Delta groups urge defeat of water rights revamp
February 27, 2012
• Say it upends 150 years of water rights law
• ‘A clear indication of just how bad this bill’
The California water wars go to a new battlefield this week – the floor of the U.S. House of Represenatives.
On Wednesday, the House is scheduled to vote on a bill authored by Tulare Republican congressman Devin Nunes.
Supporters say it will assure water for customers in the San Joaquin Valley.
But that’s not how 16 environmental, business, and municipal organizations from the Sacrament-San Joaquin Delta region see it.
They have signed a letter to House Speaker John Boehner voicing strong opposition to H.R. 1837, "The San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act," sponsored by Mr. Nunes and scheduled to be heard by the House on February 29.
Opponents have also written to area congressional representatives Tom McClintock and Jeff Denham, both of whom support the measure.
"The environmental community, fishing groups, and the Business Industry Association of the Delta all recognize how dangerous this bill is," says Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta. "It would strip away 150 years of water rights law and public trust protections in California."
H.R. 1837 would relax water pumping restrictions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. But the Delta groups says the restrictions have been the last line of defense for protecting water quality for Delta farming and urban users.
Co-signers of Restore the Delta's opposition letter include the California Striped Bass Association, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, the California Delta Chambers and Visitors Bureau, the South San Joaquin Irrigation District, and the city of Stockton.
A coalition of 190 environmental, environmental justice, tribal and fishing organizations from around the state also sent comments in opposition to H.R. 1837 to Mr. Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
"It is rare for so many diverse groups to be on the same page about an issue," says Ms. Barrigan-Parrilla. "That's a clear indication of just how bad this bill is."