Lawmakers won’t decide canal plan
January 16, 2012
One of the state’s most enduringly controversial public works projects, the Peripheral Canal, took a subtle step forward last week after rejection of a proposal to put its future in the hands of the legislature.
An Assembly committee killed a plan to require lawmaker’s approval before construction of the Peripheral Canal could proceed. The project, touted as a key component of the State Water Project (SWP), would divert water for export south around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Water from the SWP could eventually augment San Luis Obispo County supplies by as much as 25,000 acre-feet annually.
Assemblywoman Alyson Huber (D-El Dorado Hills) wanted the legislature to have authority to bar construction of the canal if it would adversely affect the Delta or its residents’ water rights, quality, or supply.
The measure would have barred construction of such a canal if it would impact the Delta or its residents in ways ranging from imposing a financial burden to negatively affecting water rights, quality or supply.
A “Delta stewardship’ was established in 2009 to develop a long-term plan for water supply and environmental protection. That group is comprised of seven voting members, four appointed by the governor.
At present, heavy pumping of export water from the Delta during periods of shortage allows salt water to intrude into the Delta, endangering anadromous fish like striped bass, salmon, steelhead, and the Delta smelt.
Huber contends the legislature should have the final say for “one of the largest infrastructure projects in California history.”