Mar 14, 2012
Lonnie Wong FOX40 News
March 12, 2012
The rainstorms predicted for the valley this week aren’t preventing the South San Joaquin Irrigation District from declaring a water emergency.
The district provides water to 40,000 acres of agricultural land just north and south of Highway 120 through Manteca. District officials are wary of forecasters.
“They haven’t been very accurate this year. We’ve seen several of these fronts come through and haven’t materialized with a lot of precipitation.” said Jeff Shields, District General Manager.
In addition, the district provides drinking water to the cities of Manteca, Lathrop and Tracy. The cities have backup groundwater supplies but it comes at a cost.
“”The cost of pumping and the cost of treating whereas we provide the treated surface water to them,” said Shields.
The district believes deliveries will be cut by about 30 percent. The Board of Directors will vote on the emergency declaration at its next meeting. Shields says it’s important for customers to know what to expect.
Growers must decide whether or not to dig wells, overhaul water pumping equipment or decide whether to plant a particular crop in a particular field.
“No water, no crops. Sometimes, it’s as simple as that,” said Shields.
Despite the weather forecasts, too much is at stake for the district not to expect the worst.
Mar 12, 2012
Michael Doyle – Bee Washington Bureau
Friday, Mar. 09, 2012 | 11:23 PM
WASHINGTON — Lawmakers have quietly begun laying groundwork for a California water bill that could pass the Senate and become law.
If it happens, it will be less ambitious than one passed recently by the Republican-controlled House. It’s likely to avoid dramatically rewriting a San Joaquin River restoration plan. And, it’s going to demand some give-and-take from all sides.
“I think we have to be able to work across the aisle to help the San Joaquin Valley,” Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, said, “and we also have to be able to work across both houses [of Congress].”
In recent days, Denham met with Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein in her Senate office to discuss the California water legislation and other common concerns. Significantly, there will be more meetings to come.
Following next week’s congressional recess, Denham said he will privately be convening again with Feinstein along with Reps. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, and Dennis Cardoza, D-Atwater. Costa and Cardoza were among a handful of Democrats to vote for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act on Feb. 29.
The bill would lengthen irrigation contracts to 40 years, rather than the 25 years currently in place. It would override state law, would increase deliveries to farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and would significantly revise a San Joaquin River restoration plan.
Even as they voted for the controversial House water bill, Costa and Cardoza had stressed the need to collaborate with Feinstein in order to make long-term progress.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to reach some level of consensus on how we can move forward,” Costa said.
Two House members who aren’t scheduled to join the Feinstein meeting are the bill’s chief House author, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Visalia, and the chairman of the House water and power subcommittee, Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove.
Nunes has not endeared himself to Feinstein, as he has regularly denounced her for being allied with those he calls “radical environmentalists” and members of the “hippie generation.” Last year, he sponsored ads attacking her alleged “hypocrisy” on water issues.
“We have to work together,” Feinstein said, “but it’s difficult when you’re being trashed.”
Nunes, in turn, stresses that he has other, conservative allies in the Senate with whom he can work.
McClintock has not talked to Feinstein about water legislation in the year that he has led the House water and power panel, the senator said, but the congressman’s press secretary, Jennifer Cressy, said in an email that McClintock “respects the independent role of the Senate.”.
“Congressman McClintock is looking forward to participating in the conference process once the Senate has acted,” Cressy said.
The House bill’s provision to change San Joaquin River restoration plans appears to face the stiffest Senate opposition.
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Mar 1, 2012
Published: Thursday, Mar. 1, 2012 – 12:00 am | Page 3A
Last Modified: Thursday, Mar. 1, 2012 – 10:41 am
WASHINGTON – The House on Wednesday approved an ambitious California water bill that favors farmers, splits the state and pressures the U.S. Senate.
In a highly partisan vote, the Republican-controlled House approved the legislation that would lengthen irrigation contracts, override state law and boost deliveries to farms south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Most dramatically, the bill replaces one San Joaquin River restoration plan with something far less ambitious.
“Flushing water into San Francisco Bay is not helping to recover species, and people are suffering needlessly,” said bill author Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Visalia, adding later that his bill “gives (water) reliability, not only to farms but to the environment.”
Approved 246-175, the bill marked one of the few times the full House has confronted California’s water woes. The nearly five-hour debate, though, also underscored how the bill has magnified rather than ameliorated regional and personal differences.
“This is a power grab,” said Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove. “It’s a water grab, and it’s an imposition of the federal government over the state.”
The bill faces an uncertain future. Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer both oppose the legislation, as does the Brown administration in Sacramento, and the Obama administration has threatened a presidential veto.
“Senator Boxer and I will do everything we can to make sure it won’t pass,” Feinstein said in an interview Wednesday, “and I don’t believe it will pass.”
At the same time, Feinstein said she would “look at it and see” if individual provisions might merit separate consideration. Rep. Jim Costa of Fresno, one of only 10 House Democrats to vote for the bill, stressed that Feinstein’s participation will be essential for anything to happen.
Joined by Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, Nunes introduced the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act last year in response to repeated severe cutbacks in irrigation water deliveries south of the Delta.
The legislation returns federal irrigation contracts to 40 years, rather than the 25-year limit imposed in 1992. It eases water transfers and preempts strict state laws that might impose stricter environmental standards.
Though the water is California’s, the controversy crosses borders. In a rare floor speech, House Speaker John Boehner praised the legislation, a sign it could have political legs. From the other side, suggesting broader resistance, Colorado, Wyoming and Oregon state officials warned about the dangers of pre-empting state laws.
“This direct weakening of the deference to state water law is unacceptable,” Wyoming State Engineer Patrick Tyrrell wrote. “It poses a threat to water rights and water administration across the Western United States.”
In hopes of reassuring Western officials, lawmakers included extraordinary language declaring the federal pre-emption of state laws in California would not be a precedent elsewhere. Skeptics doubt this language can make the precedent simply disappear.
Following extensive negotiations, from which House Democrats say they were excluded, GOP lawmakers further included language intended to assure Sacramento Valley residents that they won’t lose water to San Joaquin Valley farms.
“This bill places senior water right holders in a safe and secure position,” insisted Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove, the chair of the House water and power subcommittee.
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