Reaction to the Water Deal

Reaction to the water deal that was approved over the last few days, first by the Senate and then by the Assembly, has been trickling in. If you care to listen to an hour-long program, I recommend the KQED Forum program embedded here.

There was some question as to what the federal response to the measure would be. And, well, apparently Sec. of the Interior Ken Salazar is on board:

Thanks to the California legislature and Governor Schwarzenegger, Californians now have the opportunity to choose a more secure and sustainable water future.  This landmark package is a critical step toward bringing California’s water infrastructure into the 21st century while restoring California’s Bay Delta, on which millions of Californians depend for clean drinking water and their livelihoods.  I applaud the leadership, courage, and vision of everyone who helped bring this desperately-needed legislation across the finish line.  We will continue to need all hands on deck – at the federal, state, and local levels – in the coming months as we face the possibility of a fourth year of drought and sobering water realities.

And as for DiFi, who has long been close to the Westlands Water District, well, her reaction wasn’t such a mystery.

It should be clear to all of us that the current water infrastructure is inadequate to support California’s growing population and businesses that depend on clean water. This includes people in our cities, the high-tech sector, fisheries, tourism, and of course, our State’s multibillion-dollar agricultural sector. So, this package is really critical to all Californians.

I urge all Californians to support the bond issue. It must be said once more that California has a water infrastructure built for a population of 16 million people. Today, our population is rapidly approaching the 40 million mark. So, the modernization and improvement of our State’s water infrastructure is long overdue.

Meanwhile, on the other side of this, you have a growing crowd of organized labor, including the United Farmworkers Union, the California Teachers Association, and the SEIU State Council. They all have slightly different concerns, but at the heart of it is the financing. They are concerned that the debt service will start devouring the budget, and at an estimated 10% of the budget, that is a reasonable concern.

As others have noted, this package opens the door wide open for a peripheral canal.  Whether you think that is a good thing appears to depend on your perspective, with the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District (SRCSD) pounding on this issue.

There’s a long time between now and November 2010, but we will be hearing a lot about this bond by the time we go to the polls.

8 thoughts on “Reaction to the Water Deal”




    • Water packages deal blow to collapsing fishing industry, others that rely on healthy Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta
    • Backgrounder, B-Roll, Images Available at

     Zeke Grader, Executive Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman’s Associations:  
    "The Bay-Delta is not a reservoir; it is the most important estuary on the West coast and gives life to many of our coastal fisheries. With this bill, the health of the delta and our fisheries lies with an unfunded council with no authority. The majority of its members will be appointed by the governor, and Schwarzenegger has made it clear he is willing to drain the delta if it means more water for land speculators and developers. We have little faith this council will support and act on the pressing needs of our delta and our fisheries, especially if it means putting a halt to the south's attempts at a water grab. This back-room, special-interest bill is fishy for sure, but definitely not because it will restore our industry to its former health."  
    Larry Collins, President of the San Francisco Crab Boat Owners Association:  
    "After months of special interests distorting the facts about our water woes, the legislature went behind closed doors and came up with this stinking dead fish of a package that is sure to continue draining the delta and killing what is left of our salmon fishery. This bill was introduced to protect the delta, but that’s just a smokescreen; it undermines current protections and creates new layers of bureaucracy. The simple fact is that this legislation will cause the delta to collapse and turn the San Francisco Bay estuary into a cesspool, undoing decades of work to restore the Bay to good health. Westlands Water District, private land developers, and the Governor all deserve a special place in hell for engineering the destruction of Northern California’s ecosystems.  
    Fifteen years ago there were 5,000 salmon boats; now there are 500. We had a chance to reverse that trend, but land development special interests won out with this bill. What will we call Fishermen’s Wharf when the last fishing boat is sold for scrap? This legislation should have died but instead the final nail was put in our industry’s coffin."  
    Zeke Grader on AB13x7 / Peripheral Canal:  
    "Destroying the Bay-Delta, as a peripheral canal and new diversions would do, makes the sheer environmental destruction of Hetch Hetchy pale in comparison. Bigger than the Panama Canal, it would suck water away from Northern California and ensure our rivers go dry and fisheries remain closed. The people who rely on this water need a voice in this process. We just watched the major water bills get negotiated in back-room deals, and AB13x7 ensures that special interests can’t sneak this disastrous project though.  
    Salmon Water Now! is a coalition that raises public awareness of the plight of wild California salmon, and the communities dependent on healthy freshwater delta flows, by creating and distributing videos, podcasts, and other resources.

  2. “Instead of insisting on reducing reliance on unstable Delta water, the package continues the status quo of unsustainable pumping that will further devastate the fishery and lead to more litigation.

    Instead of holding people accountable when they illegally divert water, the package makes it harder for state agencies to enforce the law.

    Instead of asking the beneficiaries to pay for new water projects, this package relies on more borrowing and for the first time ever allows taxpayer subsidies for new destructive dams that will cripple our environment and our economy.”

    Read the entire release here.

  3. The Democrats negotiate a bad deal with the Republicans, the public votes it down, and it gets replaced by something worse — the water equivalent of the July budget deal.  I hope I’m wrong, but . . . .

  4. No argument that the Delta is in crisis. No doubt the breadbasket of America needs help.

    But there is also little question that building a bigger infrastructure that just props up 100-year-old solutions is not the way to go. Things have changed. The climate has changed. We know more about the consequences of some of these traditional “solutions.” And these bills don’t reflect any of that.

    Because, as speaker Bass says, we have the time to educate people about this package, we need to be very clear about why we oppose it. About what we expect as a better solution. And that heads will roll if we don’t get it.

    I don’t know about all of you, but I am tired of big business running the statehouse for their own short-sighted gain. They will destroy the state and walk away from it. Those of us who call it home should stand up and protest being used like a dirty tissue.

  5. I practically thought I’d read next that black helicopters would be coming in the middle of the night to secretly ferry water to those devious farmers and So Cal car wash moguls !  The ideas in the bills were hashed out thru months and months of informational hearings, negotiations with a large group of senators and assemblymemebers appointed by the speaker, pro tem, and Rep leaders of both houses.  

    Really, enough with the antics.  Give me some reasons you think the Governor wants to drain the Delta and dry up the rivers, that’s ridiculous.

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