Sunday Nov 01 2009
McClintock pushes for hearing on valley water situation
By: Gus Thomson Journal Staff Writer
‘Problem is regulatory drought,’ congressman said
U.S. Rep Tom McClintock is wading into the California water wars on the federal front. Using his position as ranking Republican member on the House Water and Power Subcommittee, the 4th District congressman has requested the panel hold a field hearing on what he is describing as a water crisis in the Central Valley. McClintock, R-Roseville, said the diversion of hundreds of billions of gallons of water for environmental purposes, including delta smelt protections proven not to work, is “utterly intolerable.” “The problem is a regulatory drought,” he said. “Environmental regulators are diverting 200 billion gallons of the water supply. And it’s not even helping the smelt while it’s devastating for the economy, creating higher taxes and grocery prices.” McClintock made the field hearing request in a letter to Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall and Water and Power Subcommittee Chairwoman Grace Napolitano. In the letter, McClintock expressed disappointment in the committee for not focusing on the plight of Central Valley families or “that 250,000 of the most fertile agricultural acres in the entire hemisphere have been fallowed.” McClintock said Friday that it’s inevitable the hearing will take place. Dave Breninger, general manager of the Placer County Water Agency, said McClintock will be able to help look at the impact of water restrictions on jobs and food. “He’s seeing the big picture, which is commendable,” Breninger said, adding that also includes water supply in area-of-origin counties like Placer. The water agency is currently grappling with attempts by state legislators to craft new water bills that could result in 20 percent reductions in supply for Placer while other areas face smaller cutbacks. Breninger said it’s good to have a strong voice on the federal front and McClintock will provide that. “He’s one who’s on point to talk about what some people don’t want to talk about publicly,” Breninger said. Jack Sanchez, Save Auburn Ravine Salmon and Steelhead president, said the delta that supplies much of the Central Valley is imperiled by the lack of water – but not just fish stocks. The plan by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger involving construction of a peripheral canal to ship water to the western part of the San Joaquin Valley borders on lunacy, he said. “I believe that it’s very difficult to solve state water problems by trying to satisfy all parties with one vehicle – the peripheral canal,” Sanchez said. SARSAS has a plan that would allow groups and individuals to work on streams to help with the state water problems and increase salmon and other fish stocks, he said.