Thursday Nov 03 2011
Another View: Hands off Placer’s water
By: Kevin Hanley, guest columnist
The California Legislature and an out-of-control state agency called the Delta Stewardship Council are working feverishly to take our county’s water, our money and our ability to create new jobs, electrical power, prosperous farms, ranches and abundant fisheries and recreational opportunities. Placer County residents and those living in the threatened Mother Lode and Sierra Nevada need to work together as a team to fight the Sacramento power brokers. The Delta is stressed out. In November 2009, SBx 7 1 was signed into law to create the Delta Stewardship Council (DSC). The DSC is charged with drafting a Delta Plan by January 1, 2012 that will ensure a more reliable statewide water supply and restore the Delta’s ecosystem. But the Sacramento power brokers won’t make the hard decisions to fix the problem. They won’t build adequate off-stream storage so that we can survive the next drought. They won’t force residents who live in bone-dry Southern California to pay the real cost of water through expanded use of recycling, conservation and desalination. They won’t build a bypass around the Delta and guarantee that an adequate and predictable supply of water will be delivered each year to Central Valley farms and ranches. They won’t lift a finger to reform the insane state and federal timber laws that perpetuate unhealthy timber stands of 500 trees an acre that wastefully soak up water that should flow into our rivers, kill local wood product jobs, bust firefighting budgets and threaten our communities with catastrophic fire. Instead, the Sacramento power brokers are targeting the area of origin water rights and pocket books of mountain county residents. Going way beyond their statutory authority, the DSC has defined the huge Mother Lode and Sierra Nevada region as being located in the “Delta watershed” and labeled mountain water agencies as “stressors on the Delta.” The water suppliers are getting blamed for the deteriorating Delta ecosystem while the beautiful people lounging around their Southern California pools languidly respond, “don’t worry, be happy.” Since the Gold Rush days, Placer County residents have built an elaborate water and hydro-electrical power system to serve local needs and to also help deliver water to other Californians. But now the state is getting ready to abrogate area of origin water rights that go back to the 1920s, severely restrict future water diversions and set a 75 percent flow standard through the Delta that will severely restrict the ability of Placer County residents to create new jobs, generate local electric power, support our fisheries and tourism and supply our towns, farms, ranches, orchards and vineyards with water. And to add insult to injury, the Legislature will soon act on SB 34 and other bills that could mandate that we pay a new “Public Goods Charge” to pay for Delta restoration projects and support the obscene and bloated $50 million budget of the DSC. Beneficiaries who extract water from the Delta, not the area that supplies the water, should pay these costs. The residents and leadership of Placer County need to work as a team and in concert with others in the threatened Mother Lode and Sierra to protect our water and pocket books from any irresponsible action by the DSC and the California Legislature. We will not thrive in the future if we lose control over our water rights. The Auburn City Council will be considering a resolution supporting participation in a Regional Water Resources Coalition on Nov. 14. I urge other local agencies, business associations and other citizens groups to support this important effort. Kevin Hanley serves on the Auburn City Council, the Placer County Flood Control District and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments.