California Congressmembers Urge Water Board to Reverse Decision
February 13, 2015
California legislators in Washington, D.C., issued a bicameral, bipartisan letter TODAY requesting the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) reverse last week’s decision of its Executive Director, Thomas Howard, to deny the joint Central Valley and State Water Projects’ request to more equitably share limited fresh water outflow into the Pacific Ocean.
Separately, Congressional House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy issued the following explanation TODAY via Kyle Lombardi, his Legislative Director:
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources submitted a Temporary Urgency Change Petition (TUCP) to the California State Water Resources Control Board (the State Board) on January 23rd to revise certain standards in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to allow increased pumping to send more water, including from recent storms in the northern part of the state, to the Valley given the drought crisis.
Unfortunately, the initial decision by the State Board’s executive director last week rejected the important part of the TUCP that would have allowed increased pumping because of concerns about impacts to smelt and salmon. Congressman McCarthy strongly feels this was the wrong decision, particularly given Federal and state fish agencies (i.e. the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife) all supported the TUCP, including the provisions to allow increased pumping.
Accordingly, Representatives Kevin McCarthy, David G. Valadao, Devin Nunes, Ken Calvert, Jeff Denham, Jim Costa, and Senator Dianne Feinstein sent the letter below to State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus demanding that the Water Board reverse their executive director’s decision and approve the TUCP in full to allow increased pumping. Here are a few passages:
Our constituents have told us that some do not even have water for basic necessities like cooking, drinking, and showering, and that some are abandoning their homes and moving out of State.
Many Central Valley towns have unemployment rates that are triple or quadruple that of the state average of 7 percent due to significantly reduced employment in the agricultural sector.
When five agencies - including three tasked with protecting fish – have already assessed and concurred that the export adjustment would not cause harms beyond those allowed under the most stringent statutes and biological opinions, we believe the Executive Director should not have rejected the agencies' shared assessment and denied the export adjustment in the TUCP without a compelling rationale for taking such an extraordinary action.
We find the Executive Director's reasons for denial unpersuasive and unsupported by the facts that have been carefully evaluated by five State and Federal agencies.
McCarthy encourages constituents to express similar support for the TUCP and increased pumping levels by contacting the Water Board via:
-In person: Public Water Board Workshop at 9:00 a.m. Wednesday, February 18, 2015, in the Byron Sher Auditorium Joe Serna, Jr.-Cal/EPA Building, 1001 I Street, Second Floor, in Sacramento, CA.
For more information, email contact Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy at http://www.kevinmccarthy.house.gov/.