Reclamation Board's Mission Remains Flood Control
AB 1983, a disconcerting proposal presented by Assemblywoman Lois
Wolk, that would have negatively impacted the flood control system
that protects farms, cities, and vital infrastructure, was held
under submission on August 12th due to a unanimous vote of the Senate
Appropriations Committee, effectively halting the furtherance of
this bill during the 2004 legislative session.
Family Water Alliance (FWA), in cooperation with a large coalition
of water, agriculture, and flood control interests, as well as local
governments and agencies, successfully voiced strong opposition
to this legislation. The opposition was due to the proposed amendments
to the Reclamation Board’s authority, changing its sole focus
from flood control, to include ecosystem restoration.
Special thanks must be given to State Senator Sam Aanestad, a member
of the Senate Appropriations Committee, who heard and understood
the concerns voiced by this constituency, and was instrumental in
working to assure that this proposal did not proceed. This development
can certainly be considered a victory for all of us living in the
Central Valley. However, this legislation is likely to rear its
ugly head again next year.
While FWA agrees with the stated intent of the legislation, removal
of institutional barriers that have slowed downed or blocked much
needed flood control projects and maintenance, the solution proposed
by Wolk, and supported by environmental groups such as The Nature
Conservancy, Sierra Club, and Friends of the River, is not the answer.
AB 1983 would have served to actually increase the institutional
hurdles needed to further much needed improvements to the flood
control system, caused a permanent conflict of interest between
flood control projects and ecosystem restoration, promoted river
meander, threatened vital hard points, and furthered the concept
of setback levees. Members of the informal coalition who share these
concerns welcomed the idea of expediting and streamlining the process
to achieve improvements to the flood control system, and offered
such an alternative solution, to no avail.
As such, FWA will continue to advocate against proposals such as
AB 1983, that fail to foster good policy regarding the maintenance
of the flood control system. This system must be (1) properly cared
for to preserve our ability to adequately convey flood waters, (2)
be managed in a manner that protects vital infrastructure like highways,
bridges and diversions, upon which the constituency of the region
relies, and (3) fosters an environment that does not negatively
impact our agricultural lands and private property rights.
While we have dodged the AB 1983 bullet for the time being, concerned
individuals throughout the region must remain vigilante in their
efforts to oppose this measure as currently proposed. FWA hopes
that the failure of this legislative proposal will ignite much needed
discussions that will finally address some of the issues that have
been ignored, or mired in a political stalemate, resulting in the
dangerous degradation of our flood control system.
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