REACTIONS (UPDATED) from agencies, legislators, and organizations to Governor Newsom’s announcements on Cal Water Fix, New State Water Board Chair

Plus a wrap-up of media coverage of today’s events

In Governor Newsom’s State of the State address earlier today, he expressed his support for a single-tunnel option and named Joaquin Esquivel to be the new Chair of the State Water Board.

Here are reactions from organizations and legislators, in alphabetical order; news coverage follows.  (I will update this post this afternoon as more reactions and news stories come in.)

From Congressman Jim Costa:

“The Governor today, in his State of the State address, outlined a new direction for California. His priorities for water and transportation will provide a fresh look, and I hope new opportunities.

“Attempting to purse a more centrist approach to creating water sustainability in California is the key.

“On high-speed rail, his proposal to change the plan, though more modest, will still benefit the Valley. I do not believe these changes foreclose a future HSR system for California.

“I want to work with him on both of these important projects as well as other issues that are important to the Valley, such as clean drinking water and healthcare.”

From Wade Crowfoot, Secretary of Natural Resources

“Building a climate-resilient water supply requires a portfolio approach. As Governor Newsom said today, it can’t be either / or. We need to advance a conveyance solution along with stronger conservation and efficiency, expanded water recycling, intensified groundwater recharge and multi-benefit floodplains. Modernized, safe conveyance is critical to California’s future, but it is only one piece of the puzzle.”

From Senator Bill Dodd:

Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, issued the following statement today in response to Gov. Newsom’s inaugural State of the State address:

“Gov. Newsom has outlined a bold vision that reflects California’s values,” said Sen. Dodd. “We need to build a better state for today and tomorrow and he is doing that on multiple fronts — from supporting healthcare, education and the environment to protecting our state from future wildfires. I appreciate his collaborative style and fiscally prudent approach as well as the time he’s taken with me so far to hear about issues in our district. For example, I applaud his opposition to the flawed twin-tunnels project. I look forward to a productive year under his leadership.”

From Assemblymember Jim Frazier:

Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay), whose district encompasses a large portion of the Delta, issued the following statement today after Gov. Gavin Newsom said in his State of the State address he does not support the twin tunnels project.

“I’m grateful Governor Newsom has been willing to listen to local stakeholders in the battle for the future of the Delta. His unequivocal denunciation of the twin tunnels project is a step in the right direction. I look forward to working with the governor to convince him there are alternative water delivery solutions that are economical and can be delivered in a timely manner, nullifying the need for even a single tunnel.”

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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.

From Maurice Hall at the Environmental Defense Fund:

“We are encouraged that Gov. Newsom emphasized the urgent need for California to meet its massive water challenges head on and commend him for calling the lack of clean drinking water for 1 million Californians a ‘disgrace’ and ‘medical emergency.’ We stand ready to help pass long-overdue legislation for more sustained funding to solve this crisis.

“We join Newsom in highlighting the first task for Joaquin Esquivel, newly named chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, should be reaching real agreements to save the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta. It is time not only to move past the old binaries of farmers versus environmentalists and North versus South, but also to usher in a new era of compromise and solutions that support people, the economy and ecosystems.”

Maurice Hall, Associate VP, Ecosystems – Water, Environmental Defense Fund

From Kern County Water Agency:

Today, Governor Gavin Newsom announced his support for California WaterFix by streamlining the project into a “one-tunnel” design.  The one-tunnel approach creates significant opportunities for protecting the Delta environment, improving California’s water supply reliability and minimizing the effects of the project on Delta communities.

“We have supported a one-tunnel approach in the past and continue to believe it has the ability to meet the needs of Kern County, while protecting fish in the Delta.  We look forward to working with the governor to move California WaterFix forward,” said Ted Page, President of the Kern County Water Agency Board of Directors.

For more information about California WaterFix, visit: www.californiawaterfix.com.

