California Water Commission meeting – the water discussion is loaded, watch your step, or you will be left high and dry

14 Apr
I would have been comforted by this room full of people but I found out most of  them were there under false pretenses.

I would have been comforted by this room full of people but I found out most of them were there under false pretenses.

Busy little bees – my husband and I went out last night to the California Water Commission hearing on their “Water Storage Investment Program” – or, more suitably, “How should we divvy up the Prop 1 pie?

Dammit, I told you  guys to vote NO! on Prop 1 – who got us into this $7.5 billion hornswaggle?  Well, I do remember District 4 Senator Jim Nielsen and Assembly District 3 representative James Gallagher being strong proponents of this tax grab, as well as strong proponents of the Sites Reservoir. When I read the proposition, I didn’t see any guarantees how the money would be spent, even directly on water. As was driven home by board representatives last night, “before bond dollars from Proposition 1 can be disbursed for actual projects, each state agency tasked with administering a competitive grant or loan process must develop and finalize guidelines for soliciting and evaluating project proposals.”

So, they haven’t even ironed out the guidelines by which they will divvy up the money, much less made any promises. Nielsen and Gallagher said they’d asked all of us down there last night, as Gallagher put it, “to ensure we have water for our future…”  Nielsen insisted that “This bond was clearly represented to be  about water storage…” Well, while that’s what he and Gallagher said when they were selling it to the voters, I never saw that in the text of the proposition. 

How soon we forget – about four years ago we were all screaming for FLOOD CONTROL. There’s roads in Glenn County that are never paved because they routinely wash out, truckloads of gravel being brought in once the water goes down to connect rural families back to civilization. In Tehama County last year, a whole subdivision was turned into a chain of islands and children were stranded on a school bus when their driver rightfully balked at the flooded roads. Now Nielsen and Gallagher say the words “flood control” as though it’s some plot to steal our money. They also act as though the Sites Reservoir will directly benefit the residents of our area, of Chico even. Nielsen said such a reservoir at Sites would “take pressure off Folsom Lake…” for water transfers. What does that have to do with Chico? And yeah, as Nielsen said, it will take pressure off Folsom Lake – with our Sacramento River water.

The discussion was loaded in the wrong direction. Nielsen and Gallagher got a huge crowd, dozens and dozens of farmers from towns like Gerber and Orland and Arbuckle, all over the region, riled them up to believe they were being ripped off, and Sites was the way to secure “our” water. The exact opposite is true – Sites is the very mechanism by which they steal “our” water, and we’ll pay, as Prop 1 specified, 50 percent of the cost of rounding it up and transporting it south.  Here’s the map showing how they will use the existing Glenn/Tehama canal to take water from Red Bluff diversion dam to the proposed  Sites reservoir, cutting out farmers and other users all the way down the Sac River.

One user is City of Chico. We use the river to discharge our sewer water. Several times in past, changes in the river flow, particularly M&T Ranch taking huge volumes of water for irrigation, have left the Chico sewer pipes high and dry, dumping “treated” sewer water right on the beach. They are supposed to be located, like leach lines, on the bottom of the river.  It’s cost Chico millions each time to fix, and there’s no permanent solution, it happens every time there’s a change in the flow of the river.   How will Sites Reservoir, with it’s emphasis on “securing municipal water supplies”, affect the Chico Sewer plant operations? 

The whole  hearing was a real disappointment – they were not prepared for any kind of turnout, didn’t put out enough chairs, big snafu getting the crowd of 300 or so into the huge and perfectly capable building. They set this thing up as though they didn’t want us to come. 

This board, by the way, is made up, essentially, of developers, legal insiders, a water district shill, and a couple of corporate farmers from the Fresno area. There are no representatives from North of Sacramento. 

I’m sorry I don’t have a better report, we left when we realized the presentation covered stuff I’d already read about on their website, and the public would not be allowed to comment until the last 45 minutes of a three hour presentation. We had already realized, by attending, we gave the impression that we support Jim Nielsen, James Gallagher, and the Sites Reservoir. 

Of course I was really happy to see my county supervisor Maureen Kirk present, as well as Dist 4 super Larry Wahl, Mayor Mark Sorensen, Vice Mayor Sean Morgan, planning commissioner Bob Evans, and others. I will also say, Maureen stood in line with everybody else to get in and she sat in the audience talking to people while waiting for the start of the program. 


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