InfrastructurePublic Policy ActionWater

LAEDC Signs Onto Letter with 14 Orgs Urging Emergency Drought Considerations

By April 4, 2014 No Comments

April 2, 2014

Dear Secretary Jewell and Secretary Pritzker,

We are writing to respectfully request that you evaluate the operating criteria that govern the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project so that California can take advantage of the spring storms that are even now moving through our state. Based on historical weather patterns, these storms could be our last chance to receive significant amounts of rain and snow for quite some time.

A reliable water supply is essential to maintaining California’s status as the world’s 9th largest economy. As you know, our state is suffering in the midst of an historic drought. Given the breadth and statewide impact of the crisis, the Regional Economic Association Leaders (R.E.A.L.) Coalition – an association of California’s most influential business and economic development entities, representing 21 member organizations and more than 11,000 employers who collectively provide more than 3 million California jobs – supports near-term emergency actions.

Biological opinions issued by your Departments regulate the amount of water that can be exported from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in order to protect endangered fish. Even though there is no apparent evidence of notable impacts to endangered fish, pumping is significantly curtailed – just as spring storms are moving through our state, providing much needed water. This loss is catastrophic; some of our affected counties have some of the highest unemployment rates in the country. We believe that in this crisis situation, a fairer allocation of risks based on the most current information available, is essential to meet your responsibilities to both the environment and our economy.

Specifically, we ask that you consider:
• That the best available scientific evidence shows that existing protections for endangered fish are more than adequate.
o Only 276 winter-run salmon have been taken at the pumps this year, just 1% of the safe and legal take limit of more than 24,000.
o No Spring Run Salmon have been taken
o No Adult Delta Smelt have been taken
o On Juvenile Delta Smelt have been taken
o Only 148 Steelhead Trout have been taken at the pumps this year, just 4.9% of the safe and legal take limit of more than 3,000.

• Directing your staff to use the best available and most current data in terms of evaluating how to protect endangered fish.

• Allowing increased pumping from the Delta and maximizing storage in upstream reservoirs to enable our state to provide water where it is most needed now and later this year.
Please note that this request should not be viewed as our position relative to environmental protection, except in a clear crisis situation. In fact, the R.E.A.L. Coalition acknowledges that the health of the environment and the reliability of our water supplies are inextricably linked and supports the co-equal goals of providing a more reliable water supply for California and protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem.

Further, we urge that all feasible measures be taken to avoid the necessity of crisis
management of this sort in the future, including adoption and implementation of a Bay Delta
Conservation Plan (BDCP) and the complimentary actions suggested in the Governor Brown’s
recent California Water Action Plan.

The latest spring storms are occurring now and we must take advantage of this opportunity.
You have the authority under law to take advantage of the rare, and likely last, opportunity this
year to bring relief to millions of Californians during this historic drought.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.

Lucy Dunn
President & CEO
Orange County Business Council

Carl Guardino
President and CEO
Silicon Valley Leadership Group

Paul Granillo
President & CEO
Inland Empire Economic Partnership

Billie Greer
Southern California Leadership Council

Al Smith
President & CEO
Greater Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce

Cynthia Murray
President & CEO
North Bay Leadership Council

Matthew R. Mahood
President & CEO
San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce

Jim Wunderman
President & CEO
Bay Area Council

Gary Toebben
President & CEO
Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce

Roger Niello
President and CEO
Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce