Friday, April 20, 2007

San Joaquin Work Costlier

And it may threaten a good plan which is too bad.

$500 million price put on river repair bill
The estimate delays action by Congress on plan to restore the San Joaquin and reintroduce salmon.
By Michael Doyle - Bee Washington Bureau
Published 12:00 am PDT Friday, April 20, 2007

Legislation to restore the San Joaquin River has a $500 million federal price tag, raising fresh problems for a delicate political compromise whose future remains in question.

The newly estimated river restoration cost exceeds earlier predictions. It could force antsy lawmakers to raise taxes or cut other projects. Already, it is delaying congressional plans for fixing the San Joaquin.

In other words, the new price tag poses a big headache for San Joaquin River bill supporters. For skeptics, it's an opportunity. For farmers, it's a reminder that if political compromise fails, a federal judge still could take charge of the river's future.

"I think the costs are a lot higher than have been advertised, and that's a considerable problem for the bill," Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Tulare, said Thursday.

Alone among San Joaquin Valley lawmakers, Nunes publicly opposes the San Joaquin River restoration bill. He is seizing on the new Congressional Budget Office assessment as ammunition in his fight.

Introduced by Rep. George Radanovich, R-Mariposa, the San Joaquin River bill would help restore water and salmon to a channel depleted of both decades ago. The money would fund improvements so more water could spill over Friant Dam, with salmon due to be introduced into the revived river before 2013.