AB1594 would require legislative approval for water conveyance


Capital Press

SACRAMENTO -- An Assembly committee has declined to hear a bill that would require lawmakers' approval to build a facility that would carry water around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

AB1594, by Assemblywoman Alyson Huber, D-El Dorado Hills, would require that plans for the facility be approved by a vote of the legislature.

The Assembly water committee declined to discuss the bill at a Tuesday hearing.

The historic Delta-centered legislation that lawmakers hammered out last year provides for a Delta governance council that would review any conveyance plan to ensure it fits with a forthcoming management plan for the estuary.

But supporters say the legislature should have more direct control over a project "with potentially disastrous effects on water users and the environment in the Delta," a committee analysis says.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration is formulating its Bay Delta Conservation Plan, which seeks to balance stabilized water deliveries with management that preserves declining Delta species. A major element of the plan is the facility, often called the "conveyance," which could take the form of a tunnel.

Residents and farmers of the Delta feel they were allowed only limited participation in the negotiations over last year's water legislation, and that they lack sufficient representation on the new Delta council.

Opponents say the bill would only create redundancy, adding "delay and chances of obstruction ... which will threaten jobs and economic health," according to the committee analysis.

Huber's bill is supported by the Sierra Club and a list of Delta-area and San Joaquin County chambers of commerce, water agencies and county supervisors.

It is opposed by a much longer list of Southern California and San Joaquin County water agencies, utilities and business interests.

Opponents include the Association of California Water Agencies, Westlands Water District, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and Western Growers.

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