[env-trinity] Capitol Weekly 10 13 09 (Interesting)
bwl3 at comcast.net
Tue Oct 13 14:24:41 PDT 2009
Two-step bond eyed in water talks
By John Howard | 10/13/09 12:00 AM PST
The closed-door negotiations over California's water future between Gov.
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Legislature's leaders include a plan to borrow
$9.4 billion with voter approval -- but use only half the funds through 2015
and the rest later.
About a third the money, perhaps $3 billion, would be used to develop
storage, but whether that would be performed by dams or through groundwater
storage has not yet been spelled out. The bond money would be spent in
conjunction with matching funds from the locals and money derived from the
rates of water consumers. The money would not be used to build a canal
through or around the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta east of San
"Generally, we support what the Democrats came out with yesterday," said
Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear. "Hopefully, we are in a position to
have a vote soon."
There is no agreement on the finance piece of the water proposal, but
sources in both houses believe the political leadership appeared closer on
this section than on other sections of the complex water puzzle. And by
mid-day Tuesday, a potential agreement loomed, according to Capitol sources.
Earlier, state Treasurer Bill Lockyer questioned the wisdom of adding more
bond indebtedness. "If we're not careful, rising debt service payments soon
will consume more than 10 percent of General Fund revenues," he noted. "The
days of blithely heaping more and more debt burden on the General Fund are
over - at least they should be." He said improvements in the state's water
works should be financed mainly by users, not the state's General Fund,
which is backed by all taxpayers.
At issue is a plan to overhaul California aging water delivery system that
would move more water from rain-rich northern California to mid-state
farmers and the vast population centers of the arid south. The plan would
include environmental protections for the delta east of San Francisco and a
create a new body called the Stewardship Council. Its seven members --
including four gubernatorial appointees -- would make critical decisions on
Potentially, the plan could lead to the construction of two new reservoirs -
thus far, however, they are not spelled out in the proposed legislation and
none are guaranteed -- and increase the water level of a third. Similarly,
the hotly contested building of a canal to move water through or around the
delta to the south is not specifically spelled out in the latest
negotiations but is included in separate state planning.
If ultimately approved, the proposals would mark the most significant water
development in California since voters approved the State Water Project a
The governor and legislative leaders said that they were close to an
agreement last year and earlier this year, but negotiations collapsed as
time ran out and partisanship kicked in. Major players in the latest
political fight over water, including environmentalists and an array of
water agencies, say they have been excluded from the Capitol negotiations,
which have been tightly held in the governor's office.
The construction of billions of dollars in projects has drawn fire from
environmentalists, who contend that too little attention is being directed
at conservation, groundwater storage, species protection, groundwater
monitoring and other issues. They questioned provisions in the latest
proposals, still under discussion, that could lessen monitoring and lower
the amount of set aside to protect wildlife.
The governor has called a special session on water to begin Wednesday, but
Capitol sources in both houses said it was unlikely that lawmakers would be
able to act this week, in part because any newly drafted legislation
reflecting the a deal would need to be in print and vetted.
A north-south, bipartisan agreement on water, a rarity in the Capitol, is
the culmination of months of negotiations and a bitter, three-pronged fight
between environmentalists, northern water interests and the powerful public
water districts of the Central Valley and Southern California.
Despite legal hurdles, two reservoirs have figured in the discussions. One
is the 1.9 million acre-foot Sites Reservoir near Maxwell in Colusa County
in the Antelope Valley. The other is Temperance Flat complex above Fresno, a
$3.3 billion project that would store about 2 million acre-feet. A third
reservoir, Los Vaqueros run by Contra Costa water officials, could have its
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
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