SB 1 Places Our Environment and Economy at Risk. Let’s Fix It

  • by Dave Eggerton
  • Sep 10, 2019
  • Voices on Water

Many water systems rely on certainty in the Delta to provide millions of Californians and businesses throughout the state with the water they need to fuel our economy and grow our nation’s food supplies. Decisions on how much water to pump, and when, should not be political ones. They should be based on the best science available to protect fish and ecosystems, while ensuring reliable water supplies for two-thirds of the state.

A bill dangerously close to passage in the Legislature would constrain how the backbone of the state water system is operated out of fear that the federal government will shift operations in a way that will harm the environment. This is a classic case of unintended consequences, politics feeding more politics in a way that could destabilize water supplies for many Californians for years to come.

Senate Bill 1, authored by the Senate’s leader, President pro Tem Toni Atkins of San Diego, seeks to freeze a variety of federal laws and regulations in their place. In particular it seeks to lock in operating rules for the state and federal water projects in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the State Water Project and Central Valley Project, that were last revised 10 years ago.

Since then, California ratepayers for the State Water Project and Central Valley Project have been investing hundreds of millions of dollars to better understand how to operate these critical water supply projects in ways that minimize impacts to fish and wildlife. SB 1 would throw the last 10 years of evolving science in the Delta out the window and prohibit smarter ways to operate these systems. The bill would also mandate that state law preempt operations of the federal project, a possibly unlawful proposition that courts would undoubtedly have to sort out.

The greater danger of SB 1 is the domino effect it would have in managing water supplies for most Californians.

Public water agencies serving the vast majority of Californians, along with state water agencies and environmental organizations, are presently working with the Newsom Administration to develop voluntary agreements to better manage the waters of the Sierra Nevada for both the environment and the economy. This would replace a top-down approach promulgated by the State Water Board. These agreements would be historic and settle decades-long water disputes, requiring water users to provide more beneficial water supplies for the environment and fund more expansive habitat restoration for fish. SB 1 could compromise this effort and hamper any flexibility in providing water for the environment and hundreds of millions of dollars for science and habitat.

Fortunately, the Legislature can address these concerns. The Association of California Water Agencies, along with a large coalition of water and business interests, have suggested amendments that would prevent SB 1 from derailing the voluntary agreements, while still allowing California to fully maintain environmental protections in the event of federal rollbacks. These amendments offer a reasonable path forward, ensuring the best for our environment, economy and water supplies throughout the state.

SB 1 intends to maintain the status quo, but on the Delta, the status quo is failing all interests. Over the last decade, fish populations have declined and water supply has been at risk. We need new solutions. A comprehensive approach to managing the Delta is nearing the finish line. But right now, SB 1 stands in the way.

If the Legislature does not fix SB 1, this bill won’t protect the Delta. Instead, it would create unnecessary regulatory uncertainty, placing both our environment and economy at risk.

Suggested Resources

15 RESOURCES prev next
Webinar: Communicating During a Crisis

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Coalition Letter: Coronavirus Response Act; Water Sector Sick Leave

To: Leader McConnell, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, and Leader McCarthy Subject: We, the nation’s public water sector, write to alert […]

Comment Letter: ACWA Comments on State Wetland Definition

Agency: State Water Resources Control Board Subject: Draft Guidance for the State Wetland Definition and Procedures for Discharges of Dredge […]

Webinar: Learn How to Apply for the $830M SGIP Funds

ACWA hosted a webinar on March 11 to discuss the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP), which has $830 million in funding […]

Federal Regulatory Issues Chart

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Comment letter: ACWA Comments on De-Energization

Agency: California Public Utilities Commission Subject: Association of California Water Agencies Comments on Proposed Additional Modified De-Energization Guidelines and Files […]

Priority Issues Bulletin

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Recommendations for Resilient Headwaters

ACWA’s headwater documents showcase the importance of improved headwaters management. Benefits include increased water yield and quality, enhanced natural features […]

Improved Management of California’s Headwaters

  Improved Management of California’s Headwaters outlines ACWA’s updated Headwaters Policy Principles, which were adopted by the ACWA Board of […]

Comment letter: ACWA Comments on Draft Water Resilience Portfolio

To: Nancy Vogel, Director of the Governor’s Water Portfolio Program Subject: Association of California Water Agencies’ Comments regarding the Draft […]

Comment Letter: ACWA Joint Comments on Draft Policy for the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund

Agency: State Water Resources Control Board Subject: Draft Policy for Developing the Fund Expenditure Plan for the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water […]

ACWA’s Five-Year Strategic Plan

ACWA’s five-year strategic plan will afford the association the benefit of a broader forecast of resources, as well as the […]

Comment Letter: ACWA Comments on Urban Water Conservation Reporting

Agency: State Water Resources Control Board Subject: Proposed Urban Water Conservation Reporting Regulations Description: ACWA provided public comment on the proposed urban […]

Federal Legislative Matrix

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Comment Letter: ACWA Comments on Public Health Goals for PFAS

Agency: Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment Subject: Public Health Goals for perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate Description: ACWA provided public comment […]

Suggested News

15 Articles prev next
Virtual Water Surveys Available For PWD Customers

PALMDALE – Palmdale Water District (PWD) customers can now receive web-based assistance from a Water-Use Efficiency Specialist to ensure they […]

Yuba Water Agency makes investment in water education center, curriculum for area schools

In its first major move toward building a water education center and developing unique lessons to enhance Yuba County schools, […]

Governor Prohibits Water Shutoffs by Urban and Community Water Systems

In relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an Executive Order on April 2 that suspends the authority […]

Illustrating the Power of Collaboration to Restore Salmon Runs

One of a number of habitat restoration success stories includes ongoing collaborative work to bring back the salmon population on […]

ACWA Webinar Will Highlight Agency Operations During COVID-19 Crisis

ACWA will host an informational webinar on April 9 titled, “COVID-19 Response: Rising to Meet New Challenges,” to help member […]

Valley Water Employing Virtual Tours to Continue Public Outreach

Valley Water is now offering holistic virtual tours of its water infrastructure where Santa Clara County residents can discover how […]

Help shape the future, Western reminds you to be counted during the 2020 Census

RIVERSIDE – Western Municipal Water District (Western) reminds its customers to participate in the 2020 Census. The 2020 Census is […]

Western Municipal Water District declares local state of emergency

RIVERSIDE – The Western Municipal Water District (Western) Board of Directors on Wednesday, April 1, adopted Resolution 3112 declaring a […]

Don’t get fooled by water quality and customer information scams, Western warns

RIVERSIDE – Western Municipal Water District (Western) is urging customers to beware of calls, emails or visits from scammers claiming […]

TUD Continues Providing Essential Services During COVID-19

Tuolumne Utilities District (TUD or District) continues to respond 24/7 to emergencies and provide essential water and wastewater services to […]

Elk Grove Water District Water Quality and Supply Amid COVID-19

On March 16, 2020, the Elk Grove Water District (EGWD) announced that it will be implementing Risk Level 3, as […]

Elk Grove Water District Suspends Penalties Fees and Terminations

On March 19, 2020 the Sacramento County Health Officer issued a stay-at-home directive halting all business within the County except […]

Elk Grove Water District Offices Temporarily Closed to the Public

Effective March 17, 2020, the Elk Grove Water District (EGWD) will be temporarily the health and safety of its customers […]

State Issues Permit for Long-Term Operations of the State Water Project

SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) on Tuesday issued an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) to the Department […]

March Precipitation Not Enough to Offset Dry Winter

SACRAMENTO – The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today conducted the fourth manual snow survey of 2020 at Phillips Station. […]