Assemblyman Adam Gray Speaks Out on Water Grab

Water Board Must Understand the Impact of Taking Water from Farms and Communities

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

At the recent Water Rally in Sacramento, more than 1000 farmers and other stakeholders were protesting the California Water Resources Control Board, which is proposing a water grab of 40 percent of the water from the Stanislaus, Tuolumne, and Merced Rivers to increase flows for salmon. According to Adam Gray —21st District State Assemblyman, representing Stanislaus and Merced—counties said that large losses would occur in jobs and profits if the water grab is implemented.

“This is thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of economic loss to agriculture, to California, and we can’t afford that,” Gray said. “Not to mention the impact on drinking water in communities. Most of the communities in my district are on well water, and what people don’t think about is when you take water away from farmers and that water doesn’t go back into the ground. That further depletes our groundwater and our aquifers, and it creates more subsidence and environmental issues.”

Gray said that this is not about the environment versus business, or fish versus people. This is about the whole community, the schools, the ag economy and a lot of job losses for the people he represents.

“It’s dishonest; the Water Board is not admitting that there’s going to be an impact in the affected areas. They say farmers are going to offset the water losses by pumping more. Well, you and I both know with the implementation of SGMA and all of the other challenges, that’s not a reality,” he said.

“So how about we sit down and come up with a water plan that takes everybody’s needs into consideration and again, I’m not an us versus them advocate,” he said. “Southern California needs water, the coast needs water, northern California needs water and the San Joaquin Valley needs water. How about we sit down and make a water infrastructure plan for the next hundred years that serves all Californians.”

Gray said the farming community will stand up for the investments made to secure water.

“We are not going to lie down. We’re not going to apologize for being a farming community,” he said. “We’re going to stand up; we’re going to defend the investments we’ve made and the long-term planning we did, and we’re going to ask the state to step up and do some of their own.”

Gubernatorial Candidate John Cox Denounces State Water Resources Board

John Cox Joins Farmers and Agricultural Community in Calling to #StoptheWaterGrab 

News Release Edited By Patrick Cavanaugh

Gubernatorial candidate John Cox issued the following statements on the California State Water Resources Control Board’s recently proposed water plan that would divert between 350,000 and 1.7 million acre-feet of water away from Central Valley farmers annually.

The California Farm Water Coalition estimates the financial impact to Valley communities could be over $3 billion annually, with 6,500 jobs lost as a result.

Cox visited Fresno County last month to express support for the proposition 3 water bond. This announcement was ahead of visits to Fresno and Bakersfield.

“I am deeply disappointed yet sadly not surprised by the decision by the State Water Resources Control Board addressing flows on the San Joaquin river,” Cox said. “The complete failure of the Sacramento establishment to provide the necessary funding, authorization, and will to build adequate surface water storage is the single greatest reason California continues to suffer unnecessary water shortages. Even the most recent approval of funds by the California Water Commission for both the Sites and Temperance Flat reservoirs are but a fraction of the funds needed to complete these two vital water storage projects.”

“The time for action is long overdue and they need to stop the water grab,” Cox said. “As Governor, I and my appointments to all California boards and commissions—but in particular the State Water Resources Control Board and the California Water Commission—will take the steps necessary to develop sufficient water storage for California’s residential, agricultural, and business needs, while protecting our aquatic environment, the Delta, and our oceans.”

“Gavin Newsom is the very embodiment of the ‘Sacramento political class’ that ignores the plight of everyday Californians,” Cox said. “He will continue to spend countless billions of hard-earned tax dollars on proven failures like the so-called High-Speed Rail project rather than demand construction of essential water storage infrastructure to meet California’s needs—including environmental purposes, which today already use more water than all California agriculture.”

California Water Alliance: SWRCB Water

SUMMARY

California State Water Resources Control Board

Water Rights Prioritization Proposal

March 2014

SUMMARY

California State Water Resources Control Board (“SWRCB”), in response to a Temporary Urgency Change Petition filed by the CVP and SWP operators, issued an order that had the effect of undermining water rights and contracts, regardless of historic priority, under SWCRB control for “health & safety” purposes. The current proposal would cause State Water Project (SWP) and Central Valley Project (CVP) agricultural surface water deliveries to cease until 2015. Areas in need of “health & safety” water for the next year are undefined and not one evidentiary hearing has occurred.

Further, an official SWRCB decision was scheduled for March 12, 2014. A formal request for a delay of decision until March 21, 2014 was submitted by Senator Feinstein, Senator Boxer, Congressman Garamendi, and Congressman Costa on March 5, 2014. SWRCB’s response was received on March 10, 2014, but with no clarity as to when they will implement further orders or hold hearings.

STATE WATER RESOURCE CONTROL BOARD

The State Water Board’s mission is to preserve, enhance and restore the quality of California’s water resources, and ensure their proper allocation and efficient use for the benefit of present and future generations. The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) and the nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards (Regional Boards) protect water quality and administers surface water rights.

