Still talking, but at issue now is if there will be enough time to pass the legislation freeing the funds to make this deal happen this year, and the river flow again with salmon running though it.
Late talks on river revival bear fruit
San Joaquin accord still must be turned into law.
By Michael Doyle - Bee Washington BureauPublished 12:00 am PDT Thursday, September 28, 2006
Exhausted Capitol Hill negotiators agreed Wednesday on legislation to revive the San Joaquin River below Friant Dam.
Haggling until midnight Tuesday, and returning to the fray Wednesday morning, negotiators finally settled their differences on what could now become one of the nation's most ambitious environmental restoration efforts.
"I am hopeful that today's agreement will help transform the San Joaquin into a living river, and ensure that the hard-working men and women in the Friant service area will continue to have a stable water supply," Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., declared in a statement.
Establishing a new "experimental population" of salmon, while still protecting operations on local dams and water projects, were the keys to the compromise. The next big problem is time, which Congress is short of.
With an estimated cost ranging between $250 million and $800 million, the San Joaquin River restoration plan will combine state, local and federal efforts over the next 20 years. The overall concept was agreed upon two weeks ago, settling a long-running lawsuit.
The concept, though, must be converted into legislation. The package resolved Wednesday after about 100 hours of further negotiations covers the myriad details needed to make the settlement work. In particular, it reassures water users outside the San Joaquin Valley's east side.