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Environmental Wackos With A Plan

The truth is that they are smart and probably five steps ahead of the rest of us.

Feb 21, 2011


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FEBRUARY 21 2011

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Denis Prosperi
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Environmental Wackos With A Plan
We love to call them environmental wackos.  The truth is that they are smart and probably five steps ahead of the rest of us.  Take the story below.  It looks like just another story about some water districts and a simple transfer of water.  But, to astute water observers it is much more.  It is a story about the Water Bond, the peripheral canal, the NRDC, the Westside of the San Joaquin Valley, the pumps and the Delta. 
When the Water Bond was first agreed to by environmentalists, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and farm groups, environmentalists had the upper hand.  They had about 1/3 in the bond for environmental projects that were 'for sure' deals.  There was other money for infrastructure, but none of it was guaranteed for any future water supply projects.  And, there was a lot of other pork.  To the environmental community, this wasn't all good.  They didn't like the idea of constructing dams or a peripheral canal.  So they had three plans.  Plan A was the possibility that the bond wouldn't pass.  Plan B was that it would pass, but they could fight what they didn't like in court.  And, as another back-up plan, Plan C, they had the lawsuit mentioned in the article below(filed 3-weeks after the motion to put the bond proposition on the November 2010 ballot was passed in the California State Senate and State Assembly). 
Environmental groups are smart enough to not take on everyone at once.  They fight a battle here, and they fight a battle there.  If they took on everyone at once, they would lose.  So, while they fight one battle, other water users are just happy it isn't them, and they think they can work it out politically, or just put off the inevitable.   
So, while the enviros take on Klamath, no one speaks out.  Then the take on the Westside and no one speaks out.  Then they take on the San Joaquin River and no one speaks out.  Then they take on the pumps and no one speaks out.  Now they take on the Northern water districts and there are very few left to speak out. 
Right after the Water Bond was agreed upon in November 2009, the NRDC filed the lawsuit mentioned in the article below.  This is environmental strategy Plan C mentioned above.  If by some chance the Water Bond were to pass, and along with some help from Jerry Brown, a peripheral canal were to be planned, the enviros want to make sure there is no Northern water to ship through the canal to the South. 

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Willows Journal

Suit Convinces Area Districts To Pull Out Of Water Transfer

Rick Longley/Tri-County Newspapers

County concerns about a proposed water transfer program have been put on hold for now.

Supervisor Leigh McDaniel reported Tuesday a suggested long-term transfer of water to benefit the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority “almost corrected itself in a strange way,” he said.

As of Feb. 2, the individual water districts intending to be part of the transfer program withdrew their participation, McDaniel said

Local districts withdrawing from the program include the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, Maxwell Irrigation District, Princeton-Codora-Glenn Irrigation District, Provident Irrigation District and Reclamation District 108.

This is the result of pending litigation in federal court, he said, from an environmental group seeking to change allotment policies for various water entities.

As a result, Sacramento River Settlement Contractors are concerned about protecting their annual water allotments, he added, which could be lost if this suit succeeds.

These contractors have had a base rate guarantee in the past, McDaniel said, but there is a possibility those protections could be eliminated by the suit - making it unfeasible to join the proposed water transfer program since they might not have water to sell - particularly in drought years.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation reportedly proposed the transfer, according to Glenn County Water Coordinator Lester Messina.

However, water districts believe it is irresponsible for them to participate in it, the supervisor said, as they could lose their rights because there is no long-range certainty water allotments can be sustained.

In a letter to Bureau of Reclamation Regional Director Donald R. Glaser in Sacramento, district representatives said the Settlement Contractors dispute federal assertions their contracts allow the Bureau of Reclamation to reduce their water quantities, except in “Shasta Critical Years” in which the base supply and project water can be reduced by 25 percent.

Federal officials have suggested SRS contracts are indistinguishable from project water under the Central Valley contracts, the district’s letter said.

No action was taken by the Glenn County supervisors Tuesday since the plan was destabilized for now.

However, McDaniel plans an on March 1 when the supervisors host a water workshop.

The workshop will spend two hours looking at water issues and policies that affect Glenn County. “It will give the board a state of the water policy of what is influencing the county now and in the future,” he said.

Messina said Thursday the lawsuit by the Natural Resource Defense Council and the water transfer proposal are two separate issues. But the council’s challenge of Central Valley water contracts is impacting the transfer matter.               

The proposed water transfers were to run between 2012 and 2022 to purchasers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the San Francisco Bay area.

Water transfers would occur through such methods as groundwater substitution and crop land idling, a report on the project said, with the Department of Reclamation and California Department of Water Resources approving them within their respective jurisdictions.

Environmental impact reports on the proposal were to be prepared and water flows studied.

However, North State counties and growers remain concerned about protecting their water resources.

The plan also brought protests from a number of people at meetings in Chico earlier this year, Messina said.
McDaniel said state officials continue to talk about the restoration of the Delta but are not addressing local water rights.

“We are working to keep our water north,” Supervisor John Viegas said. “We have been talking with legislators.”

Viegas serves on the California State Association of Counties, and it has discussed the issue with state representatives, he said.


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