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The Three-Card Monte Continues: Essential JLBC Hearing for the State Water Contract Happening Tomorrow

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Restore the Delta maintains that the Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC) hearing for the State Water Contract should not be held tomorrow, September 11, 2018 for the following reasons:

1) The State Water Contract does not contain the Delta tunnels amendments; Water Code 147.5 says that the State Water Contract must provide the terms and conditions for water supply contracts. Without the Delta tunnels amendments this direction under Water Code 147.5 cannot be met and is in violation of the law. There is no legislative history on file that explains how Water Code 147.5 was created in 2012, or for what purpose. We suspect that the State Water Contractors figured, we weren’t paying attention to the creation of this water code, or the actual hearing process.

2) The JLBC backgrounder for the hearing contains misinformation provided by DWR. DWR cites an Article (1 ap) as defining water projects and ignores where water projects are actually defined Article (1 hh). Why does this matter? Because DWR did not provide the legislature the public response to Article (1 hh) provided to DWR in 2016. Public response to this “forgotten” provision reveals that BDCP (Delta tunnels) are not on the list for approved projects for funding, including bond funding. Article (1 ap) is what DWR wants from the contract extension. They are just switching up their authority to borrow money without revealing their own legal findings to the JLBC. The JLBC has been provided with a three-card monte.

3) In 2009, the LAO recommended that the State Water Project be brought under legislative review and recommended legislation that would bring the SWP into the annual legislative budget process. This has not been done, and with Oroville repair costs now at $1 billion and with hundreds of state dams needing upgrades, this should be done before a hearing is held that allows the State Water Contract to move forward.

4) The State Auditor said that there should be a detailed financial plan for the tunnels–none has been provided.

5) The State Auditor said there must be a cost-benefit analysis–it has only been completed for one tunnel.

6) DWR’s attorney Tripp Mizell recently told the State Water Board that federal certification of the final EIR/S may not happen until early December. Environmental certification must be completed according to Water Code 85089 before contracts are finished to pay for environmental review and mitigation. This cannot be done without a final EIR/S.

7) Food and Water Watch filed a lawsuit on 9/7/18 against Metropolitan Water District on behalf of Southern California water ratepayers. MWD’s financing violates the taxpayer protection provisions of California’s Constitution, enacted by voters in Propositions 26 and 13. MWD’s decision to pay for most of the massive tunnels project, while receiving only part of the project’s water, would result in its ratepayers unconstitutionally subsidizing out-of-district water users, including corporate agribusiness in Kern County, Stewart Resnick’s empire.

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