[env-trinity] Sacramento Bee 4/27/10

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Wed Apr 28 11:42:48 PDT 2010


Calif. lawmakers reject hurdle for delta canal

Sacramento Bee-4/27/10

By Samantha Young

 

California lawmakers on Tuesday rejected a bill that would have required the
Legislature to approve or deny plans for a canal that routes water around
the delta, sidestepping a dispute over who will have the final word.

 

At issue is whether the state could one day sign off on a proposed canal now
being studied by Southern California water contractors and farmers who want
to divert Sacramento River water around the delta. The Schwarzenegger
administration has said it doesn't need the Legislature's blessing to
approve a canal as part of the state's sprawling water delivery network.

 

Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, said lawmakers can intervene at any
point. 

 

"If the administration or anyone else proposes a facility as big as what
some are pushing for ... I think it would require legislative approval right
now," said Huffman, who chairs the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife
Committee.

 

The committee killed the bill by Democratic Assemblywoman Alyson Huber,
D-Lodi, after Huffman gave assurances that he and other lawmakers already
intend to scrutinize any plan that calls for a canal or tunnel to bypass the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

 

A maze of rivers, islands and sloughs where mountain runoff collects before
spilling into San Francisco Bay, the delta supplies drinking water to some
25 million Californians and irrigation water to thousands of acres.

 

Water contractors say a canal or tunnel could ensure future water deliveries
to Southern California and Central Valley farmers, which have been curtailed
in recent years because of drought and federal pumping restrictions in the
delta to protect threatened fish.

 

Huber, who represents a district in the delta, has argued that a canal would
siphon fresh water out of the delta, making it too salty for farmers, native
fish and other species that rely on the estuary. She said the Assembly's
failure to act on her bill leaves unclear who has the final say over any new
facility that diverts water from the delta.

 

"I would rather avoid the lawsuit that you have to have to find that out,"
Huber said after the vote. "The governor says they have the authority and
the Legislature says they don't."

 

The Legislature last year created the Delta Stewardship Council to draft a
comprehensive plan to manage the delta as part of a sweeping $11.1 billion
bond package that will go before voters in November. That plan must include
a canal if one is approved by state wildlife and water agencies and it
doesn't violate other state statutes that protect wildlife. Otherwise, the
council could reject it.

 

Critics say the seven-member council - of whom the majority are appointees
of the governor - has too much power. The law does not mention any
legislative approval for a canal, even though Huffman and other lawmakers
say any large project would come before them.

 

Estimates for building a canal around the delta range as high as $9 billion,
while an underground pipeline could cost as much as $11.7 billion, according
to the Department of Water Resources.

 

 

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

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 <mailto:bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org> bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org
(secondary)

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

 

 

 

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