ICYMI – California Water News, Scary Stuff Edition 10/31/19

Democrats’ Bernhardt probe has California’s Cox in a tough spot – Roll Call, Washington, DC 10/31/19
“…an investigation by Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee who say Interior Secretary David Bernhardt may have influenced the reversal of that scientific assessment to help Westlands Water District, a former lobbying client that provides water to those farmers. The probe also puts one of those Democrats in a tough spot.”

Restore the Delta adds
As we posited in our blog The Political Science of Bernhardt’s Biological Opinionsthe Trump Administration is rolling back Delta species and water quality protections aided by the waffling, and at times stonewalling, of San Joaquin Valley Congressional Democrats.  These representatives, like Representative TJ Cox, were voted in to help bring about change in the San Joaquin Valley on numerous fronts.  Cox, however, is being captured by big ag growers like the Woolf Family of the Westlands Water District through 2020 political PAC contributions*, and now sits on the fence about providing proper oversight over conflicts of interests between Westlands and Secretary Bernhardt. This is how Westlands maintains its outsized influence on California water policy.  We know our followers have had enough of it. 

  • 2020 contributions to TJ Cox can be tracked at the Center for Responsive Politics database — open page to look at top 100 contributions. Woolf family contributions can be found under California Westide Farmers. Other farming interests in water exports are also listed.

Delta Group Critical of Federal Move to Change Water Priorities – The Independent 10/31/19
Meanwhile, Barrigan-Parrilla is hoping that Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has challenged Trump on other environmental issues, such as global warming, will stand up to the president again. “We are calling on the Newsom Administration to help fight these faux-science based opinions and to stop the Trump plan to increase water deliveries to big water districts. These rollbacks cannot become part of the Newsom Administration’s ‘voluntary agreement’ process for the Delta,” Barrigan-Parrilla said.

Here’s how $500M new reservoir planned near Patterson would work – Modesto Bee 10/28/19
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta, a delta protection group, said a project taking delta water in wet periods won’t likely raise issues, but filling the reservoir in dry years could spark a reaction from environmental groups.
“If taking more water means gutting protections for the delta than it becomes problematic,” she said.
Barrigan-Parrilla said her group will probably look at the operational details in the environmental study. She added it may be wise to spend money on upgrades to the San Luis Reservoir dam before funding a new reservoir. Some of the funding for canyon reservoir would come from the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, plus multiple other sources.

Editorial: Gov. Newsom must counter President Trump’s attack on bay and delta species protection – San Francisco Chronicle 10/31/19
“Now that the Trump administration has dealt its blow, the ball is in Newsom’s court. He should insist that the voluntary agreements live up to the promise that they will protect the bay and delta at a level equivalent to the updates that the Water Board had proposed — this will require major increases in the water and habitat restoration in current offers. He should also urge the Water Board to complete its required update of water quality standards quickly, so that the bay’s health isn’t reliant on enforcement of the federal Endangered Species Act alone.
The governor can still live up to his promise as an environmental champion, but he needs to ask water agencies to dig much deeper. Time is running out for San Francisco Bay.”

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