From: Bill Wells
Sent: Wed, Nov 18, 2009 5:14 pm
Subject: From Senator Dave Cox
California Delta Chambers & Visitor’s Bureau
PO Box 1118
Rio Vista, CA 94571
Thank you for contacting my office to express your views regarding the water legislation and bond package which was recently approved by both houses of the Legislature and sent to the Governor. I appreciate hearing from you and having the opportunity to respond.
The serious issues involved with water supply and protection of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta have been discussed for years. I have always been a supporter of additional surface storage facilities to provide reliable water supply for future generations of Californians, but the package of bills presented to us in the middle of the night this November was not acceptable to the vast majority of communities I represent in the First Senate District, which contains the source of much of the water that flows to the Delta and to the State and Federal Water Projects.
Unfortunately, the package was never subject to public input or debate, in direct violation of the rules of governance of both the Senate and Assembly. This was also a failure by the Legislature to provide Californians with the transparency and accountability to which our legislative leaders regularly ascribe – apparently only when convenient.
As you may be aware, during debate on the Senate floor, I questioned the intent of a last-minute amendment added by President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg to appropriate $10 million of California taxpayers’ money to build an aquarium and botanical garden at a unity center in Sacramento. Although he attempted to minimize its import or impact, upon its discovery and a rapid media backlash, the President pro Tempore had the language removed. Nevertheless, the package still contains $30 million for questionable “water education related” expenditures. At a time when the state is struggling to recover from years of over-spending, the economy is in recession, and taxpayers are working to keep their heads above water, such spending represents a violation of the public trust.
The package’s more offensive provisions include the erosion of area-of-origin water rights and requirements that Northern and Central California communities fulfill a 20 percent water use reduction mandate while the cities of Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Santa Ana are expected to reduce water consumption by only five percent. San Francisco and Monterey are exempt from the conservation requirements. This mandate is applicable to all water users in the Tahoe Basin, even though its water flows to Nevada, and is not part of California’s water supply. The Sacramento Regional County Water District points out that its ratepayers, including the cities of Citrus Heights, Elk Grove, Folsom, Rancho Cordova, Sacramento and West Sacramento, may see their water bills double or triple. Residential customers may expect to pay $1,000 more per year and the fees for largest industrial users could run into the millions.
Ultimately, I could not support this package and voted in opposition to all five bills when they came before me in the Senate. Although I wrote to the Governor to ask that he veto the bills, he signed all five bills, and the bond will likely be put before the voters for consideration on the November 2010 General Election ballot.
Again, thank you for taking the time to relay your views. Please feel free to communicate with me on other issues of interest.
Senator, First District