Key aspects of the bill include: strict mandatory conservation and groundwater management programs; guidelines on how delta-area local governments will participate in management of the delta; and the overall repeal of the current primary statute governing the delta (the California Bay-Delta Authority Act) with the shifting of vital authority on delta policy and development decisions to an independent, seven-member state agency (the Delta Stewardship Council).
Inside “buzz” indicates that the most problematic issues regarding the bill will be funding and the creation of the Delta Stewardship Council. A joint hearing of the Senate and Assembly water committees on the bill began Monday. And, that is also when water reform legislation requesting billions of dollars in bonds to repair levees and build new dams could come forward.
In addressing the Southern California Water Committee last week, Schwarzenegger remained optimistic and unwavering stating that: “A water system designed to serve 18 million people is collapsing under the pressure of 38 million people. The delta is dying. Federal judges, as we all know, are turning off the pumps. Farmers can’t plant crops. Building permits are being denied. Jobs are being lost and lives are being destroyed…. [W]e have areas where there’s 40%-plus unemployment rate and people are standing in the food line. So this is really outrageous. The water package that we’re negotiating is big and it is comprehensive. We will finally build — if the legislators agree and come to an agreement, and we put it on the ballot and it is approved by the people — we will build the peripheral canal. We will build more above and below the ground water storage. We will fix the Delta and its ecosystem. And we will require conservation and groundwater monitoring and we will clean, also, the groundwater.”