[env-trinity] SF Chron Editorial 2 15 10

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Mon Feb 15 09:36:17 PST 2010

 <http://www.sfgate.com/columns/editorials/archive/> Chronicle Editorials

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Sen Dianne Feinstein's fishy water deal


Sen. Dianne Feinstein should drop her end-run bid to ship delta water south
for farming. Her plan defies court rulings, endangered-species protections
and scientific studies.


TL&o=0> http://imgs.sfgate.com/graphics/utils/plus-green.gifView Larger



The water grab disrupts years of negotiations over balancing the state's
needs by rewarding one group - drought-stricken farmers - at the expense of
fishing and environmental groups, also living with declining water supplies.
Worse yet, Feinstein's action short-circuits a study she ordered up by the
National Academy of Sciences on river-flow rules designed to safeguard smelt
and salmon.

The senator was at pains to explain that her idea is only in draft form,
suggesting that it may be a negotiating tactic. She's plainly frustrated
over limits on water usage, given a heavy Sierra snowpack, rivers filled by
winter storms and record jobless levels in the Central Valley. It's an
approach she took last year when she pushed for the study of water policy,
due this spring.

She's advanced a plausible argument, but any solution needs analysis and
group agreement. Water deliveries to some farmers are 10 percent of past
levels, and she's proposing to boost these allotments to 30 to 40 percent. 

Feinstein's plan would greatly help the parched west side of the San Joaquin
Valley, where farmers have idled hundreds of thousands of acres for lack of

But her suggestion couldn't come at a worse time. Last year, Sacramento
leaders reached a bipartisan solution on improvements to the delta's
depleted water levels, a breakthrough deal built on concessions from all
sides. Feinstein's push to reward one interest group is "like throwing a
grenade into everything we worked on last year," said Assemblyman Jared
Huffman, a San Rafael Democrat who played a key negotiating role. 

In addition, a fishery management report last week found that Sacramento
River salmon stocks are at a record low point, a level that may lead to the
third straight canceled fishing season. The fish depend on steady flows in
the river, a main source for water Feinstein wants diverted.

California water policy needs a political champion willing to take on a
complicated issue. That means adopting a balanced approach, not one that
bails out one side at the expense of all others. 

Read more:



Byron Leydecker, JcT

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 land/fax (call first to fax)

415 519 4810 mobile

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

 <mailto:bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org> bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org

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




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