News Worth Noting: Assemblymember Eggman introduces legislation to force vote on tunnels; Senator Wolk’s levee bill moves forward; Notice of proposed emergency rulemaking for water conservation reg; Draft graft funding list for counties with stressed basins

Eggman Introduces New Law to Force Statewide Vote on Governor Brown’s Twin Tunnels Project

From the office of Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman:

Susan EggmanAssemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman announced today that she is introducing legislation to block the Governor’s controversial Twin Tunnels project unless it is approved by the voters of California on a statewide ballot.

“An enormous amount of time and energy has been wasted rebranding and repackaging the same old Peripheral Canal plan that voters rejected decades ago,” Eggman said. “It’s tragic that despite our ongoing drought, this flawed plan is being forced on us without any true debate even though it will not add one drop of water to California’s supply, but it will raise the water rates and potentially property taxes of millions of Californians.”

The bill will require approval via ballot initiative for any infrastructure project that conveys water directly from a diversion point in the Sacramento River to pumping facilities of the State Water Project or the federal Central Valley Project south of the Delta.

“In 2012, the Governor was committed to asking the voters to approve a substantial tax increase.  I’m hopeful he will be just as committed to seeking voter approval before embarking on a project that will cost tens of billions of dollars and greatly impact the Delta region,” Eggman said.

Senator Lois Wolk, who has represented the Delta region in the State Legislature for 13 years, and who is a recognized leader on state water policy issues, added:

“California’s taxpayers and ratepayers should have the opportunity to weigh in on whether to commit billions of dollars to a project that economists say isn’t a good investment, scientists say is a disaster for the Delta’s ecosystem, and the water exporters’ own studies show will not produce a single drop of new water supply. “The proposed tunnels are the most expensive, most controversial water project proposed in half a century with the potential to permanently destroy the Delta’s ecosystem and community. Californians have the right to look at the facts and decide whether the tunnels are good for California, or whether we should drop this plan once and for all.”

The latest iteration of the Peripheral Canal was rebranded as the “California Water Fix” over the summer after the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, as it was previously known, failed to meet environmental standards required to obtain the necessary permits. By the administration’s own changing estimates, the project would cost at least $15 billion to $25 billion.  The new plan has so far received a failing grade by the US Environmental Protection Agency, who called the new environmental impact report “inadequate”.

Joining Assemblymember Eggman and Senator Wolk are the following co-authors:

Assemblymember Catharine Baker, Assemblymember Susan Bonilla, Assemblymember Jim Cooper, Assemblymember Jim Frazier and Assemblymember Kevin McCarty

Wolk levee bill to protect lives, farmland, and drinking water in Delta moves forward

From the Office of Senator Lois Wolk:

Wolk“On a unanimous, bipartisan vote yesterday the State Senate’s key fiscal committee passed legislation by Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis) to make permanent the current Delta Levee Subventions program, which authorizes the state to reimburse local governments for up to 75 percent of the maintenance and improvement costs for levees in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

The Senate’s Appropriations Committee voted 7-0 to approve Wolk’s Senate Bill 554, which would eliminate a July 1, 2018, sunset for the existing reimbursement program.

“Delta levees protect lives, drinking water supplies for millions of Californians, fertile farmland, and a rich estuary ecosystem. The importance of the resources these levees protect, and the dire financial condition of most local flood control agencies, makes the existing cost share absolutely necessary,” said Wolk, who has authored multiple bills to extend the existing cost-sharing formula. “The Delta Levee Subventions Program has been one of the most effective programs for maintaining and repairing Delta levees, and it’s time we make it permanent.”

The state’s Delta Levee Subventions Program, which supports local agency efforts to maintain and improve their levees, has received state support of up to 75 percent in cost sharing for local levee projects in the Delta since 1996.  Without SB 554, the state’s reimbursements would drop to 50 percent on July 1, 2018.

The program’s success is widely acknowledged.  In 2010, a publication by the Public Policy Institute of California said “The Delta Levee Subventions Program, in particular, has significantly reduced levee failures and is the most important state investments in the Delta levees today.”

SB 554 is being sponsored by the California Central Valley Flood Control Association, which represents more than seventy local flood control agencies in the Central Valley and Delta and works to maintain effective flood control systems in California’s Central Valley for the protection of life, property and the environment.

Melinda Terry, CCVFCA’s Executive Director, praised passage of Senator Wolk’s SB 554.

“The Association is pleased that the State Legislature has recognized that the substantial reduction in Delta levee failures since implementation of the Delta Levee Subventions programis evidence that it’s time to make this program, the biggest success in the Delta, permanent,” Terry said.

SB 554 is also supported by the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors and San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors.  The bill, which has received unanimous, bipartisan support in each of its hearings, will next be heard by the full State Senate.

State Water Board releases Notice of Proposed Emergency Rulemaking for water conservation regulation

From the State Water Resources Control Board:

SWRCB logo water boardsThe Notice of Proposed Emergency Rulemaking and the Emergency Regulation Digest for the Proposed Emergency Regulation that will be considered by the State Water Board at its February 2, 2016 meeting, along with supporting documents, have been posted online at http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights/water_issues/programs/drought/emergency_mandatory_regulations.shtml.  The Notice of Proposed Emergency Rulemaking formally initiates the emergency rulemaking process pursuant to the Government Code; this Notice does not change the previously identified comment period that will conclude on January 28, 2016 at 12 noon.  All comments must be received by 12 noon on Thursday, January, 28, 2016, and will not be accepted after that time.

During the Board’s identified comment period, written comments must be received by12 noon on Thursday, January 28, 2016 and addressed to:

Jeanine Townsend, Clerk to the Board
State Water Resources Control Board
1001 I Street, 24th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814

Comment letters may be submitted electronically in pdf text format (less than 15 megabytes in total size) to the Clerk of the Board via e-mail at commentletters@waterboards.ca.gov.  If the file is greater than 15 megabytes in total size, then the comment letter may be submitted by fax at (916) 341-5620.  All comments should indicate on the subject line: “2/2/16 Board Meeting – Item 7 (Conservation Extended Emergency Regulation).”

Department of Water Resources releases draft funding recommendations for counties with stressed basins

From the Department of Water Resources:

NEW_DWR_LOGO_14inchDWR has announced the release of the Draft Funding Recommendations to award 21 proposals, totaling approximately $6.7 million, for the 2015 Counties with Stressed Basins Grant Solicitation under Proposition 1 Sustainable Groundwater Planning Grant Program. On December 8, 2015, DWR received 23 grant applications requesting a total of approximately $7 million, with total project costs of $12.7 million  This release of the Draft Recommendations opens the public comment period. The public comment period will close on February 8, 2016 at 5:00 PM.

Information on Funding Recommendations, Proposal Evaluations, and instructions for submitting comments can be viewed and downloaded at: http://www.water.ca.gov/irwm/grants/sgwp/solicitation.cfm.

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About News Worth Noting:  News Worth Noting is a collection of press releases, media statements, and other materials produced by federal, state, and local government agencies, water agencies, and academic institutions, as well as non-profit and advocacy organizations.  News Worth Noting also includes relevant legislator statements and environmental policy and legal analyses that are publicly released by law firms.  If your agency or organization has an item you would like included here, please email it to Maven.

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