Posted by: Jan | August 27, 2010

AJR-38 and 2-Gates Update


AJR-38 passed the Senate (1 Nay vote) – to the Governor for sign-off
We posted on August 16th that the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water revised the 2-Gates bill, AJR-38 and removed the request to prioritize the 2-Gates project and instead only to complete the study to determine whether or not to go forward with 2-Gates. That change was sufficient for all of the members of the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee to vote yes.

On August 18, the Assembly reviewed the Senate revision. Assembly comments:

    1) Acknowledged that from 2007 to 2009 California experienced water
    management challenges due to a severe drought and, to a lesser
    extent, the need to prevent the extinction of Delta fish

    populations protected by FESA, CESA, or both and that drought,
    recession and other hardships contributed to the economic
    dislocation of rural farming communities
    on the west side of the
    San Joaquin Valley.

    2) Recognized the Two-Gates Project as an experiment that proposes
    to install barriers and gates across two Delta rivers with a
    hypothesis that this would reduce the loss of Delta smelt at the
    SWP/CVP pumps and an inference that such a reduction would allow
    greater SWP/CVP export water deliveries.

    3) Requested USDOI to complete the Two-Gates Project study.

Isn’t something missing here?
The assembly recognized that the main water issues were “due to a severe drought” and only “to a lesser extent, the need to prevent the extinction of Delta fish.” They also recognized that it’s a combination of “drought, recession and other hardships”, not Delta fish that impacted farming communities (and as we now know, most of the hardships were in the construction business). This is an “experiment”. Yet this resolution moves forward to complete the study of the 2-Gates.

The recent State Water Board Delta Flows report stated the crisis in the Delta is too much water being extracted and the legislators are saying they want “greater SWP/CVP export water deliveries.” We say reliable exports, yes. More water exported, no.

What’s also missing is legislative recognition of the impact the 2-Gates will cause to Delta communities. Besides 1) above, there should be a 1B:

    1B) Acknowledged that the installation of these 2 Gates would cause
    economic and other hardships to the Delta Communities and to all
    those that use the South Delta waterways, cause safety issues,
    and are likely to negatively impact Delta fish and wildlife.

And then, if they would acknowledge these facts, wouldn’t the resolution logically be killed and the study stopped?

Only 4 Assembly members voted no in May 2010 when the resolution was first voted on. The Assembly vote was 63-4 with Nay votes from the Discovery Bay Assemblymember representative Joan Buchanan plus Gaines, Niello, Yamada. Only one Senator voted no last week. Mark DeSaulnier the senator that represents Discovery Bay and other Delta communities was the lone “NO” vote.

Today the Delta Stewardship Council released the Final version of their Interim Plan. It lists as the first responsibility under the DWR:

  • “Efforts to cooperate in the construction and implementation of the Two-Gates Fish Protection 21 Demonstration Project by December 1, 2010”.

The study hasn’t been completed, the DWR and many others know it is not a good idea. Why is there still an aggressive implementation date?

Sometimes it seems people are starting to listen to reason and rational thought concerning the Delta. The DWR understood the issues and concerns when they wrote their Dec. 22, 2009 letter putting 2-Gates on hold for more scientific analysis. The Obama Adminsistration and EPA called for additional environmental analysis. Newspapers are now reporting more about water issues and exposing private special interests. Then the senate passes AJR-38. We’ll have to see what happens next.

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