[env-trinity] $11.1 Billion Water Bond

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Mon Nov 30 14:24:34 PST 2009


Water bond's lure for the North Coast

John Driscoll/The Times-Standard
Posted: 11/25/2009 01:30:21 AM PST

The North Coast would get $315 million and be eligible for a share of $3.38
billion as part of a state water bond being proposed for 2010 -- a bond that
many are questioning as unaffordable and that regional interests say
threaten salmon rivers. 

The Department of Water Resources this week roughly outlined how the $11.1
billion in the water bond would be dispersed by region. The North Coast
would be eligible for hundreds of millions for watershed projects, wetland
restoration, salmon habitat improvement, waterfowl habitat projects, and
vegetation management. In the bond measure is also $250 million for removal
of the Klamath River's four main dams. 

While the bond, and the legislative package passed earlier this month, has
been touted by supporters as a big stride toward improving the state's weak
water policies, conservationists in the north point out that most of the
money would go to new dams, water projects and a canal to pump water around
the Sacramento River Delta to cities and farms to the south. That could
threaten water available for fish in the Trinity River, which is connected
to the Central Valley Project, they say. 

"I'm pretty sure that it's a long-term commitment of Central Valley water
and nobody is sure how the Trinity River plays into that," said Humboldt
County Supervisor Jimmy Smith, "but I think it's going to be significant." 

The Legislative Analyst's Office points out that the state is currently
operating at 
a $6.3 billion shortfall, with deficits projected to reach $14 billion next
fiscal year and $20 billion a year for another five years. The bond would
create debt service of $600 million a year. 

Smith said the proposed bond is far too expensive and complex, and that the
Klamath money should be carved off and put forward in its own package, or a
simpler one. 

If the money for the North Coast -- Humboldt, Del Norte, Trinity and parts
of Glenn, Lake, Marin, Modoc, Siskiyou and Sonoma counties -- is meant to
draw support from the region, it's not certain that it would be delivered.
Proposition 84, a water bond passed in 2006, was $5.4 billion. Tom Stokely
with the California Water Impact Network pointed out that some $40 million
for the California Department of Fish and Game's fisheries restoration
program hasn't yet come through. 

Billions from previous water bonds also haven't been spent, according to the
State Treasurer's Office. 

Stokely cautioned that the efforts most likely to be funded are the building
of dams, reservoirs and canals, while fish and wildlife provisions are
likely to get bound up due to state budget woes. 

"I liken it to Charlie Brown and Lucy where she holds the football for him
and then at the last minute pulls it away," Stokely said. 

Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro called the water package and the bond to be "a
wolf in sheep's clothing." The Trinity River may be particularly vulnerable
to excess diversion due to existing infrastructure tying it to the Central
Valley Project, he said. Chesbro also said that water projects have always
been paid with revenue bonds, but that's different with the latest water
bond. 

"This would be a general obligation bond, which means they want to take our
water and then make us pay for it," the Arcata Democrat said.


 

Byron Leydecker, JcT

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 land

415 519 4810 cell

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(secondary)

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