THE CALFED BALANCING ACT
On October 6th, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2828,
a bill authorizing $395 million for the CALFED program. Included
in the projects to be specifically funded in the bill is the Family
Water Alliance (FWA) Sacramento River Small Diversion Fish Screen
Program. CALFED, the state and federal water program designed to
address California’s water supply, water quality, levee stability,
and environmental problems in the Delta, has prodded along in recent
years without federal funding due to lack of authorization from
Congress. However, if the bill is signed into law by President Bush,
as anticipated, it will, among other things, provide funding to
further studies to promote much needed water storage in California.
Much of the debate in regard to the federal funding regarding CALFED
centered around the imbalance with which the program had been functioning.
Most of the CALFED resources to date have been allocated towards
environmental restoration and land acquisitions, while ignoring
the negative impacts caused on rural communities within the CALFED
solution area (the Sacramento Valley), neglecting the furtherance
of water storage, and providing little funding to improve levee
stability. This belied the promises that this program would assure
that "we all will get better together".
In the summer of 2003, FWA, at the request of Congressman Richard
Pombo and Congressman Ken Calvert (authors of HR 2828), testified
before a Congressional Subcommittee at a field hearing on these
What resulted from the field hearings was a bill that requires
more balance in the program. The final version of the bill instructs
the Secretary of the Interior to annually certify that all aspects
of the CALFED Program are moving along together, thus assuring that
storage cannot continue to fall by the wayside, otherwise the Secretary
is to take steps to remedy the imbalance. What had been proposed
by the authors, and unfortunately did not make it into the final
version of the bill due to opposition in the Senate, was a mechanism
of preauthorization for water storage projects.
FWA greatly appreciates the efforts of Congressman Pombo and Congressman
Calvert, which hopefully will result in furthering the goal of new
water storage to address the need of increased water supply reliability
for agriculture, cities, and the environment.
Moreover, the passage of this bill will enable FWA to continue
its Small Diversion Fish Screen Program, which has successfully
screened 21 agricultural diversions to date. FWA was recently awarded
the 2004 Environmental Stewardship Award by the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration for this Program, which serves to
protect the fishery resource, while simultaneously protecting agricultural
operations that rely on small riparian diversions without fear of
coming into conflict with the Endangered Species Act.
This is the type of win-win solution that FWA believes promotes
"responsible environmentalism", and that the CALFED program
was created to foster.
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