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Legislation and Water Bonds

The State's water system is in peril and we need wise and informed legislation to put it back on track. Read articles about the legislation and politics behind our thirst for new dams, a perhipheral canal, water conservation, and other fixes to our ailing water system.

Dam politics get tricky for the Valley's leadership

May 20, 2006  -  Top Valley government and community leaders are still struggling to solve the political pickle that is state Assembly Speaker Fabián Núñez, a Los Angeles Democrat.

To refresh, the Democrat-led state Legislature earlier this month passed a $37 billion bond package.

Valley officials were outraged for two reasons: The deal contained no money for local water storage, and Assembly Member Juan Arambula, a Fresno Democrat, got punished big-time by Núñez for abstaining on a vote pushed hard by the party leadership.

Dueling water bonds a recipe for keeping flawed status quo

Inability to find compromise on issues means problems will fester.

California's "water community" -- the term often used to describe the agencies, environmental groups, agribusinesses and other industries with an interest in the state's water -- is one of the silliest misnomers in common parlance.

A community, like a functional family, shares certain attributes: It communicates. It recognizes shared interests. It doesn't put the needs of an individual over that of the group.

Compromise is urged on river restoration bill

Water districts represented by the Friant Water Users Authority want legislation passed and the river restored to settle a 1988 lawsuit filed by environmentalists. Farmers lost the lawsuit and fear that without a compromise settlement, a federal judge would give fish more river water.

"We're having ongoing discussions, and I think those discussions have been productive," said Ron Jacobsma, general manager of the authority, which represents 22 water districts serving the San Joaquin Valley's east side. "We're feeling optimistic."

River bill hits rapids in D.C.

Costa-designed plan sees oil, gas producers paying to restore the San Joaquin.
By Michael Doyle / Bee Washington Bureau
11/08/07 00:00:00

WASHINGTON -- Oil and gas producers working in the Gulf of Mexico would pay to help restore the San Joaquin River under a bill that encountered new difficulties Wednesday amid growing debate.

With the oil and gas industry mobilizing against the bill -- and San Joaquin Valley lawmakers arguing about it -- a key House committee canceled plans to approve it Wednesday morning. Lawmakers have given themselves one more week to salvage the legislation, which has struggled all year.

River deal gets a bit wobbly in Congress

Historic settlement might land in judge's hands again.

An essential piece of legislation to advance the plan to restore water to the San Joaquin River appears to be floundering in Congress. If the House of Representatives can't come up with a bill, the whole issue could be right back where it started 18 years ago: in federal court. And that might be bad news for just about everyone involved.

Bill to restore river clears House panel

Measure to help San Joaquin still faces hurdles.
By David Whitney / Bee Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- Legislation to restore the San Joaquin River cleared the House Natural Resources Committee by a 25-15 vote Thursday, winning cheers from environmentalists but not a single Republican vote.

"We've waited a year for this, and now we have it," said Hamilton Candee, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. "This sends an important signal back to the state that this river restoration is going to happen."

Democrats' water bond fails to get two-thirds vote to pass Senate

10/08/07 17:32:13
Senate Republicans on Tuesday defeated a Democratic plan to spend billions of dollars to shore up California's water supplies, highlighting the parties' long-standing disagreement over new dams.

Republicans said the $6.8 billion bond by Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata was inadequate because it did not require money to be spent on dams.

Bigger water plan is unveiled

Governor's $9 billion proposal has more state money for dams.
By E.J. Schultz / Bee Capitol Bureau
09/19/07 04:25:30

Gov. Schwarzenegger's $9 billion proposal will be put into legislation carried by Sen. Dave Cogdill, R-Modesto.

$5.1 billion for dams
$500 million for groundwater storage
$1.9 billion for environmental repairs to the delta
$500 million for grants to fix regional watersheds
$1 billion in grants for conservation and regional water projects.

Debate dams up state lawmakers

Legislature, interest groups are split on a solution for water needs.
By E.J. Schultz / Bee Capitol Bureau
09/30/07 22:51:26

SACRAMENTO -- From the minute Gov. Schwarzenegger called a special session on water, it was clear what the sticking point would be.

Dams. Republicans say the state needs more. Democrats aren't convinced. More than two weeks into the session, lawmakers have yet to find common ground.

Schwarzenegger's $9 billion plan puts an emphasis on three new dams -- including one near Fresno. Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata's $5 billion proposal frees local water agencies to spend money how they see fit.

State Democrats offer alternative dam legislation

Bills would offer less funding than governor's plan.
By E.J. Schultz / Bee Capitol Bureau
09/27/07 23:44:32

SACRAMENTO -- With two competing water plans already on the table, Assembly Democrats on Thursday weighed in with their own package of bills to fix the delta and increase water supplies.

The legislation includes few details at this point. But the bills reaffirm the reluctance of Democrats to use state money to pay for dams -- a major part of Gov. Schwarzenegger's $9 billion plan.

Watch streaming video of the Feb 4 debate on water issues at Fresno State, moderated by U.S District Judge Oliver Wanger.

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