Interior Secretary Zinke Agrees: Sacramento Water Grab “Unacceptable”

Zinke Directs Staff to Propose New Plan

News Release

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s visit to Don Pedro and New Melones Reservoirs at the request of U.S. Representative Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) continues to yield results for the Valley, with Secretary Zinke issuing an internal memo Friday declaring the state’s proposed water grab an “unacceptable restriction” that reduces the Department of the Interior’s ability to deliver water and directing his agencies to propose a plan within 25 days to maximize water supply, construct new water storage, and resolve issues with the state, among other directives.

“After our tour of local reservoirs, Secretary Zinke recognizes that Sacramento’s water grab would cripple our communities, farms and water storage infrastructure,” Denham said. “Our water, our water rights, and our future depend on stopping this wasteful plan.”

Rep. Jeff Denham, photo courtesy of his Facebook page

Previously, the Bureau of Reclamation, within the Department of Interior, issued an official comment on the state’s proposed water grab, noting the plan “directly interfere[s] with the New Melones Project’s ability to store water” and “elevate[s] the Project’s fish and wildlife purposes over the Project’s irrigation and domestic purposes contrary to the prioritization scheme carefully established by Congress.”

The agency’s comment also specifies that siphoning off at least 40 percent of the Central Valley’s rivers during peak season would result in significant reductions in water storage at New Melones and result in diminished power generation as well as recreational opportunities. The agency recommends the Board reconsider and postpone the scheduled August 21-22 public meeting to allow for “additional due diligence and dialogue.”

Recently, Denham’s amendment to stop the state’s dangerous water grab passed the U.S. House of Representatives as part of a Department of the Interior appropriations bill, and put a major spotlight on this issue. The amendment, currently awaiting a vote in the Senate, prohibits federal agencies from participating in the state’s plan to deplete the federally owned New Melones reservoir, which provides water for the Central Valley Project and generates hydropower.

Sacramento’s plan would drain significantly more water from New Melones each year, potentially leaving it completely dry some years. This would put in jeopardy critical water supplies for Central Valley farmers and communities who rely on the water for their homes, businesses, farms, and electric power. The amendment takes this issue head-on to protect Valley water.

Denham will continue fighting to protect Central Valley water, support science-driven river management plans that revitalize our rivers without recklessly wasting water, and push major policies like the New WATER Act that will solve California’s water storage crisis and keep the Valley fertile and prosperous for generations to come.

See the memo from Secretary Zinke here, or to read the full comment from the Department of the Interior on the state water grab plan, click here. For more information about what Denham is doing to fight for water in the Valley, visit www.Denham.house.gov/water, where you can also sign up to receive periodic updates on his work in Washington to improve local water infrastructure, storage and delivery.

Letter in Support of Temperance Flat Dam

California Building Industry Association Supports Temperance Flat Dam Project

Many letters are flowing to the California Water Commission in support of Temperance Flat. Here is just one of them!

 

 

Mr. Armando Quintero

Chairman

California Water Commission

P.O. Box 942836 Sacramento, CA 94236-0001

 

Re: Support for Temperance Flat Reservoir

Dear Chairman Quintero:

The California Building Industry Association (CBIA) is a statewide trade association that proudly represents 3,000 members, ranging from homebuilders and trade contractors to suppliers and industry professionals. CBIA member-companies are responsible for over 90% of the privately financed and privately constructed new homes built in California each year. As such, we take great interest in the Water Commission’s Water Storage Investment Program (WSIP) and its process for allocating Proposition 1 funds for projects to improve the statewide water system. CBIA has historically been a strong supporter of efforts to increase water supply – our organization was a key stakeholder in the water bond negotiations in 2009 through the successful Proposition 1 bond on the ballot.

Given our longstanding interest in California’s water system, we wish to express our support for the Temperance Flat Dam and Reservoir Project given its ability to provide essential water storage for the state of California. As one of the projects identified in the 2000 CALFED Record of Decision, the project would provide up to 1.26 million acre-feet of vital water storage, thereby improving water supply and the flexibility needed to manage California’s precious water resources.

An increase in water supply is particularly important given the state’s current and projected housing crisis. Housing supply is not keeping up with demand nor has it in several decades. The current backlog of housing is estimated at two million homes needed. Additionally, to keep pace with growth, the state needs at least 180,000 new units per year through 2025. With low supply and skyrocketing costs, it is not surprising that California’s overall homeownership rate is at its lowest level since the 1940’s. The State ranks 49 out of the 50 states in homeownership rates as well as in the supply of housing units per capita.

One critical component for addressing California’s housing needs is there must be an adequate and reliable source of water. While today’s homebuilders employ the newest and most effective water efficiency technology, new housing projects cannot be approved and built without identifying water supply. Temperance Flat would help provide that reliability so that our members can move forward on much needed housing projects throughout the state.

We strongly support this project, as it would help ensure that California has the ability to sustain its growing water needs by enhancing deplenished water resources and providing the necessary flexibility in the system to manage those resources. We look forward to working with the California Water Commission and the San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority to advance this important project.

Sincerely,

Erin Guerrero

Vice President of Legislative Affairs

 

Many other letters are coming in for support. Here is who to contact, by e-mail or U.S. mail, with your comments attention to:

California Water Commissioners and Executive Director

California Water Commission

P.O. Box 942836

Sacramento, California 94236-0001

CWC@water.ca.gov

Mr. Joe Yun, Executive Director

California Water Commission

P.O. Box 942836

Sacramento, California 94236-0001

joseph.yun@water.ca.gov