THIS JUST IN … Statements from Restore the Delta and Food and Water Watch, Delta Counties Coalition in response to Joint Legislative Budget Committee Hearing

DWR Director Karla Nemeth verbally commits to bring back future SWP contract amendments related to the tunnels project back to the legislature for further review

From Restore the Delta and Food and Water Watch:

Today the Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC) held an informational hearing to discuss the State Water Project (SWP) contract extensions. JLBC Chair Senator Holly Mitchell (D-30, Los Angeles) stated at the start and at the end of the hearing that the legislature would be fully committed to further legislative oversight of the Delta tunnels project, also known as California WaterFix (CA WaterFix).

At the hearing, Director of the Department of Water Resources (DWR), Karla Nemeth, verbally committed to the JLBC that amendments before the legislature today would not be used to finance bonds for the Delta tunnels and that DWR would bring future SWP contract amendments related to the tunnels project back to the legislature for further review before finalization.

Originally, the hearing was slated to take place last August, but was postponed twice in response to public outcry.  Members of the public, legislators, and environmental and public trust NGO’s feared that the hearing would eliminate any further legislative oversight for the Delta tunnels, implying approval of as-yet unfinished amendments to State Water Project contracts related to the tunnels.

Senior Organizer for Food and Water Watch Brenna Norton commented,
“We thank Senator Holly Mitchell, Senate President Toni Atkins, and other members of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee for making the Department of Water Resources bring back the final amendments and costs to the legislature before rate hikes can be foisted on Californians to pay for the Delta tunnels. Californians are counting on these legislators to follow through on their commitment ,  otherwise, they will be hampered with a $17 billion bill for a wasteful project that will not bring them any new water.”

Executive Director of Restore the Delta, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla said,
“We are deeply grateful and impressed by the way Senator Mitchell conducted the JLBC hearing today, and are heartened that she resonated with the public’s comments and concerns regarding their distrust in DWR and the State Water Contractors. As the State Water Project contract extensions move forward, in order to support the public trust and transparency, DWR must clearly state in writing that the Department agrees to notify the legislature and appropriate committees 60 days prior to DWR starting the bond-issuing process, participate in a well-noticed public hearing for continued oversight of the CA WaterFix amendments, and must present a financial plan of the CA WaterFix for review.”

Delta Counties call for more transparency and oversight of twin tunnels project

From the Delta Counties Coalition:

Supervisor Don Nottoli, speaking on behalf of the Delta Counties Coalition (DCC), delivered the following comments to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC) on proposed contract amendments making possible long-term financing for the twin tunnels project known as “California WaterFix.”

“There is no question that the proposed contract amendments facilitate the future financing and construction of California WaterFix. Before these contracts are extended for another 50 years, and subsequently financing for at least $20 billion to construct the tunnels is given the green light, this committee and all Californians should have a clear understanding of just what these and other pending amendments will provide for.

“The Delta Counties Coalition respectfully requests that the Legislature require that the Department of Water Resources (DWR) present to this committee and the public, the entirety of the pending State Water Contract amendments related to the proposed extensions and California WaterFix. We also suggest that the committee require that DWR produce a viable, transparent and complete financing plan, along with a true cost-benefit analysis in accordance with its own guidelines.

“It is clear from the testimony today that without these contract amendments financing for CA WaterFix is in serious doubt. This informational hearing has given the Legislature and this body an opportunity to make its voice heard on an issue, which will have long-lasting and negative effects on the Delta region. Delta communities will experience permanent environmental damage, endure the loss of agricultural land and businesses, and the destruction of a way of life if the tunnels project proceeds.

“We ask that this committee require a full and transparent examination of long-term water contract amendments so that additional hearings and review can be conducted by the Legislature and vetted through the next Administration in 2019.”

The DCC is an alliance of the counties of Contra Costa, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano and Yolo. The DCC advocates for protecting the interests of the Delta and California’s water supply and has produced a set of approaches that will achieve balance for the economic and environmental health of the Delta while also improving water supply stability.

For more information regarding the DCC and its ideas for fixing California’s water issues, please visit sharedwatersolutions.com.

FOR MORE INFORMATION …

 

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