This report exhibits excellent leadership being shown by the governor to deal with a huge problem.
Schwarzenegger to move ahead on Delta canal study
He also will call for 20% per capita cut in state water use.
By Kevin Yamamura - firstname.lastname@example.org
Published 12:00 am PST Friday, February 29, 2008
Despite stalled negotiations with Democrats on a comprehensive water plan, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger intends to move forward on studies of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, including a controversial canal, as well as call for a 20 percent per capita reduction in statewide water use, according to a letter he sent Thursday to Senate Democrats.
Department of Water Re- sources Director Lester Snow compared the water conservation proposal to a 2006 law that requires the state to reduce state greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020.
The Republican governor's four-page letter came after leading Democrats alleged Wednesday that he was working "unilaterally" to pursue a canal that would move water around the Delta, a sensitive ecosystem that provides water to 25 million California residents and 2 million acres of farmland.
In a copy of the letter obtained by The Bee, Schwar-zenegger wrote that he intends to direct DWR to begin federal and state environmental reviews on at least four Delta canal alternatives. Those include no new Delta transfer system, a two-part system with a canal and pumps, a stand-alone canal and substantial improvements to the existing pumps.
The studies could take two to three years and cost more than $100 million, paid for by water users under existing contracts, Snow said.
Lawmakers and California governors have long sought a permanent solution that could protect the Delta and provide reliable water transfers. The Delta remains at risk for disruptions because its pumps are viewed as harmful to the ecosystem. State and federal officials had the pumps shut off last summer because they harmed the protected Delta smelt.
Snow said the environmental studies do not predetermine which project would be best. He said Schwarzenegger believes it necessary to have the environmental reviews in place so work can begin quickly when the governor, lawmakers and voters determine which Delta option is best.
"We need to move forward," Snow said. "The history of the Delta being broken is a history of inaction."