[env-trinity] SF Chronicle 10 27 09
bwl3 at comcast.net
Tue Oct 27 09:36:19 PDT 2009
Delta water plan emerges for public to view
By Wyatt Buchanan
Strict conservation, new dams and a peripheral canal are all on the table
after six weeks of closed-door negotiations to solve the state's water
crisis and restore the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta ecosystem.
Leaders in the state Senate and Assembly are still discussing how to pay for
the plan, which could cost $9.4 billion.
The Legislature could vote on the plan as soon as the end of the week.
State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said that he
did not want the proposal to "linger" and that the overhaul that has been
decades in the making has a "momentum that did not exist before."
"There is no question the status quo is unacceptable, and there is no other
... package in our respective houses that would allow us to move forward in
a comprehensive way," Steinberg said.
Water for 24 million people in California - about two-thirds of the state's
population - flows through the delta system, which has a series of levees
and canals at great risk of failing in a natural disaster such as an
The plan has several parts, including the creation of a Delta Stewardship
Council that would have broad oversight of the delta and the ability to
approve a peripheral canal. It would lead the effort to restore the delta
and improve the state's water supply.
Additionally, the plan would mandate a 20 percent reduction in urban per
capita water use by 2020, though there may be exceptions for cities
including San Francisco that have aggressive conservation practices. Also
included are groundwater monitoring and increased penalties for illegal
The negotiations during the past six weeks did not change the overall
framework of the plan, but they resulted in added legal language on specific
issues, such as assurances sought by the San Francisco Public Utilities
Commission that existing water rights on the Tuolumne River would not be
jeopardized. Also added were tiered penalties of up to $5,000 per day for
illegal water diversions.
But Republican leaders said that several issues remain unresolved, including
procedures for groundwater monitoring and potential penalties for missing
conservation goals. They said they want those issues resolved before
legislation moves to the floor.
"There are few, but also very significant, issues that need to be addressed
before this is anything that anybody would bless as a deal," said Senate
Minority Leader Dennis Hollingsworth, R-Murrieta (Riverside County).
Republican support is critical for the two-thirds vote to put a bond on the
ballot to pay for the overhaul, which could include dam construction as
well. Leaders said they are discussing a $9.4 billion bond that would be
issued in two stages because of the state's precarious budget situation. As
much as $3 billion of those funds could be authorized for new dams.
Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has said he would not sign any water
legislation that did not include money for dams.
Assembly Republican Leader Sam Blakeslee of San Luis Obispo said he thinks
California could face a $20 billion deficit in January.
Cutbacks: Mandates a 20 percent per capita reduction in urban water use by
Oversight: Creates the Delta Stewardship Council to oversee the delta and
approve, if warranted, a canal around the delta.
Dams: Opens the door for construction of dams.
Fines: Imposes penalties for illegal water diversions of up to $5,000 per
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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