[env-trinity] CC Times 9 6 09

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Mon Sep 7 09:53:39 PDT 2009


Editorial: Water reform legislation leaves doubts about Delta protection

MediaNews editorial

Posted: 09/06/2009 12:01:00 AM PDT  

 

AFTER FAILING to pass a balanced budget and failing to reach a workable
state prisoner-reduction plan, legislative leaders and the governor are now
rushing to pass a water reform package that also is flirting with failure.

 

It appears that the underlying purpose of the legislation is to build an
updated version of the Peripheral Canal around the Delta to divert water to
the Central Valley and Southern California.

 

We understand that some new form of conveyance is needed to assure reliable
deliveries of fresh water to the 25 million Californians who rely on
trans-Delta water, whether it be a canal or underground aqueduct.

 

However, we have grave concerns about whether the Delta's delicate ecosystem
will be adequately protected or if water quality in the Delta will be
safeguarded.

 

There also is a question about who will pay for a conveyance and two modest
reservoirs. Will water users, particularly agricultural interests, pay their
fair share? Or will too much of the cost be borne by taxpayers through
another mammoth water bond measure?

 

The reason we have such doubts about the water legislation is that Assembly
Speaker Karen Bass and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg have
created a 14-member conference committee that lacks a single legislator from
the Delta.

 

It is also disturbing that one of the Legislature's strongest voices on
Delta protection, Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, was omitted from the committee.
Steinberg arrogantly stated that she was left off because he could not be
assured she would vote for the final legislative package. Does that mean the
14 members on the conference committee are all sure votes?

 

Steinberg said that as a Sacramento lawmaker, he would represent Delta
interests. Really? He already has shown his hand with a stacked conference
committee.

 

Another reason to worry about protecting the Delta's interest is the
provision setting up a Delta Stewardship Council that would be in charge of
planning, financing, building and operating new water facilities.

 

The council would consist of seven members, four appointed by the governor,
one by the Senate Committee on Rules and one by the Assembly speaker. The
seventh member would be the chairperson of the Delta Protection Commission.

 

In other words, there would be scant Delta representation on the governing
council and no representation on the key legislative conference committee,
which has been carefully assembled even before any legislation has passed.

 

This newspaper has long held that the state's water policy must protect the
Delta environment with guaranteed continuous flows of fresh water,
regardless of whether a peripheral aqueduct or canal is built.

 

We also believe significant increases in aboveground storage are needed to
assure enough year-round water for the Delta environment as well as
agricultural, commercial and residential users.

 

While some modest increase in storage is included in the legislative water
package, it is not enough to fully meet the demands of both users and the
Delta ecology.

 

Steinberg may well be correct in calling the water legislation "historic."
But that does not bode well for success. Historically, California's water
policies have favored large agricultural and development interests at the
expense of the environment. Without solid guarantees of adequate water for
the Delta, it appears history will be repeated.

 

Byron Leydecker, JcT

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 land

415 519 4810 cell

 <mailto:bwl3 at comcast.net> bwl3 at comcast.net

 <mailto:bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org> bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org
(secondary)

 <http://fotr.org/> http://www.fotr.org 

 

 

 

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