Gen­eral Man­agers Is­sue Joint State­ment Op­pos­ing Wa­ter Plan

Escalon Times - - NEWS -

In re­sponse to what they have termed the state’s “wa­ter grab” and in a co­or­di­nated, on­go­ing ef­fort to “Save the Stan,” Oak­dale Ir­ri­ga­tion District Gen­eral Man­ager Steve Knell and South San Joaquin Ir­ri­ga­tion District Gen­eral Man­ager Peter Ri­etk­erk have jointly re­leased a re­port iden­ti­fy­ing their con­cerns with the plan.

Ac­cord­ing to the gen­eral man­agers, “Any rea­son­able and im­par­tial cost ben­e­fit analysis of the state’s pro­posal to un­fairly di­vert bil­lions of gal­lons of wa­ter a year from the Stanis­laus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers would quickly reach the same con­clu­sion as tens of thou­sands of Cal­i­for­ni­ans: the plan fails on vir­tu­ally ev­ery mea­sure­able level.”

The joint re­port goes on to say:

It seeks to flush more than an ex­tra 300,000 acre-feet of wa­ter down the three rivers – enough to serve about one mil­lion fam­i­lies – in a my­opic and sci­en­tif­i­cally un­sup­ported ef­fort to cre­ate an ad­di­tional 1,100 salmon.

The Oak­dale and South San Joaquin ir­ri­ga­tion dis­tricts’ analysis of the state’s unim­paired flows plan reaf­firms what other re­gional wa­ter ex­perts, busi­ness and po­lit­i­cal lead­ers, or­ga­ni­za­tions rep­re­sent­ing farm­ers, in­de­pen­dent econ­o­mists and av­er­age cit­i­zens all agree on – the state’s scheme is a full frontal at­tack on agri­cul­ture in the Cen­tral Val­ley. The State Wa­ter Re­sources Con­trol Board took eight years and spent more than $70 mil­lion to cre­ate its plan with­out once con­sid­er­ing in­put from the peo­ple in the re­gion di­rectly af­fected. Re­gional in­ter­ests, in­clud­ing our dis­tricts, had less than six months to re­spond by the March 17 dead­line.

Here is what our analysis, sent last week to the state, shows:

The state’s plan is an eco­nomic catas­tro­phe for San Joaquin, Stanis­laus and Merced coun­ties. Our analysis fore­casts an eco­nomic loss of $12.9 bil­lion in the first year higher flows would be re­quired. That in­cludes sig­nif­i­cant losses in ag out­put ($2 bil­lion), to­tal in­come ($4.78 bil­lion) thanks in part to 4,000 fewer jobs, prop­erty val­ues ($4.94 bil­lion) and taxes ($1.18 bil­lion). The state min­i­mizes the re­gional eco­nomic im­pact at $106.2 mil­lion.

Ag and res­i­den­tial cus­tomers in the OID and SSJID ser­vice ar­eas face 20 per­cent an­nual re­duc­tions (from 600,000 acre-feet to 480,000 AF) in wa­ter al­lot­ments dur­ing “nor­mal” years; cuts would be more se­vere dur­ing times of drought. The dis­tricts would go from 535,000 AF to 236,000 AF in “dry” and “crit­i­cally dry” years.

New Melones Reser­voir would go dry 12 times out of ev­ery 95 years.

Ground­wa­ter pump­ing across the re­gion would in­crease dra­mat­i­cally, to as much as 1.57 mil­lion acrefeet in se­quen­tial dry years. The state es­ti­mates cities and farm­ers would only pump 105,000 acre-feet a year.

More than 132,000 acres of farm­land would be fal­lowed across the re­gion be­cause sur­face wa­ter de­liv­er­ies would be lost or re­duced and grow­ers with ac­cess to ground­wa­ter couldn’t af­ford to pump it. The state’s es­ti­mate is less than 24,000 acres.

OID and SSJID would for­feit key rev­enue streams that help keep rates af­ford­able for all our cus­tomers. Com­bined, there would be a loss in the abil­ity to pro­duce as much as $10 mil­lion in clean hy­dro­elec­tric power a year from fa­cil­i­ties at New Melones and Tul­loch reser­voirs. In ad­di­tion, there would be no op­por­tu­nity to trans­fer sur­plus sur­face wa­ter from our dis­tricts to other wa­ter agen­cies, a $3 mil­lion to $5 mil­lion an­nual hit for each district and a re­duc­tion in crit­i­cal wa­ter sup­ply for ar­eas of need in Cal­i­for­nia.

It is un­for­tu­nate that so much of the prac­ti­cal wa­ter man­age­ment his­tory our dis­tricts and other wa­ter agen­cies have on our rivers has been dis­re­garded. The state wa­ter board should ob­jec­tively eval­u­ate all the pub­lic com­ments it has re­ceived from our re­gion and pro­duce a plan that seeks vi­a­bil­ity for both lo­cal fish­eries and the re­gional econ­omy.

The South San Joaquin Ir­ri­ga­tion District was es­tab­lished in 1909 and is lo­cated in Man­teca. It pro­vides agri­cul­tural ir­ri­ga­tion wa­ter to about 55,000 acres in Escalon, Ripon and Man­teca. In 2005, the district be­gan pro­vid­ing whole­sale do­mes­tic wa­ter ser­vice to var­i­ous cities within San Joaquin County. The Oak­dale Ir­ri­ga­tion District was cre­ated in 1909 and pro­vides agri­cul­tural wa­ter to about 62,000 acres in north­east­ern Stanis­laus County and south­east­ern San Joaquin County.

OID and SSJID hold se­nior wa­ter rights on the Stanis­laus River. For more than 100 years, our agen­cies have re­spon­si­bly de­liv­ered sur­face wa­ter to farms in San Joaquin and Stanis­laus coun­ties, and for SSJID, thou­sands of homes in San Joaquin County. We are com­mit­ted to sen­si­ble wa­ter poli­cies, in­no­va­tive ir­ri­ga­tion tech­niques, pru­dent con­ser­va­tion prac­tices, and im­por­tant in­vest­ments in bi­o­log­i­cal stud­ies of the river and fish habi­tat.

Save the Stan is a pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion ef­fort by SSJID and OID to in­form Cal­i­for­ni­ans about the threat posed by in­creased flows on the Stanis­laus River. For more in­for­ma­tion, go to www.savethes­tan.org or our Face­book page.

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