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Water Policy in California

September 22, 1987

Reference is made to a column by state Sen. Art Torres (D- Los Angeles) entitled, "Water Policy Must Be More Than Mirage" (Op-Ed Page Aug. 19). As chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Water Resources with some 12 years of involvement in the north-south water wars, I welcome this newly found interest on the part of Torres.

A great many words have been written over a Senate Office of Research brief titled, "Who Pays and Who Benefits: An Update on Water Development in California." To me the timing and content of that document are suspect. It is nothing more than a piece of a political orchestration to detract from my SB 32 becoming law. The report, if believed, runs the risk of imposing a permanent water deficiency on the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California.

The report assumes the firm yield of the project to be static. This is a highly erroneous assumption. It ignores the fact that the State Water Resources Control Board has reopened the hearings on the water rights of the State Water Project. Our best professional guess is the revised standards will include San Francisco Bay. Consequently, the present firm yield of the project will be diminished. Torres may wish to sponsor legislation precluding such protections be offered San Francisco Bay; I do not. When those standards are imposed, Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley will get less and less. Perhaps either Torres or the Senate Office of Research will tell us how that anticipated loss will be made up. The report and Torres are factually in error.

My SB 32 directs the executive branch of government to do what they agreed to do more than 25 years ago--build a delta facility. Various proposals to more efficiently move water across the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta have been studied to death. Because any project will take more than 10 years to build and thus have a favorable impact on our water supply, the time to move is now. As a courtesy to other geographic areas in need of a supplemental water supply, I included other facilities (Kellogg Reservoir, Los Vaqueros Reservoir and the Mid-Valley Canal). SB 32 does not authorize these proposals as features of the State Water Project. Southern California does not pay for them. Yet, both the report and Torres state Southern California pays. This is in error.

Delta improvements are necessary for water supply, for improved water quality, for better environmental protection in the Delta and for a more assured water supply.




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