safe to say that dam-building will
continue to take a back seat to education, health care and public safety."
Friends of Trinity River, Chair
California Trout,Inc., Advisor
PO Box 2327
Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327
415 383 4810 ph
415 383 9562 fx
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