From the Metropolitan Water District:

Jeffrey Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, issues the following statement on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s comments regarding California WaterFix during his State of the State address today:

“Metropolitan welcomes Governor Newsom’s endorsement of modernizing California’s water conveyance system in the Delta. While a single tunnel project will not resolve all pumping problems in the Delta and is less flexible for dealing with climate change impacts, it is imperative that we move forward rapidly on a conveyance project. Having no Delta fix imperils all of California. We intend to work constructively with the Newsom Administration on developing a refined California WaterFix project that addresses the needs of cities, farms and the environment.”

From the Natural Resources Defense Council:

In the State of the State address today, California Governor Gavin Newsom called for a “fresh approach” to managing the state’s water resources.  The following is a statement from senior attorney at Natural Resources Defense Council Doug Obegi:

The Governor is right to call for a ‘fresh approach’ to California’s water challenges and his rejection of the ecologically destructive and wildly expensive twin tunnels project is sorely needed.  The Newsom Administration is positioned to implement a real portfolio approach to water that will significantly reduce water diversions from our rivers and Bay-Delta while investing in sustainable local and regional water supply projects.  That approach will strengthen the State’s water resilience in the face of climate change.”   

From Karla Nemeth, Department of Resources:

“A single-tunnel, smaller project provides the important environmental and water supply benefits California needs. It will continue to have support from businesses and public water agencies, as well as environmental groups and some local Delta communities that have been asking for a scaled-down project with fewer environmental impacts. Governor Newsom’s vision can be implemented more quickly. The status quo cannot be sustained for much longer and climate change is making that point with every passing year.”

From Restore the Delta:

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta responds:

“We are grateful to Governor Newsom for listening to the people of the Delta, and California, and putting an end to the boondoggle WaterFix, twin tunnels project.

“We look forward to working with his administration and the State Water Resources Control Board to create and enforce policies that will restore Delta water quality and quantity, lessen water dependence on the Delta, and promote clean drinking programs and regional self-sufficiency for the benefit of all Californians.

“As we testified under oath at the State Water Resources Control Board, we will re-evaluate any proposed new conveyance projects for their merits and weaknesses and share our findings with Californians.”

From the Santa Clara Valley Water District:

Statement from Chair Linda J. LeZotte on Gov. Newsom’s one-tunnel plan

Valley Water is encouraged that Governor Newsom supports a single tunnel to secure water supply reliability and ecosystem restoration in the Delta. We share the governor’s assertion that the status quo is not an option. This board has consistently supported a right-sized project.

We look forward to working with the Newsom Administration on the one-tunnel approach.

From the Save the California Delta Alliance:

While we appreciate the Governor’s efforts to find a better solution than the twin tunnels, the construction of even a single tunnel along the through-Delta route would still devastate the small legacy communities in the North, would still disrupt Delta farms, would put all of our highways at a standstill with truck congestion, and would shut down boating and recreation throughout the Delta. There were alternative routes studied by the DWR, in particular the Eastern Route, that was less destructive and could provide a compromise solution.

However, for any compromise to work,  the WaterFix operations would need to insure sufficient water through the Delta and continued use of the Southern pumps (at Clifton Court) during times of the year when needed for migrating fish and water quality, operational guidelines that are not part of the current plan. The guidelines would need commitments to reducing exports and reliance over time, commitments that have never been made.

We are greatly concerned that Felicia Marcus was not reappointed to the State Water Resources Control Board.  Political expediency must not drive the determination of the flows that the Delta needs. The new appointees lack Marcus’ understanding of the Delta, the flow needs, and have not been involved in the past three years of testimonies concerning the WaterFix project.

From the Southern California Water Coalition:

“The California dream can’t be achieved without water — thank you, Governor Newsom, for taking action and recognizing that a state as big and diverse as California needs a balanced, portfolio approach to water supply management to meet the needs of the future. We are all united in a battle against the impacts of climate change, and building California WaterFix will ensure we can move water efficiently throughout the state and secure reliability for millions of Californians — even amidst climate whiplash. Southern California is proud to be on the front lines of innovative solutions, from WaterFix to local water supply projects; now we must to lean in with a new sense of urgency and continue doing the work necessary to advance change for future generations of Californians.”

