Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) today delivered the following testimony at the State Water Resources Control Board public workshop regarding the possibility of altering the Sacramento River Temperature Management Plan:
“Thank you for giving me an opportunity to speak on an issue which is of great importance to my district. The revised temperature plan for the Sacramento River to increase and manage the cold water pool at Shasta Reservoir for a longer period of time into the fall will cause a decrease in water availability to Central Valley Water Project interests including, Sacramento River contractors and settlement holders, South of Delta contractors, Exchange Contractors, and municipal and industrial water users.
“For the past two months, South of Delta Central Valley Project contractors and Exchange Contractors have planned and relied upon the original temperature plan for decisions concerning cropping and water use. The radical reduction from the originally planned “summer” releases will seriously diminish previously anticipated pumping and potentially reduces it to zero or a minimal amount.
“This circumstance imperils existing crops already planted and the viability of other water uses during the summer. There is already a projected shortage of over 100,000 acre-feet South of the Delta by the end of August to meet current crop requirements and other needs. This shortage would not occur absent the change in the temperature plan.
“Reduced Shasta outflows also may require the Bureau of Reclamation and Department of Water Resources to release more water from Folsom Reservoir and Reservoir Oroville to repel salinity downstream in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Water agencies in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys provided estimate the total cost of lost water and farm production would be in the range of $3.5 billion to $4.5 billion and an additional 485,000 acres of fallowed farmland. The spillover effect on the state’s non-agriculture economic sectors cost on California’s economy $2.7 billion and the loss of nearly 19,000 full- and part-time jobs.
“In Merced County the unemployment rate is still in the double digits. The economic impacts from suspending the Shasta Temperature plan would harm an already distressed area. Farmers relied on the previous plan when they made decisions on what to plant and how much to plant. Now the state has suspended the plans which the farmers relied upon to their detriment.
“You must take into consideration the potential devastating economic impacts as you work on a revised temperature plan and I encourage you to work will all parties affected by the decisions that will be made.”