Bills won't improve water reliability, organizations say

Issue Date: September 2, 2009

A package of water-related bills introduced in the state Legislature would "impede California's ability to meet water supply reliability" goals, according to a group of 42 agricultural, water and business organizations.

The organizations signed a letter to the legislative sponsors of the five-bill package, which has been undergoing hearings at the state Capitol. The bills focus on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

In their letter, the agricultural and water organizations agreed that the delta "faces an immediate crisis." But, they added, "without a reliable water supply that supports and sustains a recovering economy there is no capacity to invest in the environment."

The groups urged legislators to identify both water supply reliability and the delta ecosystem as goals.

The letter also proposes that programs and projects to construct new storage and improve conveyance be included to make the bill package a comprehensive approach to dealing with California's water needs, and subject only to findings that water supply reliability will be provided for and that the ecosystem will be enhanced.

The agricultural and water organizations also warned about what they considered the creation of "overlapping and duplicative" layers of regulation in the proposed legislation, and about "new legislative mandates" that the bills would add to the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan. Known as the BDCP, the plan aims to find strategies to improve the delta's health while identifying "ecologically friendly" means of water conveyance.

"The delta legislative package should facilitate rather than hinder collaborative efforts to solve delta issues under existing federal and state environmental statutes," the letter said.

The groups also said that public funding must complement investments by water agencies in water system and ecosystem improvements.

Agricultural organizations signing the letter included the California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers, California Cattlemen's Association, California Citrus Mutual, California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association, California Farm Bureau Federation, California Grain and Feed Association, California League of Food Processors, California Rice Commission, California Seed Association, California Warehouse Association, Nisei Farmers League, Western Agricultural Processors Association, Western Growers and Western Plant Health Association.

Business groups including the California Chamber of Commerce and the Irrigation Association also signed the letter, as did a number of water districts and water organizations such as the Association of California Water Agencies, Northern California Water Association, State Water Contractors and Valley Ag Water Coalition.

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.