Charles Wilson
Executive Director
Southern California Water Coalition

From the State Water Contractors:

Governor Gavin Newsom delivered his first State of the State address as the 40th governor of California. Governor Newsom addressed lawmakers and all Californians as he laid out his vision for the next four years and support for a forward-thinking, portfolio approach to water supply management that includes upgrading infrastructure to improve conveyance and investing in local supply projects to address the impacts of climate change and population growth — while protecting the Delta ecosystems.

“We agree with the governor: the status quo is not an option, and we must move past the old binaries that have dominated water conversations for decades. We are grateful that Gov. Newsom recognizes the need to invest in infrastructure to move water throughout the state, diversify California’s water supply and protect the environment. We look forward to turning shovels on this much-needed project in partnership with this administration.”

Jennifer Pierre
General Manager
State Water Contractors

News coverage of today’s events (will also be in tomorrow’s Daily Digest)

Newsom kills controversial Delta twin tunnels plan:  “In a major shift in one of the largest proposed public works projects in state history, California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday announced he does not support former Gov. Jerry Brown’s $19 billion plan to build two massive tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to make it easier to move water from north to south.  Newsom, in his first state-of-the-state speech since taking office last month, said that instead, he will pursue a smaller, one-tunnel plan for the project, which Brown had called “WaterFix. …”  Click here to read this article from the San Jose Mercury News.

Gov. Gavin Newsom downsizes Delta water project: one tunnel, not two: “Gov. Gavin Newsom, diving into one of California’s most contentious water issues, said Tuesday he wants to downsize the Delta tunnels project. The Democratic governor also set out to overhaul state water policy by naming a new chair of the state’s water board.  Newsom said he wants the twin-tunnel project — designed to re-engineer the troubled estuary that serves as the hub of California’s elaborate water-delivery system — reduced to a single tunnel. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Gov. Gavin Newsom downsizes Delta water project: one tunnel, not two

Gov. Newsom Seeks to Scale Back Bullet Train, Delta Tunnels Projects: “Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday called for scaling back California’s two largest public works projects — the bullet train and delta water tunnels.  In his first State of the State address in Sacramento, Newsom said the $77 billion bullet train project approved by voters should be canceled after the segment from Merced to Bakersfield is completed.  And he called for only one of two massive tunnels to be built to connect the water systems in northern and southern California. … ”  Read more from the Times of San Diego here:  Gov. Newsom Seeks to Scale Back Bullet Train, Delta Tunnels Projects

Newsom pledges to scale back high-speed rail and twin tunnels projects in State of the State speech:  “Gov. Gavin Newsom announced in his first State of the State speech that he intends to scale back California’s $77-billion bullet train project, saying that while the state has the capacity to complete the first leg in the Central Valley, extending the rail line to Southern California and the Bay Area would “cost too much and respectfully take too long.” … In another break from his predecessor, Jerry Brown, the governor also announced in his speech Tuesday that he will downsize the San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta twin tunnels project to one tunnel. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Newsom pledges to scale back high-speed rail and twin tunnels projects in State of the State speech

Dan Walters: Newsom downgrades Brown’s pet projects: “When Gavin Newsom was running for governor last year, he adopted “courage for a change” as his slogan.  It could be – and was – interpreted two ways: that he wanted to change the direction of California, or that he was disparaging outgoing Gov. Jerry Brown’s reluctance to confront the state’s pithiest issues.  Newsom seemingly embraced both versions Tuesday in his first State of the State address, a very long and detailed laundry list of the state’s ills and how he intends to deal with them that directly and indirectly refuted Brown. … ”  Read more from CalMatters here:  Dan Walters: Newsom downgrades Brown’s pet projects

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