The RTD campaign has three questions regarding a NHA:
1. Will a NHA protect water quality and water quantity for fisheries and Delta farms?”
Answer: No. A NHA will have no direct impact on water quality. That is why RTD sees the NHA designation as a secondary Delta issue.
2. Will a NHA help or harm Delta communities?
Answer: NHA funding may have a positive impact on local government funding for the five Delta counties. That’s why they support it.
3. Will a NHA take away private property rights or add another level of bureaucracy that will harm the agricultural community and the recreation community in the Delta, thereby further reducing the taxable base in the five Delta counties?
Answer: We don’t know. It appears that agriculture has been written out of this legislation. That is why RTD likes the idea of discussing a NHA using the feasibility study that DPC has to administer under the law. This will give the community more time to understand exactly what is proposed and come up with the right response. We need time to do this process justice, even at the risk of losing funding by not supporting Feinstein’s bill as written.
What we don’t like is a NHA introduced from outside the Delta distracting Delta residents from working in partnership with the five Delta counties. We all need to be on the same track.
We believe that the biggest threat to private property rights in the Delta is the ability of the re-instituted California Water Commission to condemn property on behalf of the State Water Project. NHAs cannot by themselves condemn property.
In sum, we think Delta agriculture and fishing communities need to work with local elected representative and the Delta Protection Commission to determine if a NHA designation is good for the Delta. And we should all keep a close eye on the California Water Commission, which is a much greater threat to private property rights.