Delta Community and Environment Groups Respond to Delta Legislative Water Package

Posted on 06 August 2009

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Barbara-Parrilla.jpg By Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla
Campaign Director
Restore the Delta

Restore the Delta, local and statewide environmental groups have voiced their strong concern regarding a package of water bills released by the Legislature. This legislative package, if enacted, would result in a massive and costly restructuring of California's water laws and water infrastructure - covering several contentious water issues including governance of the Bay-Delta region, water conservation, and an updated version of the multi-billion dollar Peripheral Canal, which was overwhelmingly rejected by California voters in 1982.

"While we are pleased to finally see some of the language, we remain strongly concerned about the process, the transparency, the costs and abdication of oversight contained in these proposals," said Jonas Minton, Water Policy Advisor for the Planning and Conservation League (PCL). "To be clear, we strongly support the need to address our state's critical water needs and hope to see issues addressed, including, but not limited to the governance of the San Francisco Bay-Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta, water conservation, flood management and groundwater recharge, reclamation and reuse.

"However, the Schwarzenegger plan to build a 50 mile- long canal will not generate any new water, abdicates any meaningful oversight, cedes absolute authority to faceless bureaucrats and will cost over $10 billion, even more once you add mitigation and restoration costs. The language in this legislation does nothing to change those facts," added Minton.

Representatives from the Sierra Club California, Restore the Delta, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, Friends of the River and the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water joined PCL in expressing concern over the fact that the Legislature developed these bills (SB229 - Pavley; SB12 - Simitian; AB39 - Huffman; and SB458 - Wolk) with no public input and their worry that the bills will be rushed through in the last three weeks of the legislative session.

"There is no question that the Delta is in crisis and we must find a way to work together to save the Delta and the San Francisco Bay," Minton noted. "But there has to be a better way than jamming this down the public's throat and asking them to pay billions for a project they haven't had any say in at a time when the state has been issuing IOU's, cutting back on schools, and shutting down parks."

We want a more comprehensive approach to address our state's water needs. We want an approach that safeguards the Bay, the Delta, the environment and the people who live and work in the area. We want real solutions that include cost effective and environmentally sound programs and projects that will capture, recycle, and treat water. We want long-term Delta management that is based on a firm understanding of Delta freshwater needs.

"The current process doesn't make sense. This legislation is not enough and there is no need to rush into the Governor's New Peripheral Canal."

To read all the bills in their entirety, click here.

The drafts of these bills will be discussed at the joint informational hearing of the Assembly Water, Parks & Wildlife and Senate Natural Resources & Water Committees on August 18, 2009. At this point in time, we do not know what type of or if any public input or testimony will be part of this hearing. Restore the Delta will be sending out daily legislative updates as we learn more.

Restore the Delta is a grassroots campaign of residents and organizations committed to restoring the California Delta so that its waters are fishable, swimmable, drinkable, and farmable.