[env-trinity] Congressman George Miller's OpEd Sac Bee 2 26 19
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Fri Feb 26 11:22:39 PST 2010
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GEORGE MILLER: Time for fresh thinking on fresh water
Posted at 12:00 AM on Friday, Feb. 26, 2010
By George Miller
When it comes to California water wars, a lot has changed.
Regrettably, you wouldn't know it from Bill McEwen's column, "It's easy to
blame Valley farmers for Delta's woes" Feb. 20, which ignored significant
progress in untangling the historically polarized battle over ensuring a
stable supply of water for all of California's stakeholders and
strengthening our economy.
Erroneously attacking my water credentials might feel good, but it does not
solve problems. Fortunately, people across the state now understand that we
can no longer unilaterally change water allocations for one group or another
without the basis of sound science. But that is what Sen. Dianne Feinstein
proposes to do and what Mr. McEwen endorsed in his column.
Sen. Feinstein's plan to accelerate water withdrawals out of the Sacramento
River and San Francisco Bay-Delta ecosystem is a serious mistake --
politically and environmentally.
Her plan would wipe out the remaining Sacramento salmon runs, eliminating
Pacific Coast fishing industry jobs already under assault from the drought.
It would harm northern California water supplies and water rights. And it
would undercut significant statewide collaborative water efforts, paralyzing
California water policy.
With a fuller picture of recent progress on California water policy, it's
easy to understand how devastating and misguided the Feinstein proposal is.
The Bush administration's involvement in California's water conflicts was
minimal at best and malicious at worst, with a substantial disregard of
scientific evidence. Without a healthier Bay-Delta system, neither the
fisheries, the cities, nor the farmers will ever see their situation
That's why the Governor's Delta Vision Task Force argued that state policy
must restore the Delta ecosystem and create a more reliable water supply for
That's why state lawmakers wrote a package of water bills, and that's why
water agencies, environmental groups, and others have worked together on a
comprehensive Bay-Delta Conservation Plan.
That's also why I convened a series of meetings last summer with my
colleagues, including Sen. Feinstein, Rep. Jim Costa and Rep. Dennis
Cardoza, so that we could work together to accomplish our shared goals of an
improved Bay-Delta estuary and an improved California economy.
We agreed to temporarily amend the Central Valley Project Improvement Act,
the law I authored, to change how water transfers are managed in the state.
I worked with Congress and my Valley colleagues to provide additional
funding for infrastructure projects that will add flexibility to water
delivery systems, including the Delta-Mendota Canal/California Aqueduct
I fought to include $100 million in the Jobs for Main Street Act to fund the
Obama Administration's action plan for California water needs.
And for several years now, I have championed congressional water recycling
bills for Republicans and Democrats benefitting Southern and Central
California and the Southwest that would yield water for hundreds of
thousands of households.
But in a sign of how some people have failed to modernize their thinking
about California water, when it came time to vote on my own bill to yield
water for another 24,000 California households in the Bay Area at no
detriment to any other water user in the state, every single congressman
from the Valley opposed it.
California's state and federal water policies are interconnected. It is in
the best interest of all farmers and all stakeholders to work
collaboratively to improve the health of the Bay-Delta and add flexibility
to our water systems. But make no mistake: All of these efforts will be
derailed by Sen. Feinstein's plan.
I hope Mr. McEwen will now understand just how much the rest of the state
has changed its thinking on water, and how important fresh thinking on this
precious resource is for our state's future success.
Rep. George Miller (D-Martinez) is the former chairman of the House Natural
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
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