Monday, June 29, 2009

Feds take action on Central Valley water problems

More from Central Valley Business Times:

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar told a Sunday town hall in Fresno that the federal government will address “continuing conflicts associated with transporting water from northern California through the Bay Delta – that includes fisheries-related conflicts and other deteriorating environmental conditions in the Bay Delta.”

Mr. Salazar says he has assigned Deputy Secretary David Hayes to coordinate the federal response to California water supply and related environmental issues with the state and stakeholders.

Other steps are to include:

• Renewed federal involvement and leadership in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) and federal engagement in water supply issues that extend beyond the scope of the BDCP and the immediate geography of the Bay Delta.

• Significant progress will be made on the most contentious water supply and environmental issues by the end of 2009, including but not limited to the issues raised by the BDCP, he says.

• Continued efforts to distribute $220 million in Recovery Act funding for specific water and environmental infrastructure projects in California. Of this amount, $160 million will be directed to the Central Valley Project. An additional $40 million in drought relief funds will be announced within the month, the majority of which will go to California’s Central Valley.

• The expedited review of infrastructure projects that could potentially add flexibility to water delivery systems, including the proposed “Two Gates” project and the canal “intertie” project.

Mr. Salazar says the Bureau of Reclamation has already taken steps to stretch the scarce water supply including the processing of more than 70 water transfers that total approximately 245,000 acre-feet of water for the San Joaquin Valley.

He says the department has also approved rescheduling requests by Westside and Friant Division CVP contractors to allow them to preserve and use prior year allocations of approximately 250,000 acre-feet in San Luis Reservoir and 57,000 acre-feet in Millerton Lake.

Announcement of 2010 rescheduling guidelines is expected by Aug. 1, several months in advance of prior practice, he says.

“When a community is suffering the way this community is suffering, all parties must come together and work in good faith to find solutions,” says Mr. Salazar in remarks prepared for the Sunday town hall meeting. “We want to continue all these actions and also to learn from you today any other ways in which we can help.”

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