Senate Democrats balk at governor's plan for
By Judy Lin - Bee Capitol Bureau
January 25, 2007
Followed by commentary
of Mike Wade, Executive Director California Farm
Water Coalition, posted 1/28/07
on Thursday cast doubt on Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger's plan to build a pair of dams,
saying they have a cheaper and easier way to
maintain the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
"We want more
water supply and we want better flood protection
as cheaply and as quickly as possible," Senate
President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, said
during a Capitol new conference to unveil his
party's flood protection plan.
He added: "We
don't believe new dams at this point are needed.
They cost billions of dollars and they take
years, in fact decades to build."
administration has proposed building two dams,
most likely in Temperance Flat just above Friant
Dam near Fresno, on the San Joaquin River, and
Sites reservoir in Colusa and Glenn counties.
In proposing four
bills, Democrats said they favor a mix of
conservation, groundwater storage and better
floodplain management to provide twice the
amount of water than the dams could provide.
Their bills seek
to change how the state manages water and flood
protection, as well as direct new bond money
toward fixing existing levees. Democrats said
their proposal ensures that flood agencies put
public safety first, requires the state to
rebuild weak levees, and reforms the structure
of a 1940s-era flood protection board by
requiring Legislative oversight.
Assistant Executive Director
California Farm Water Coalition
717 K Street, Suite 417
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 441-7723 ph - (916) 441-7842, fax
FOOD GROWS WHERE WATER FLOWS
California visitors better bring lunch
Mike Wade, Executive Director
California Farm Water Coalition
Guest Comment Capital Press 2/2/07
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposal to
seriously consider adding two new reservoirs to
our state's water supply system was immediately
met with criticism by some individuals who have
long called for conservation and recycling as
the only means to answer our future water needs.
Make no mistake about it, conservation and
recycling must be a part of the answer but these
efforts alone will not satisfy a thirst by 46.4
million Californians by the year 2030, compared
to 33.8 million in 2000. New reservoirs must be
a part of the formula for our future.
These critics characterize the governor's
proposal to create new surface storage as
"projects that make no sense." Some are pointing
a finger at farmers as attempting to get
taxpayers to "build them another billion-dollar
These comments come from individuals within the
environmental community, which they claim has
received too much blame for stalling reservoirs.
Instead, they insist that the fault lies with
urban water agencies unwilling to pay their
share and farmers who are always looking for a
Can you believe it?
Nothing has stood in the way of new water
development more than hard-core environmental
groups. Some environmental groups have been very
open to discussing how to cooperate in
safeguarding California's water future. But
others have done everything possible to prevent
new reservoirs from taking shape.
Unfortunately, their voices are magnified each
time they are interviewed by the news media.
Urban and agricultural water agencies have been
very open about their willingness to pay for any
water benefits they receive from new projects.
The rub comes when water agencies are asked to
pay for public benefits, such as environmental
projects when they are clearly a public benefit
and ones for which the public should pay.
Critics of new reservoirs want the public to
believe that farms have unfairly benefited from
past water projects, such as the federal Central
Valley Project or the State Water Project. What
they don't say is that farmers have been paying
for the water they receive and are willing to
pay their fair share of the costs for any new
water delivered from new water projects.
It is my opinion that hard-core
environmentalists want to prevent - yes, stop -
any new water development in California.
By doing so, they know that the inevitable
growth the state will experience in coming years
will ultimately get its water from the supply
that currently goes to farms.
That is an unbalanced approach to planning and a
cowardly way to address the needs of the next
What this state needs is a balanced approach to
meeting its resource needs. Conservation and
recycling programs have done a tremendous job of
meeting new growth while only a small amount of
new water has been developed in the past 30
years. That can't go on forever.
If we don't develop more water to meet our needs
through the 21st century then we will have to
meet new water supply needs by taking water away
from an existing water user. That somebody is
the California farmer.
If critics of the governor's proposal had their
way, the sign at the border would say, "Welcome
to California. Bring your own food."
Mike Wade is executive director of the
California Farm Water Coalition.