Senate President pro tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) told an audience of water agency officials Wednesday that the water infrastructure bond on the 2014 ballot could be amended to add provisions that would “operationalize the rules of the game” when the twin Delta tunnels are completed. Speaking at the Association of California Water Agencies’ conference in Sacramento about both the water bond and the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), Steinberg said, “Let’s be honest. They’re not separate. One really doesn’t happen without the other in this environment in my view…”
The five-bill water agreement approved by the Legislature in 2009 includes the water bond, which still must be approved by voters, and four policy bills establishing new policy for Delta governance, groundwater measurement, urban and agricultural conservation requirements and water rights enforcement. The BDCP, which will include permits to construct and operate twin tunnels under the Delta that would restore water supply reliability for cities and farms south of the Delta, is proceeding on its own with strong support from Governor Jerry Brown and federal officials. While the 2009 legislation allows for the newly-created Delta Stewardship Council to incorporate BDCP into its Delta Plan, the BDCP can be permitted whether it is part of the Delta Plan or not.
Steinberg’s comments suggest a serious departure from this central tenet of the 2009 agreement and add a major new complication to negotiations on potential changes to the water bond. WG strongly supports the BDCP and is engaged in discussions with legislators and other interests to protect the agreements reached in 2009.
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