I am often reminded just how fortunate we are to have the legislators we do working on our behalf in Sacramento. This is especially true when I see the yabos some of my counterparts are forced work with to attain reasoned discourse and successful programs.
Some time back I wrote about the sorry state of our water system as I had gleaned from visiting many of the facilities starting at the headwaters of the Oroville Dam and ending up at my own tap. (Water Tour Day 1, Water Tour Day 2, Water Tour Day 3) Recent statistics have indicated that our two main reservoirs in Northern California are at just over 30% capacity due to the prolonged drought conditions.
While that in itself has resulted in 30%+ reductions to the amount of water shipped south for our consumption, last year that amount was further reduced by almost 85% due to emergency rulings in favor of environmental concerns about the Delta Smelt, a tiny fish found in profusion in the Sacramento Delta system.
The theory is that these smelt occasionally congregate around water intakes, get sucked into the pumps and die. Water providers have had to install expensive nets and strainers to keep the fishies safe but even those extensive and expensive measures don’t please the enviro’s.
So water bound for Southern California and our millions of citizens is shut off so the smelt can copulate and frolic without fear of demise at the hands of us vicious water consumers.
While Senate Democrats wrestle valiantly with ways to enhance state revenues (i.e. raise your taxes), Republicans are attempting to deal with some of the real issues we face – like the very real possibility of severe water shortages this summer if this issue is not resolved. When you see the Senator, be sure and thank him for his efforts on our behalf in the face of overwhelming negativity from the enviro’s and the GREENS.
Hollingsworth, Republicans Urge Governor to Call for Convention of “God Squad”
Federal Ruling on ESA Water Restrictions Devastating to State
Senator Dennis Hollingsworth (R-Murrieta) and 27 Republicans have sent a letter (see below) to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, urging him to call upon the President and the Secretary of the Interior to convene the Endangered Species Committee, or “God Squad.” The- letter requests an appeal of water restrictions on California as mandated by federal court rulings to protect the Delta smelt.
“Every drop of water is a valuable commodity in California and it is crucial that we protect what little we have,” stated Senator Hollingsworth. “We are not only facing a natural drought, but one that is court-imposed, which will only worsen our current economic situation and impact many California communities and farmers who are already facing severe water restrictions.”
Under the provisions of a 1978 amendment of The Endangered Species Act (ESA), a committee comprised of seven Cabinet level members called the Endangered Species Committee (nicknamed “the God Squad”) can be convened to hear exemptions from the ESA’s stringent provisions. The plea to lift the water restrictions complies with the exemption requirements, in that there is no reasonable alternative to the agencies’ action and that the action is of extraordinary regional importance. The Governor is the only non-federal official who can request the Committee be convened to relax the regulations.
Following two years of drought and the current dismal snowpack, California’s water reserves have become dangerously low and the court-ordered water delivery restrictions have diminished supplies from the state’s two largest water systems by almost 30 percent.
“The Governor has wisely directed state agencies and departments to take immediate action to address the serious drought conditions that exist in California,” concluded Hollingsworth. “Republicans in the Legislature are hopeful he will take further action and request that the federal government intervene on our behalf as well.”
Dennis Hollingsworth represents the 36th Senate District. The district includes Southwest Riverside County, North and East San Diego County, and portions of the City of San Diego.
February 5, 2009
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Sacramento, California 95814
Dear Governor Schwarzenegger:
As you are keenly aware, California is in the midst of the most grave water crisis in its history. Following two years of drought and the current dismal snowpack, water reserves have become dangerously low. Further, the court-ordered restrictions on water deliveries from the Delta due to the listing of endangered species, have diminished supplies from the state’s two largest water systems by almost 30 percent.
While we are deeply concerned with the effects both the natural drought and the court- imposed drought will have on the many California communities who are already facing severe water restrictions, it is imperative that we address the economic devastation to our state as well.
Every drop of water is a valuable commodity in California and it is crucial that we protect what little we have. Approximately two-thirds of all Californians – an estimated 23 million people – obtain at least a portion of their water from the Delta, which firmly establishes that the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is the single largest source of California’s water. Without question, we have been devastated by the federal ruling which ordered protective measures for the smelt and cut water exports by a third.
Thus, we are asking that you submit a formal petition to the United States Department of the Interior and request the Endangered Species Committee (or “God Squad”) be convened to address our appeal to lift the water restrictions on California as mandated by federal court rulings to protect the Delta smelt. As per the 1978 amendment to the Endangered Species Act, we believe this conforms to the exemption request requirements, in that there is no reasonable alternative to the agencies’ action and most importantly, the action is of extraordinary regional importance.
Governor, you have wisely directed state agencies and departments to take immediate action to address the serious drought conditions and water delivery reductions that exist in California. Although an uncommon request, we nonetheless urge you to take further action and request that the federal government intervene on our behalf as well.
Thank you for your consideration of this timely and urgent request.
Senator, 36th District