Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Commentary on Water

A public water leader presents a balanced and excellent commentary on California’s water situation.

Securing Southern California's water future
By: LESTER SNOW - Commentary:

Last week, Gov. Schwarzenegger introduced a $9 billion water bond package to help address California's water crisis and ensure clean, safe water for generations to come. With our rapidly growing population, drought conditions in many parts of the state, a changing climate and an aging water system, now is the time for leadership and bold action.

The governor's plan allocates more than $5 billion to build new above- and below-ground surface storage. In addition to providing reliable water supplies, these facilities also address a broad range of public benefits including habitat and restoration needs, in-stream flows and river temperature requirements, flows to manage Delta salinity, management of the timing of diversions from and releases to rivers and streams, effective conjunctive use of surface and groundwater, and flood management.

The governor's plan also addresses the problems in the Delta head on and provides a foundation for improved water conveyance through or around the Delta. His plan will pave the way by providing funds for permitting, environmental review and other non-construction related hurdles. The governor recognizes the need for Delta improvements, including conveyance, and has never shied away from the topic. He also agrees with Southern California water officials that any package must be comprehensive and balanced. This is why his proposal includes storage, conveyance, ecosystem restoration and local conservation and water management programs. It's a flexible plan that's the right fit for a state with a wide variety of water demands.

California greatness is due, in part, to the vision of previous generations who built our statewide water system. But now that system needs an extreme makeover. The governor's plan will make investments to existing and new infrastructure that can help move water to where it is needed, and do so in a way that is more efficient and that protects our environment. This focus is particularly vital in the Delta, where there is an emerging consensus that we need to find new and better ways to protect the estuary and provide reliable water deliveries.