Secretary Laird Highlights Water Issues, Encourages Involvement at Northern California Event

Natural Resources Secretary John Laird highlighted the Bay Delta Conservation Plan and the 2014 water bond in remarks at a Northern California event Sept. 18.

Addressing a group of local water and community leaders, Laird said the state now has a path for meeting the coequal goals established by the 2009 comprehensive water package. That path, he said, is the BDCP. “I feel good about this direction. It is science based,” he said.

Laird went on to say that over the last few months the administration has opened the BDCP process to improve transparency and stakeholder involvement and has released 10,000 pages of science documents. In July, Gov. Jerry Brown and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a general direction and a path forward with a project downsized from earlier versions.

He cautioned the audience to take a look at what is being proposed today and not to fall back to plans from the ’70s and ’80s. “We need to look at what we need to do for the next two generations,” he said, adding that we must also determine what reliably can be exported to water contractors and proceed with ecosystem restoration.

“We can't do one without the other,” he said. The environmental review process for the BDCP will describe the project options and begin later this fall, possibly in October. Laird also said that a finance plan must be developed that will hold everyone together.

Touching on the water bond now set for 2014, Laird said the measure was part of a total package when it was originally passed in 2009. The other pieces are already on an implementation path. He acknowledged there has been some criticism about parts of the bond, but noted, “We have two years to work on this. It is a matter of equity...a water bond has to touch everyone in the state, regardless if they get state water.”

Laird made his remarks at the “Water and Agriculture in Northern California” conference presented by the Mountain Counties Water Resources Association in cooperation with ACWA, Northern California Water Association, Sierra Nevada Conservancy and other entities. The event was held in Loomis to showcase the agricultural economy in Placer and surrounding counties.