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Dan Bacher
10-09-2007, 12:04 PM
Restore the Delta Supporters Turn Out in Force for Water Bond Hearing

by Dan Bacher

The Senate Resources and Water Committee yesterday approved Senator Don Perata's water bond measure, SB2xx, and voted down Senator Dave Cogdill's SB3xx, the Governor's $9 billion water bond. This committee vote is a big victory for opponents of the peripheral canal and the Temperance Flat and Sites reservoirs, since Codgill's measure would fund these two new dams, expand Los Vaqueros Reservoir and support the construction of a delta canal.

"The Schwarzenegger-Cogdill Bill allocates nearly $2 billion to increase pumping of freshwater from the Delta, which has already been decimated by freshwater diversions," according to an analysis by Friends of the River.

"The Governor's proposal guarantees more water to Californians, but provides no specific guarantees of water for Delta and Central Valley fish," said Dick Pool, of Water 4 Fish, a coalition of fishing groups. "In contrast, Perata's bill focuses on restoring the Delta and its fish."

The Senate is expect to vote on SB2xx today. The Perata bill is a $6.8 billion bond measure that provides $2 billion for local water planning efforts focusing on water use efficiency, recycling and groundwater clean up strategies to to allow regions to become more self-sufficient in terms of water supply. The bill also provides $2.4 billion to improve Delta sustainability.

The bill specifically prohibits expenditures that would construct new Delta pumping or water transfer facilities. Another $1 billion is provided in the bond for the restoration of the Klamath, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Los Angeles, San Gabriel, Santa Ana and other rivers.

Over 100 people representing diverse interests, including recreational anglers, duck hunters, Delta farmers, environmentalists, businesses and water agencies, spoke out in favor of Perata's bill and in opposition to SB3xx. At a press conference before the afternoon hearing, Perata noted, "This is the first time Friends of the River and the Metropolitan Water District are standing on the same stage," as representatives of the two organizations and others lined up behind him in support of his legislation.

Senator Christine Kehoe of San Diego aptly summed up the major flaw that she and the majority of Senators on the committee saw with the Codgill water bond, a measure that amounts to a big water grab funded at the public's expense. "I think the problem is that some people want dams built, but they want others to pay for them," she quipped.

The "battle of the water bonds" occurs in the context of a dramatic decline of four pelagic (open water) species - delta smelt, longfin smelt, threadfin shad and juvenile striped bass - over recent years. The major cause of this decline is a massive increase in water exports from the state and federal pumps every year since 2001. Delta smelt, an indicator species, is on the verge of extinction, while salmon and steelhead are also imperiled by water export increases.

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, who did an outstanding job of organizing a big turnout of Restore the Delta supporters for the hearing, gives us her summary of the hearing.


Delta Flows – Weekly Highlights from Restore the Delta for the Week of October 8, 2007

“Water is excellent.”
-- Pindar

Restore The Delta Supporters Make Their Opposition To New Delta Conveyance Known To State Senators

Yesterday, Restore the Delta board members, supporters, and staff joined together to testify at the Natural Resources & Water Committee Hearing on the proposed water bonds by Senator Perata (SB2xx) and Senator Cogdill (SB3xx). Delta Flows readers will remember that Restore the Delta opposed Senator Cogdill’s bond proposal as it contained language giving authorization for funding the construction of an alternative conveyance system to divert fresh water away from entering the Delta.

While many parties from throughout the state testified in order to make their water concerns part of the public record, the Restore the Delta coalition clearly represented the broadest possible range of citizens from within a given community. Consequently, we see the Natural Resources & Water Committee’s rejection of SB3xx as a victory on two levels.

First, the political momentum for building a peripheral canal or pipe to divert fresh water flows from entering the Delta has been slowed down for the time being. Second, our coalition is beginning to mirror the broad range of needs and interests within the Delta community, and the Delta community is growing in its understanding of why we need to take action to protect our region’s ecosystem.

Testifying yesterday in favor of Senator Perata’s bond proposal, and in opposition to the Cogdill-Governor proposal, were the following Restore the Delta board members and supporters representing an array of interests. In alphabetical order:

Gary Adams – Restore the Delta Board, President of California Striped Bass
Shane Hart – Principle, The Grupe Company
Roger Mammon – Restore the Delta Board, President Lower Sherman Island
Duck Hunters Association
Dick Pool – President, Pro-Troll, Water 4 Fish
Mike Robinson – Restore the Delta Board, Delta Farmer
Sophat Sorn – Restore the Delta Board, Pastor, Seventh Day Adventist Church,
Delta Cambodian Community Representative
Bill Wells – Delta Chamber of Commerce

And as always at public political and policy events regarding the Delta, Restore the Delta advisors Tom Zuckerman and John Herrick delivered with eloquence the history and law of Delta water policy.

In addition, our environmental supporters from the Natural Resource Defense Council, The Planning and Conservation League, the Environmental Water Caucus, Friends of the River, Clean Water Action, the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, and Environmental Defense also supported our efforts through testimony and behind-the-scenes efforts. We also appreciate the support of Restore the Delta advisor Dan Bacher, who continues to help us with media placement and support.

With that said, there is more work to be done. Restore the Delta staff will continue monitoring developments, language, and the progress of SB2xx – Senator Perata’s bond proposal. And naturally, we will continue to monitor and challenge government led processes such as Delta Vision, and the Bay Delta Conservation Plan in order to ensure the future of the California Delta’s ecosystem.

Again, thank you to our supporters. Like water, the people of the California Delta are excellent!


Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla
Campaign Director
Restore the Delta
Making the Delta fishable, swimmable, drinkable, and farmable by 2010!
Barbara [at] restorethedelta.org
http://www.restorethedelta.org
ph: 209-479-2053
PO Box 691088
Stockton, CA 95269