Senate Committee to Hear Covered Actions Exemption Bill

Legislation that would exempt some developments and projects in the Delta from having to comply with the proposed Delta Plan is set for hearing June 26 in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee.

AB 1095 by Assembly Members Bill Berryhill (R-Stockton) and Joan Buchanan (D-San Ramon) would exclude certain projects and activities from the definition of “covered action.” Under the Delta Reform Act of 2009, state or local agencies that propose a “covered action” within the boundaries of the Delta or Suisun Marsh are required to certify to the Delta Stewardship Council that the action is consistent with the Delta Plan. The consistency determination can be appealed by any person who claims the covered action is inconsistent with the Delta Plan and would have a significant adverse impact on achieving the coequal goals of improved ecosystem health and water supply reliability.

Projects that would be exempt under AB 1095 include development  projects within the Delta’s secondary zone that are covered by a general plan or other development agreement; upgrades to existing drinking water, stormwater or wastewater treatment plants, storage facilities or conveyance facilities; and flood control projects that would protect urban or urbanizing areas or existing public infrastructure.

A coalition including ACWA and numerous water agency members opposes the bill, saying it would create exemptions so broad that they would undermine the state’s ability to advance the coequal goals. Opponents also say the measure is premature since the Delta Stewardship Council has not yet adopted its Delta Plan and no actions have been subject to the consistency determination process to date. The council is expected to adopt a final Delta Plan later this year.

The coalition’s opposition letter to the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee can be read here.

The exemption language was amended into the bill on June 12. Prior to the amendments, the bill dealt with the California Air Resources Board.