For Immediate Release: Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Contact: Steve Hopcraft 916/457-5546; [email protected]; Twitter: @shopcraft; Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla 209/479-2053 [email protected]; Twitter: @RestoretheDelta
the California Water Commission 1.21.15 meeting
SACRAMENTO – Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Gov. Brown’s plan to build Peripheral Tunnels that would drain the Delta and doom salmon and other Pacific fisheries told the California Water Commission (the Commission), that their work plan for the regulations and guidelines for implementing Chapter 8 of the recently approved water bond are too narrow for eligible projects, should prioritize storage projects that do not require new surface water rights, and the Commission should prioritize sustainable water projects.
Tim Stroshane, representing both the Environmental Water Caucus and Restore the Delta told the Commission:
“We think that so far you’re interpreting Chapter 8 of the water bond law too narrowly when it comes to project eligibility.
“Since 2011 the Commission has been hearing from agencies advocating 20th century approaches to water storage, like many of the CalFED Surface Storage Investigation projects. The task before you is to make sure California gets 21st century solutions to storage problems, which are sustainable, cost effective, and reasonable methods for using water.
“We think you also need to make sure agencies and people who submit proposals are aware of the overall water policy framework in California by describing that framework in the regulations and, especially the guidelines you draft. Our letter describes the important policies we think your commission should use.
“We urge you to avoid worsening the over-appropriation of water by prioritizing storage projects that do not require new surface water rights, particularly in the Central Valley.
“Existing consumptive surface water rights up and down the Central Valley are over five times the average runoff in the region. Approving new storage projects that need new water right claims will only worsen this situation, and further inflame water conflicts.
“We urge you to avoid approving costly storage investments that will result in poor yields. Our apparently drying climate may result in less reliable surface water storage. These funds are scarce, please grant them wisely.
“The Commission has discretion to write regulations and guidelines that prioritize sustainable and cost-effective approaches to water storage in California.
“There are better solutions than enlarging and building more dams in the state and federal water systems. Chapter 8 may say CalFED Surface Storage Investigation and conjunctive use projects are eligible.
“But the Commission must also ensure that projects it funds really solve the water problems for all of California, not just those of the state and federal water contractors, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the Department of Water Resources. You are stewards of these funds, and you must follow state water policy.
“You need to ensure that the guidelines and regulations will get the people of California real public benefits from storage projects for ecosystems, water quality, and recreation, and are not gamed or inflated to simply win funding.
“We urge the Commission to make the process of writing and approving regulations and guidelines as transparent as possible for everyone involved.
“Everyone commenting on each step of the process should have access not only to Commission documents but to the comments of everyone involved. This will encourage meaningful debate and result in a better overall product at the end of your process.”