  • Felecia Marcus; Chair – Appointed in May 2012 by Gov. Jerry Brown
  • Frances Spivy-Weber; Vice-Chair – Reappointed in March 2013 by Gov. Jerry Brown
  • Steven Moore; Member – Appointed in May 2012 by Gov. Jerry Brown
  • Tam M. Doduc; Member – Reappointed in March 2013 by Gov. Jerry Brown
  • Dorene D’Adamo; Member – Appointed in March 2013 by Gov. Jerry Brown
  • Tom Howard; Executive Director – Appointed in August 2010 by Gov. Arnold SchwarzeneggerNo Water Logo

 

AREA of IMPACT

  • Area of impact includes 3,750,000 irrigated acres.
  • State Water Project Service Area includes Greater Los Angeles Area, Greater San Diego Area, Greater San Francisco Area, Santa Clara Valley, Inland Empire, Central Coast, Sacramento Valley, and San Joaquin Valley.
  • Central Valley Project Service Area spans 400 miles from the Cascade Mountains near Redding to the Tehachapi Mountains near Los Angeles. CVP manages 9 million acre feet of water for California cities, businesses, farms, and wildlife refuges. Including 1 million households daily water needs, 1/3 California’s farmland, 11 power generating facilities, and over 420,000 acres of fish & wildlife refuge annually.
  • Impacted Counties: Contra Costa, San Joaquin, Fresno, Kern, Kings, San Joaquin, Merced, Madera, Stanislaus, Alameda, Santa Clara, Tulare, Shasta, Trinity, Tehama, Colusa, Butte, Glenn, Sutter, Yuba, Yolo, Sacramento, Mariposa.

 

PROJECTED ECONOMIC IMPACTS

  • 40-80% unemployment in impacted SWP & CVP service areas.
  • 700,000-800,000 acres of farmland fallowed. Equivalent of 1,100 square miles or the Greater Los Angeles & San Diego areas combined.
  • Estimated $2.5 billion direct loss to California farm economy.
  • Estimated additional $5 billion loss to state economy from reduced related economic activity. Related industries include, but are not limited to, processing, transportation, wholesale, retail, cargo shipping via ports of Oakland, Stockton, Los Angeles, & Long Beach.
  • Increased consumer level food and milk prices estimated at $10 – $15 per trip to the market, and 10% – 15% increase in fruit, vegetables, beef and poultry prices in the short-term.
  • Increased utility costs, including energy & water. Projections based on 2007-2009 drought data where consumers paid $1.7 billion more in energy bills.

 

ECOLOGICAL IMPACT

  • Habitat for migratory waterfowl and shorebirds will be reduced by up to 550,000 acres.
  • Water for refuges are expected to be reduced or eliminated impacting up to 230 species of wildlife.
  • Depleted aquifers due to over reliance on groundwater, and inability to annually recharge aquifers with surface water.

 

LEGAL IMPACT

  • Water rights within impacted SWP & CVP service areas, including historic pre-1914, are being undermined, fundamentally changing California state law.
  • Reassessment of all property values with effected water rights, changing all tax assessment & revenues in all impacted counties.  Estimated reduction of property values, on average, by approximately 50%.

 

SOURCES

http://www.news10.net/story/news/local/california/2014/02/22/drought-will-impact-food-prices/5723079/

http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nightly-news/54502245#54502245

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-h-gleick/the-costs-of-californias_b_4747043.html

http://m.westernfarmpress.com/markets/average-california-farm-real-estate-value-7200-acre

 

Water Board urged by California U.S. Lawmakers to Delay Severe Water Cuts

California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and Congressmen John Garamendi and Jim Costa sent a joint letter on March 5, yesterday, to Tom Howard, Executive Director, California State Water Resources Control Board urging them to delay issuing a proposed order prioritizing water deliveries throughout the state, expected to be handed down as early as next week, until at least March 21.

In their statement, posted by the Bay Planning Coalition, the lawmakers urge the Water Board to delay its “extraordinarily far-reaching proposed order”. . . “to make sure it is correctly calibrated to minimize the potentially devastating effects on many Californians.”

No Water LogoThey acknowledge the coordinated efforts between difference levels of government, but urge the Board to “avoid catastrophic reductions of water deliveries to California agriculture”.

Continuing, allowing more time would provide the Water Board with the best available information for these “complex water delivery decisions that could affect large parts of California, especially those regions that are integral to our nation’s agricultural economy.”

“We acknowledge that the Board is eager to issue a decision so that senior water rights holders do not plant crops with the expectation of receiving a 40 percent CVP water allocation when public health and safety considerations may require a significant cutback.”

Finally, they ask that the water decision “be formulated with great care so that its burdens do not unduly fall on those who have already had to give up a great deal.”