[env-trinity] Stockton Record 10 27 09

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Tue Oct 27 09:39:40 PDT 2009


'Clear path' proposed for Delta

Stockton Record-10/27/09

By Alex Breitler

 

A Wetlands Water District representative said in a hearing Monday that new
Delta legislation would provide "a clear path toward building new
conveyance" to send more water to the south San Joaquin Valley and Southern
California.

 

"Conveyance" likely means some kind of peripheral canal. While the 116-page
bill legislators began dissecting Monday does not directly authorize a
canal, it would establish a new "Delta Stewardship Council" with the power
to approve or veto such a project if proposed by the state.

 

The seven-member council would include four members appointed by the
governor, two by the Legislature and one from the Delta Protection
Commission.

 

At a glance

The Delta bill, SBX7 1, would:

 

. Establish a seven-member Delta council with broad authority, including
approval or disapproval of a peripheral canal.

 

. Establish a Delta conservancy to restore habitat in the Delta, buying land
from willing sellers.

 

. Require a 20 percent reduction in urban water use by 2020.

 

. Increase fines for those who illegally divert water from rivers or
streams.

 

. Require groundwater monitoring by local districts or counties.

The council would consider approving the state's current study of a canal if
it meets certain criteria. That study, known as the Bay Delta Conservation
Plan, is already under way and focuses on a canal through the eastern Delta,
slicing past Stockton on its way to pumps that ship Delta water to the far
reaches of the state.

 

If that plan is adopted by the council, "The BDCP would be implemented and
would begin restoration of the Delta and with that have a clear path toward
building new conveyance," said Ed Manning, representing Westlands, which
relies on Delta exports and has been forced to fallow hundreds of thousands
of acres of farmland in the south Valley due to drought and protections for
endangered species.

 

"We're happy with the package and the Delta piece the way it is," said
Manning, whose comments came during a joint Senate and Assembly committee
hearing.

 

The bill, authored by Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, is substantially
similar to earlier legislation that almost made it to the Senate and
Assembly floors late Sept. 11, at the end of legislators' regular session.

 

Now the bill is back, and will earn more attention as legislators, this time
in special session, try to resolve the three-decade stalemate over water.

 

Many who rely on water taken upstream of the Delta remain opposed to the
latest bill, although the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission - which
takes its supply from Hetch Hetchy in the Sierra Nevada - is now in support,
saying its concerns have been resolved.

 

Canal opponents at Monday's hearing hammered on the reported over-allocation
of water in California; more water has been promised than can be delivered.

 

"The legislation fails to solve the water supply issues," said Tom
Zuckerman, Delta landowner. "It dances all around them. It engages in a
21st-century alchemy to try and make water out of... something, I'm not
entirely sure."

 

The message from supporters of the bill is a need for compromise from all
sides.

 

"The Delta is one earthquake, one flood away from collapse, and 24 million
people could potentially lose their drinking water," Steinberg said.

 

"The Legislature has attempted to grapple with these issues for many years,
and unsuccessfully," he said. "Now is our opportunity."

 

The legislation goes far beyond the new council. It would also create a
conservancy to oversee habitat restoration in the Delta, and would mandate
water conservation and crack down on those who divert water illegally.

 

A multi-billion dollar bond measure to pay for these actions is expected to
be introduced later this week, followed by more hearings. Monday's bill says
that those who receive exported Delta water would pay for a canal.

 

 

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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