A Water Agency Perspective: Delta Water Bills, Part IV

This is the fourth in a series of postings on conflicting perspectives about the five Delta-related water bills now under discussion in Sacramento. Today we focus on the perspective of the water community as represented by the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA).

I am not providing the opinions I’ll pass on over the next few days to validate them or my own perspective, but provide them to help you understand a few other perspectives. Each of them make some good points and miss the mark on others (in my opinion). I’ll let you decide which is which.

August 25, 2009acwalogo

ACWA Urges Action on Comprehensive Water Package
Lawmakers Asked to Develop Package that Water Community Can Support

Sacramento — Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) Executive Director Timothy Quinn today called on lawmakers to develop a legislative package that includes a strong commitment to improving both water supply reliability and ecosystem health in the Delta and establishes a governance mechanism that solves problems rather than creates barriers.

Testifying before a joint hearing of the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee and the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, Quinn said the five-bill package – with the critical addition of a finance element – provides a framework from which to negotiate a sound policy future for California water management. He noted, however, that modifications are needed to ensure the package and its proposed governance approach can meet its stated goals.

“The pre-print package falls short of advancing a governance structure that will result in the innovative planning and coordination we need to address both Delta ecosystem health and water supply reliability,” Quinn said. “Our concern is that the proposed approach will result in a powerful and inevitably large council that will defeat the original purpose of the body. Other provisions run the risk of just prolonging the gridlock that has sent both the environment and water supply into a tailspin.”

Quinn called on lawmakers to modify the governance proposal to achieve a smaller, more nimble Delta Stewardship Council that would focus on developing a plan that achieves the co-equal goals and protects the economy and the community of the Delta. The council should restrict its activities to the Delta and have the authority to require agencies to comply with the Delta plan.

He also cautioned against duplicating the decision-making process of the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan and subjecting implementation of the BDCP to additional pre-conditions and approvals beyond existing law, including the Endangered Species Act and water rights permits.

In addition to specific governance recommendations, Quinn urged the Legislature to work with the water community to advance a truly comprehensive package that includes the following:

  • A commitment to the co-equal goals of improved water supply reliability and ecosystem health.
  • A conveyance solution in the Delta.
  • Investments in additional water storage (both surface and groundwater) to be operated for the co-equal values.
  • Substantial investments in local resources development, including conservation, water recycling and groundwater management.
  • Delta governance mechanisms that solve rather than create problems.
  • A financing element that provides funding to pay for the public share of infrastructure costs and other programs consistent with the beneficiaries pay principle.

ACWA is a statewide association of public agencies whose 440 members are responsible for about 90% of the water delivered in California. For more information, contact ACWA at 916.441.4545 or visit http://www.acwa.com.

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