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Water Legislation

September 06, 1987

Is it any wonder that Southern California has difficulty in getting needed water legislation enacted? Setting aside the formidable, if not always rational, opposition from Northern California legislators, we are also treated to the opposition of some Southerners who simply should know better.

The inaccuracies in the article (Op-Ed Page, Aug. 19) by state Sen. Art Torres (D-Los Angeles) are illustrative.

The senator reported that the state Senate has passed a bill that would appropriate $1.3 billion for water projects for Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley. In effect, Southern Californians will pick up the bill, but not see the water, he said.

Actually, the bill in question--SB 32, authored by state Sen. Ruben Ayala (D-Chino)--describes no particular facilities and appropriates no funds. Rather, it sets forth objectives for the state Department of Water Resources to meet in order to improve the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta water transfer capacity, so the State Water Project can be operated more efficiently, thus increasing the supply to state water contractors. SB 32 received an overwhelming endorsement by the Senate.

Torres said Southern California would pay most of the costs of the project and receive little or no water, and would pay the outrageous sum of $15,000 per acre-foot. He further states that the benefits of this water supply would go to the San Joaquin Valley farmers.

That is erroneous! Southern California has a priority for its water requirements over those of the San Joaquin Valley agricultural agencies. The actual estimated cost of the proposed delta water facilities to Metropolitan is only about $65 an acre-foot.

Torres obtained an "analysis" that used unreasonable and unsupported assumptions, outdated reports and the manipulation of numbers to arrive at the preposterous figure of $15,000 per acre-foot.

Torres acknowledged that MWD and other Southern California water agencies are aggressively working to obtain new water supplies. Again, the facts are that, based upon growth and increased water needs, substantial water shortages are inevitable in future dry periods in Southern California unless additional supplies are obtained.

In achieving the desired effect of undermining support for the pending water bills, Torres is certainly not acting in the interests of the people of Southern California.

HARRIET M. WIEDER

Orange County Supervisor

Chairman, Southern California

Water Committee

Santa Ana

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