Wednesday, August 13, 2014

News articles and links from August 13, 2014

Water Bond

From: Steve Evans, Modesto Bee

In November, California voters will be asked how much money they want to borrow to improve the state's water infrastructure and fight the drought. Because polls show an $11.1 billion general obligation bond on the Nov. 4 ballot is too expensive for many voters, legislators are scrambling to revise the water bond to make it more palatable.
Along with the total amount, another point of contention is how much is allotted to building new and enlarging existing surface storage dams. The current bond and the $8.7 billion version proposed by Senate Republicans include $3 billion for new and bigger dams, but Gov. Jerry Brown's $6 billion proposal whittles this down to $2 billion. A coalition of environmental groups allocates $1 billion for surface storage in its $6 billion plan.
Coalition response... Contrary to Evans' repetition of antiquated view of water storage dams, for more than fifty years environmental interests have benefited from the many advantages that our past investments in surface storage provide to our managed waterways. Reservoirs have enabled us to meet the needs of fisheries, wetlands, and meet other environmental water issues while seeking to meet the needs of our cities, businesses and farms. 

We only have to look at where water in our rivers is coming from in the middle of this year's hot summer. It's not natural flow. The water we see supporting wildlife resources in our rivers and the Delta is coming from previously built upstream storage - storage that was built specifically for the purpose of providing water during a time of the year when nature can't.

Thankfully the legislature isn't falling for obstructionist rhetoric this time and is taking seriously the need to build new storage projects for California's growing economy. Wise investments will pay off down the road as previous ones are now. 

Water Bond 

From: Sharon Bernstein, Reuters

California Democrats scrambled on Tuesday to win Republican support for a plan to improve water supplies that has been mired in regional and party politics for a year, even as the state suffers from a three-year drought that shows no sign of ending.

A day after voting for a two-day extension to put a proposal on November's ballot to pay for reservoirs and other projects by selling bonds, Democratic lawmakers enlisted the support and negotiating clout of Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, a fiscal moderate who said previous plans were too expensive.

From: Fenit NIrappil, Associated Press

Pressed by a deadline and California's severe drought, state lawmakers are scheduled to vote Wednesday on a measure that would swap out an existing water bond on the November ballot and authorize billions in borrowing to pay for new reservoirs, groundwater cleanup and habitat restoration.

On Tuesday, lawmakers were negotiating what they hoped would be a final agreement with Gov. Jerry Brown for a plan that would boost the state's water supply while protecting the environment. The governor and Democratic legislative leaders had agreed on a $7.2 billion package to replace the existing, $11.1 billion bond, but Republican lawmakers were pressing for more money for water storage.

From: Dan Walters, Sacramento Bee

Chances are that sometime Wednesday the Legislature will place a new water bond issue on the Nov. 4 ballot. But it's not certain, because as of late Tuesday, not all Democratic legislators had signed onto a $7.2 billion plan and it still lacked votes it needs from Republicans even if all Democrats were aboard. 

From: Jessica Calefati, San Jose Mercury News

Powerful voices in California's water wars pledged their support Tuesday for a $7 billion state water bond that lawmakers must pass before Wednesday's midnight deadline if they hope to see it on the November ballot.

The California Farm Bureau Federation and Los Angeles County's Metropolitan Water District had hoped for at least $3 billion in the bond for construction of dams, reservoirs and other storage projects.

From: Staff, Modesto Bee

The state's water bond will turn into a rotten pumpkin if no deal is reached by Thursday's already extended deadline. But legislators from the Northern San Joaquin Valley might just be wearing glass slippers, if you'll forgive the fairytale metaphor.

Our state desperately needs a water bond, but with urban Democrats squabbling, our legislators have a chance to protect our region's water security.

From: Staff, Long Beach Press Telegram

Like Goldilocks tasting the bowls of purloined porridge, California voters have been looking for a water bond that is not too dear, and not too cheap, but just right.

If our Legislature has waited until not only the last minute - that was Monday - but created a new last minute, which is Wednesday, to finalize the language and thus the proposed scale of spending on a crucial water bond during this third year of statewide drought, well, what else is new? Legislative leaders were able to push the deadline for printing the argument for such a bond on millions of sample ballots by 48 hours, and if it results in a bond measure with the number of billions of dollars voters will approve and an appropriate scope of work that will aid in drought relief, so be it.

Water Supply

From: Staff, Daily Mail - U.K.

Once-teeming Lake Mead marinas are idle as a 14-year drought steadily drops water levels to historic lows. Officials from nearby Las Vegas are pushing conservation, but are also drilling a new pipeline to keep drawing water from the lake.

Hundreds of miles away, farmers who receive water from the lake behind Hoover Dam are preparing for the worst. 

From: Alex Breitler, Stockton Record

Delta farmers have quietly sipped from rivers and sloughs for generations, but they face increasing pressure this drought year from outside interests who argue those water diversions are - or may be - illegal.

State and federal officials late last month asked regulators to use their emergency powers to demand information from more than 1,000 of those farmers as to how much water they're using.

From: Bill Jennings & Jerry Meral, Sacramento Bee

People who follow California's water wars may wonder whether experts who disagree on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan ever agree on anything at all. The answer is yes. We agree it's time to protect 37 miles of the Central Sierra's Mokelumne River as a state Wild and Scenic River.

Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Oakland, introduced the legislation to protect the river, Senate Bill 1199, which is now in the state Assembly. The legislation would bar new dams and diversions on 37 miles of the "Moke" between Salt Springs Dam and Pardee Reservoir and protect the river's water quality. It has no relationship to the larger water fights in the state but should be judged on its own merits.


From: Staff, Associated Press

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell agreed to an impromptu meeting with salmon advocates demanding more water for salmon in Northern California's Klamath and Trinity rivers.

After the Tuesday meeting in Redding, California, salmon advocate Regina Chichizola said Jewell agreed to send someone to assess the situation, but made no promises.

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