council readies ambitious water plan
El Nino has come and gone, but it hasn’t quenched California’s thirst for robust debate over how to manage our water resources. And the Bay Area Council, whose Executive Committee under the leadership of Chair Michael Covarrubias of TMG Partners made water one of our top policy issues, is working to influence the outcome. The debate was roused this week when Sen. Dianne Feinstein sent an open letter to President Obama requesting that he direct federal agencies to “maximize pumping in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the maximum extent allowed under the Endangered Species Act.” Feinstein noted that while El Nino tripled the amount of water flowing through the Delta, the volume being pumped for various uses increased only a fraction. Still, the letter touched off a response from environmentalists and several Congressional legislators who argue that keeping current restrictions in place are important for helping endangered fish species recover from years of drought.
The Council’s Water Committee under the leadership of Co-Chairs Jim Levine of Montezuma Wetlands and Andy Ball of Suffolk Construction and California Water Commission member, is currently focused on developing an ambitious plan that would balance competing demands on the state’s water. Levine presented his plan to the Council’s Executive Committee on Thursday (March 24) and for the past several months has been meeting with high-level public and private sector stakeholders to get their input. The plan take a diverse portfolio approach that combines ambitious environmental restoration and water-for-fish targets, across-the-board conservation goals and major new investments in storage, conveyance and recycling infrastructure. To engage in the Council’s water policy work, please contact Policy Director Adrian Covert.