NEWS WORTH NOTING: Frazier: State Water Project contract amendments a bad deal for taxpayers; Valley Congressmen continue fighting the water grab; Feinstein: Senate funding bill ‘big win for California’

Assemblyman Jim Frazier: State Water Project Contract Amendments A Bad Deal for Taxpayers

Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay), chair of the Legislature’s Delta Caucus, released the following statement today concerning the Joint Legislative Budget Committee’s Hearing on proposals to extend the State Water Project contracts.

“We must have a complete picture of the financial, economic and environmental impacts the state water project contract extensions will have. Not just today but for years to come. That information has not yet been provided. I have deep concerns about extending the expiration date of all of the contracts until December 31, 2085 – a 67-year extension which DWR could not adequately justify. The amendments also create a support fund which appears to hold the state responsible for unspecified expenditures not chargeable to the contractors, putting taxpayers on the hook for indeterminate future costs. Finally, under the terms of the contract extension, DWR would be able to hide the full costs of the damaging WaterFix proposal from ratepayers through financial manipulation that could treat the disruptive tunnels like a routine maintenance or repair project.”

Assemblymember Frazier represents the 11th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Antioch, Bethel Island, Birds Landing, Brentwood, Byron, Collinsville, Discovery Bay, Fairfield, Isleton, Knightsen, Locke, Oakley, Pittsburg (partial), Rio Vista, Suisun City, Travis AFB, Vacaville and Walnut Grove.

Valley Congressmen Costa, Denham, and McClintock Continue Fighting the Water Grab

From the Office of Congressman Jim Costa:

Valley Congressmen Jim Costa (D-CA-16), Jeff Denham (R-CA-10), and Tom McClintock (R-CA-4) continue their fight to protect San Joaquin Valley water from the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) “Water Grab.”

“I will use every option I have to fight the Water Grab,” Costa said. “This is about fighting bad science used to justify taking water from one region of California. This is about the future of the Valley and protecting our way of life.”

“Sacramento’s water grab is in violation of federal law,” Denham said. “We will not allow them to take our water; the future of the Valley depends on it.”

“The proposal to regularly drain our reservoirs for the sole purpose of dumping water into the ocean is lunacy,” McClintock said. “Common sense will prevail.”

This week, the Congressmen sent a joint message to the Acting Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), urging him to enforce the requirement in the Clean Water Act that water quality criteria be supported by “rigorous, sound science.” The EPA has notified the Board that the science supporting Phase I of the Water Quality Control Plan for the Bay-Delta (WQCP) is deficient.

This is just the latest action by the Valley Congressmen, who have been working in a bipartisan fashion to help protect Valley water.

Last month, the members sent a strong message to the Chair of California’s State Water Resources Control Board, Felicia Marcus, stating they would intervene if the Board took action that interfered with water projects or processes managed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, including the Central Valley Project, the New Melones Dam, and the water rights permits for the State Water Project.

Last week, the members called on U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to prioritize a provision in this year’s Department of Interior appropriations bill that will prevent federal dollars from being used to implement the WQCP. Congressmen Denham and Costa spearheaded the provision in the House’s version of the spending bill, which passed the House on July 18th.

Feinstein: Senate Funding Bill ‘Big Win for California’

From the Office of Senator Feinstein:

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), ranking member of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, today announced Senate passage of the 2019 Energy and Water Development, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Legislative Branch appropriations bills.

“This first government funding bill for FY 2019 is a big win for California. It makes important investments in veterans, water infrastructure, drought prevention, earthquake preparedness and clean energy alternatives to help combat climate change,” Feinstein said.

“Once enacted, this bill will mark the first time Congress has passed the Energy and Water appropriations bill before the start of the fiscal year since 1999. By returning to regular order and stripping out harmful policy riders, we were able to get this bill done.”

California Water

The funding bill included a number of policy priorities that will help California.

“This is the third year in a row that California will benefit from additional drought funding we secured under the WIIN Act, increasing total federal funding for drought resiliency in California and other Western states to more than $500 million over the past three years,” Feinstein said.

“This increased funding will allow the federal government to match our state’s efforts through Proposition 1 to finally build new projects to store more water from the wet years for the dry years. This is particularly important as climate change continues to increase the frequency and severity of droughts.

“California needs to invest more our water conservation, recycling and storage, and we need to increase our use of ocean water, which means we need better desalination technology. This bill will help get us closer to those goals.”

The bill:

  • Provides an additional $196 million to fund California and Western drought programs under the WIIN Act, including $134 million for water storage, $20 million for water recycling, $12 million for desalination and $30 million for environment and science projects.
  • Provides $540 million for Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation water infrastructure programs specifically in California.
  • Provides $34 million for WaterSMART grants and almost $59 million for the Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse program.
  • Increases funding for desalination research and development by almost 35 percent.
  • Provides $35 million for the San Joaquin River Restoration project.
  • Requires an independent risk analysis of Oroville Dam and an extensive review of all federal dam safety practices.
  • Provides $8 million, a 45 percent increase from last year, for improved research, monitoring, and forecasting of atmospheric river storms, which contribute an increasingly large share of California’s annual rainfall.
California Veterans

The package of funding bills also includes additional federal dollars to help veterans.

“This bill helps address one of the biggest issues facing California veterans: homelessness,” Feinstein said. “The 2018 Point-in-Time Count identified nearly 4,000 homeless veterans living in Los Angeles County alone, a 75 percent increase over the last six years. Our bill will help veterans throughout California find the shelter and care they need.

“Additionally, this bill makes a new $1.15 billion investment to help ensure that VA facilities are ready to withstand an earthquake. It’s a question of when, not if, a major earthquake strikes California, and I’m pleased we secured resources to seismically retrofit VA facilities throughout the state.”

The bill:

  • Includes new language prioritizing veteran homelessness in Los Angeles and directs the VA to work more closely with local non-profit groups to ensure that homeless veterans are receiving the services they need.
  • Requires the VA to address the lack of affordable housing on veteran homelessness, particularly in high cost urban areas.
  • Provides $867.5 million for military construction projects in California.
  • Provides $1.15 billion for a new VA seismic safety initiative to address VA’s highest priority facilities in need of seismic repairs and upgrades. The department has identified needed seismic upgrades at VA facilities in West Los Angeles, San Francisco and Menlo Park that could be funded under this new initiative.

Additional projects

  • California Ports: The bill provides $50 million for ports like Los Angeles and Long Beach that get shortchanged by the current disbursement formula of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund.
  • Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Programs: The bill provides $2.4 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. This funding supports sustainable transportation programs that develop new fuels, lightweight materials, and vehicle engines; energy efficiency programs that develop standards and technologies to reduce energy bills; and renewable energy programs that work to lower the cost of solar, wind, geothermal, and water power technologies.
  • Basic Scientific Research: The bill provides $6.6 billion for the Office of Science, $365 million more than last year. Nearly all Office of Science programs see significant increases, and the bill fully funds the requested operational levels of scientific facilities at the national laboratories.
  • Environmental Cleanup: The bill provides nearly $7.2 billion for cleanup of Cold War and other nuclear sites. This program addresses a legacy of radioactive and hazardous contamination at sites across the country and the bill addresses many of the highest environmental risks posed by these sites.

 

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