Issue: Californians deserve a reliable water supply, and they are counting on their elected officials to resolve whatever challenges stand in the way of delivering it.
Background: In the absence of the passage of a water bond last year, California water agencies strongly support a renewed effort to pass a comprehensive water package this year. The package should include investments in additional surface and groundwater storage, a comprehensive Delta solution (including conveyance and environmental protection) and water use efficiency.
•A comprehensive package is needed to address a growing list of challenges, including looming changes in our climate, continued population growth and the increasing vulnerability of the Delta.
•Without a comprehensive water package, our water system will not have the flexibility to respond to the challenges ahead. The water supplies for more than 25 million people in the Bay Area, Central and Southern California are at risk.
•Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) proposed a $9.3 billion water bond package in July 2008 to fund these investments. Constructive bond packages also have been proposed by both Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature.
•Despite tremendous legislative interest and agreement on several key areas, efforts to place a water bond package on the November 2008 ballot came up short in the final days of the legislative session. We need to redouble our efforts to successfully pass an equivalent bond measure in 2009.
•The need for a comprehensive water solution has never been more urgent. A persistent statewide drought has put a squeeze on water supplies and a USFWS Biological Opinion has placed severe restrictions on water project operations to protect a threatened fish. Further constraints are likely until the underlying physical problems in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta are resolved.
•To address these issues, substantial investments must be made in local water resource projects, including conservation, water recycling and desalination. In addition, California must also invest in improving the sustainability of our statewide water storage and conveyance system. The aging system must be modernized so it can protect the aquatic environment and fisheries while still meeting the public’s and economy’s need for reliable water supplies.
•Additionally, the Delta requires a comprehensive approach that focuses on the ecosystem and a portfolio of solutions, including actions to address all stressors and structural improvements in the water supply system, including conveyance and storage. We need to move, on an urgency basis, to adopt such a comprehensive approach that can work for the environment and our economy.
•The Delta Habitat Conservation and Conveyance Program addresses these issues but cooperation on the part of the agencies that enforce the federal and state endangered species acts is needed to move away from species-by-species mitigation and protection. Instead, what is needed is a comprehensive multi-species protection plan that seeks to protect the Delta habitat for all of the species found there from the multiple threats they face and results in the most efficient beneficial use of Delta water for all of those dependent on it.
Requested Action: Support renewed efforts to pass a proposed Bond Measure in 2009 and support the DHCCP and efforts to protect the Delta habitat by means of a comprehensive approach to mitigation and protection.