Governor's Budget Affirms CALFED Safeguards, Says NRDC

Statement by Barry Nelson, NRDC Senior Policy Analyst

SAN FRANCISCO (May 14, 2004) - Gov. Schwarzenegger's May Revision proposed $381 million for the CALFED Bay-Delta Program. Below is a statement by Barry Nelson, a senior policy analyst with NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council).

"The governor's budget upholds two important safeguards in the CALFED Record of Decision (ROD). These safeguards are needed to restore the San Francisco Bay-Delta and ensure a clean, reliable water supply, while protecting California taxpayers.

"First, the administration said it supports enactment of a water user fee to provide adequate funding for ecosystem restoration. These funds could be used to restore the San Joaquin River, improve water quality and protect habitat for fish and wildlife.

"Second, the administration said it supports the CALFED 'beneficiaries pay' principle. This principle was included in the CALFED ROD to ensure that those who receive the water, rather than taxpayers, pay for any new dam projects in California. This sound financing principle will scuttle many damaging and expensive projects currently under evaluation. The CALFED ROD calls for studying the feasibility of five potential surface storage projects: raising Shasta Dam, building Sites Reservoir, expanding Los Vaqueros Reservoir, building storage on the Upper San Joaquin River and building a storage facility on a delta island. The CALFED ROD does not, however, commit to building any of these projects. Although some of these studies are still in the early phases, all of these projects would likely produce water at costs far too high to make economic sense. That's why project proponents refuse to say they are willing to pay for them. The 'beneficiaries pay' principle protects California taxpayers from the staggering costs of boondoggle projects."