Our Governor is providing great leadership around the always contentious issue of how to handle the water in our state, wet up north, dry down south, and never sure about the middle.
State seeks funds for 2 dams, maybe a canal
Top water official urges a bond issue to raise $4 billion for dams, and a study of building a canal around the vulnerable Sacramento-area delta.
By Nancy Vogel
Times Staff Writer
July 11, 2007
SACRAMENTO — Diving into California's most turbulent water dispute, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's top water appointee on Tuesday proposed asking voters next year to pay for new dams — and, quite possibly, a canal arcing around the vulnerable Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
In a legislative hearing, Department of Water Resources Director Lester Snow said the governor would like to place a bond measure of at least $4 billion on a 2008 ballot, even though the Legislature and Schwarzenegger have yet to begin spending the $5.4 billion from a water bond issue that voters passed in November.
More money is needed, Snow told legislators, for the heart of California's complicated water system: the delta where the state's two biggest rivers converge. Just before they reach the Pacific Ocean near San Francisco, huge federal and state pumps divert water to Central Valley farms and the faucets of 18 million Southern Californians.
"We believe there needs to be significant investment in the delta that is not currently available," Snow told a legislative committee Tuesday. "I think there's substantial evidence that the delta is completely broken…. We need to invest significantly."
Left unspoken by Snow were the words "peripheral canal," which conjures up the nasty 1982 ballot battle after which voters rejected a 43-mile canal around the delta. The 62%-38% vote came after a campaign that one television station likened to civil war. Northern California newspapers railed against the canal plan, saying it would suck dry the Sacramento River to sprinkle lawns in Los Angeles.
But it was clear where Snow was indicating the administration was headed. He told lawmakers he wanted to work with them to put on next year's ballot a measure that would embrace two pending bills: one that would begin construction of two dams in Northern and Central California and another that would force state water officials to evaluate several versions of a canal skirting the delta.