Bill Regarding Bay-Delta Plan and Water Rights Fails

  • by ACWA staff
  • Jun 1, 2022
  • Water News

A bill that would have had profound negative impacts on water management in California, failed to pass out of the Assembly on May 26, effectively stopping the legislation.

AB 2639, authored by Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), would have created unworkable deadlines for updating and implementing the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta Estuary Water Quality Control Plan (Bay-Delta Plan or Plan). The bill would have also halted the State Water Resources Control Board’s approval of new water right permits for diversions from the Bay-Delta watershed to surface storage until the State Water Board met the bill’s proposed requirements.

ACWA had provided recommended amendments to the author. The author had accepted one amendment (to delete the proposal to have the water right permit provision additionally apply to extensions of time) but had rejected the other amendments.

ACWA staff led the oppose-unless-amended coalition against the bill. More than 30 ACWA member agencies signed onto coalition letters and floor alerts, as well as contacted local legislators through letters and phone calls to express their concerns with the bill. Other statewide associations also participated in the coalition, including the California Chamber of Commerce, California Farm Bureau, California Municipal Utilities Association and Western Growers.

The Assembly took up the bill the morning of May 26, and there was a long floor debate, including significant opposition from nine Legislators from both sides of the aisle. For example, both Assembly members Adam Gray (D-Merced) and Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield) raised the issue of the impact of the bill on communities that need surface water supplies. Gray referenced his suggested amendments, which focused on the impact to disadvantaged communities.

The first vote was 30-23, with 41 votes required for passage. The bill was placed on call and taken up again at about 8:50 p.m. on Thursday. The bill was defeated, with the final recorded vote being 34 aye votes, 26 no votes, and 18 abstentions.

“ACWA appreciates all of the Legislators who recognized that this bill would have had serious negative impacts on water management in California,” said ACWA Deputy Executive Director for Government Relations Cindy Tuck.

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