CRP Blog

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Republicans: We Need Surface Storage for Water

Governor Schwarzenegger and Republicans are fighting for California's future by insisting the state build much-needed surface storage capacity. Here are some myths v. facts from the Governor's office:

"We don't need to build more dams. We have plenty of storage already."
Fact: We don't have enough surface storage now. The last major state-built surface storage projects were completed 34 years ago, and their capacity inadequate for our population's needs and the effects of global warming.

We've lost millions of acre feet of water as a result. From October 2005 to September 2006, two reservoirs, Shasta and Folsom, released more than 6.5 million acre-feet of water to the ocean because they did not have room to store flood flows from the Sacramento River.

"We can solve the state's water crisis with conservation and recycling."
Fact: Conservation can't capture the Sierra snowmelt. Conservation certainly has a role in the Governor's plan. But it can't store water. Had the Governor's plan been in place during the 2005-06 flooding, we would have started the 2007 water year with an additional 3.3 million acre-feet of water in storage allowing us to deliver more water and better protect the ecosystem.

More storage would have addressed current water shortages. The State's major reservoirs have 2.5 million acre-feet less in storage than normal for this time of year, in part because we could not store flood waters from 2005-06.

Instead, we've been forced to release millions of gallons of water. The water released in 2005-06 to protect communities along our levees would have been more than enough to fill the proposed new reservoirs at Sites, Temperance Flat, and an expanded Los Vaqueros.

"Reservoirs should be paid for by local water agencies. "
Fact: The State Water Project was funded by the state Legislature. Critics point to Governor Pat Brown and the State Water Project as a model to replicate. The fact is this: The Legislature approved funding for the State Water Project before a single private contract was in-place to pay for any portion of it. Government leaders then had a vision for California's water infrastructure needs, and they took the lead in building reservoirs knowing that local governments and water agencies would pay their share of the costs commensurate with the benefits they received.

The Governor's plan to increase surface storage:
Provides California with an additional 3.3 million acre feet of storage capacity.
Secures clean, safe drinking water.
Surface storage is a savings account we can call on if an emergency, like flooding or a levee breach, threatens our water supplies. Twenty-five million Californians rely on the Delta for drinking water. A flood or levee breach would contaminate water supplies and hurt delivery.

Helps the environment. Environmental water from these reservoirs can be used to: Keep cold water flowing in rivers during spawning season for salmon; keep drinking water safe from saltwater intrusion in the Delta; and make critical water deliveries to Central and Southern California if and when pumps are idled to protect tiny Delta Smelt from extinction.

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