WATER UPDATE FROM ADAM GRAY

The Next Chapter of California’s Water Wars Has Begun.

July 6, 2018 – – Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) released the following statement condemning today’s announcement from the State Water Resources Control Board to ignore decade’s worth of science and public opinion by adopting radical new requirements to seize and waste critically needed San Joaquin Valley water supplies.

“The State Water Resources Control Board’s decision today is the first shot fired in the next chapter of California’s water wars. The board has chosen to create, in their own words, ‘a permanent regulatory drought’ and shrugged off our concerns as ‘significant but unavoidable’.”

This is what theft looks like. A small group of special interests have spent years plotting one of the largest water takes in our state’s history. They attempted and failed to change the law and win in court, so instead they have infiltrated government itself. They positioned their allies to influence the process from within and spent hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money to prop up their house of cards. Despite entire agencies at their disposal and seemingly unlimited funds, no amount of trickery can obscure the truth – their fish first philosophy will decimate our region, poison our drinking water, and provide no environmental benefit what-so-ever.

These special interests are desperate to claim the moral high ground and demonize our entire region. They speak about the people of the San Joaquin Valley as if we are parasites on the land and demand we apologize for our very existence.

They do this because without the zealous drumbeat of environmentalism on their side, the truth would have an opportunity to surface. People would begin to question the wisdom of poisoning the drinking water of poor immigrant communities or the sense in decimating the farms that feed the nation and fields that make California’s farm-to-fork movement possible.

People would question why the proponents of a plan designed to save fish cannot demonstrate any meaningful benefit to those very fish or why the questions and concerns of a million people do not deserve even a halfhearted response. People might even question whether it is really environmentally friendly to sacrifice the health of one environment for the health of another.

They have left us no alternative. We will continue to negotiate with the best interests of the Valley at heart, but, if the state continues to violate the principles of good faith, a decades worth of lawsuits are about to begin.

The final public comment period is now open until July 27th with final adoption scheduled for August 21st . Please submit your comments to tell the State Water Board exactly how their plan will impact your community. They have made the comment period short to try to keep us quiet. Let’s not let them.”

 

Comment Alert!

Please email your comments directly to the Water Board to this address and help fight this water grab:

LSJR-SD-Comments@waterboards.ca.gov

 

 


 

“Thousands of local residents, businesses, school officials, and elected leaders of our area have signed letters and petitions, attended meetings, and joined together to speak out against the proposed state water grab. I made a commitment to you to keep you informed on water issues impacting our area and wanted to update you on the latest developments.”

– Assemblyman Adam Gray.

Unimpaired Flows Proposal

Public comments on the State Water Board’s proposal to increase unimpaired flows from the Merced, Tuolumne and Stanislaus rivers were due March 17, 2017. Those comments, which can be found at http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/public_notices/comments/2016_baydelta_plan_amendment, are now being reviewed by Water Board staff and are supposed to be addressed in a final report to be released in the late spring or summer. After an additional comment period, the Board could take final action by end of 2017. I will keep you updated as the Water Board continues its review process and schedules any additional hearings.

Voluntary Settlement Discussions

Governor Brown called for voluntary settlements between the irrigations districts, the state, and other stakeholders on the unimpaired flows proposal, reasoning that such settlements could avoid years of costly litigation. The Governor appointed former Arizona Governor, Bruce Babbitt, to guide those discussions, which are ongoing.

Recent Meetings

In mid-April, I met with Governor Babbitt to discuss the flows issue. I provided Babbitt with a packet of videos, letters and articles that strongly argued against the state’s unimpaired flows proposal. The information I provided him is included below. In our meeting, I emphasized the significant negative impacts to the economy, groundwater sustainability, disadvantaged communities and drinking water quality of over one million Californians living in the most impacted areas. I also stressed that the Water Board report either dismissed or ignored these impacts. In regards to potential settlements, I noted that most of the local community supported the voluntary settlement discussions, but stressed that any agreement needs to be equitable and free from loopholes that could allow it to be overturned at a later date.
In late-April, I traveled to Washington, D.C. with a bipartisan group of my Assembly colleagues. We met with congressional leaders, as well as with heads of several key departments, including Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke. We had productive discussions about adding water storage in California and having a balanced approach to water management. I plan to continue working toward water solutions for our area on both the state and federal level.

Water Legislation Update

I currently have two bills working through the Assembly that aim to restore some fairness and accountability to our water policies here in the state.
AB 313 – Currently, the Water Board exercises quasi-judicial authority to hold water rights hearings. The Board writes regulations, initiates enforcement actions, and conducts hearings in which Board staff act as prosecutors and the Board itself acts as the judge and jury. AB 313 would restructure water rights hearings by creating a new Water Rights Division in the Office of Administrative Hearings that could act as a neutral decision maker in the process. The bill was approved by the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife with a 13-0 vote to send the bill on to the next committee.
AB 1490 – AB 1490 requires that the Water Board evaluate the potential adverse impacts that implementation of the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan would have on drinking water supply and  quality in schools in disadvantaged communities. The Board would have to include information describing any measures that could be implemented to address any adverse impacts identified in the report. The Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials voted 5-0 to send the bill on to the next committee.
I will keep you informed as these bills continue to move through the legislature.

Information supplied to Governor Babbitt

Gray persists in Bay-Delta Plan criticism – to the last day

Hundreds rise in defense of the region’s rights to water

CORRESPONDENCE TO THE WATER BOARD FROM ASSEMBLYMAN GRAY

Correspondence to Les Grober – State Water Resources Control Board

LOCAL GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATIONS WITH THE WATER BOARD