Billion Here, Billion There — Pretty Soon, Real Money
Both of the recently introduced $9.4 billion general obligations bonds to fund a variety of water-related projects would spend $1.5 billion on dirt.
In his bond proposal, SB3 7X, Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, a Sacramento Democrat, calls its “Statewide Watershed and Water Quality Protections.
In the bond introduced by Sen. Dave Cogdill, a Fresno Republican, it is called “Conservation and Watershed Protection.”
But it’s dirt nonetheless.
Watershed is defined as “the entire geographical area drained by a river and its tributaries; an area characterized by all runoff being conveyed to the same outlet.”
That would be dirt.
And the bond measures are fairly specific about what dirt they want protected.
Section 79750 of Cogdill’s measure, SB2 7X, is Section 79760 of Steinberg’s bill in that both begin by saying the $1.5 billion will be spent on “grants for ecosystem and watershed protection and restoration projects including but not limited to, all of the following watersheds:
(a) The San Joaquin River watershed.
(b) The Kern River and Tulare Basin watersheds.
(c) The Salton Sea and Colorado River watersheds.
(d) The Los Angeles River watershed.
(e) The San Gabriel River watershed.
(f) The Santa Ana River watershed.
(g) The Klamath River watershed, including the Trinity, Scott, and Shasta Rivers and watersheds.
(h) The North Coast watersheds.
(i) The San Francisco Bay watersheds.
(j) The Central Coast watersheds.
(k) The South Coast watersheds.
(l) The Lake Tahoe Basin watershed.
(m) The Sacramento River watershed, including the Yolo Bypass.
(n) The San Diego County coastal watersheds.
(o) The Ventura River watershed.
(p) The Sierra Nevada Mountain watersheds.
(q) The Mojave River watershed.
(r) The Owens River watershed.
(s) The Santa Monica Bay watershed.
(t) The watersheds of Marin County.
(u) The watersheds of Orange County.
That’s a lot of dirt.
The following three to four pages of each bill – Cogdill’s runs 21 8.5” x 11” pages, Steinberg’s 17 – detail even more minutely where the $1.5 billion is going, should lawmakers pass one of the measures and voters approve it in November 2010.
In Cogdill’s bill, $65 million would be given to the Department of Fish and Game for “expenditures and grants to protect the Delta ecosystem and the state’s water supply from invasive species, including, but not limited to, asiatic clams, zebra
mussels, quagga mussels, and New Zealand mud snails.”
(Editor’s Note: Dare one say, the dreaded New Zealand mud snails. And, in this enlightened era, why single out the Asiatic clams?)
Cogdill would also give “at least” – that’s what the bill says — $35 million in taxpayer money to “public agencies, including water agencies, to pay for capital expenditures associated with the control of invasive species, including, but not limited to, chlorination facilities, habitat modifications, and monitoring equipment.”
Those would be water agencies with the ability to raise revenue by increasing the fees of their users.
Section 79755 of Cogdill’s bill bestows $200 million on the State Coastal Conservancy. Steinberg hands them $250 million in his Section 79764.
Cogdill would give $100 million to the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection – a major presence in his rural district – for “fuel treatment and forest restoration projects to protect watersheds tributary to dams or reservoirs from the adverse impacts of fire and erosion, to promote forest health in those watersheds, to protect life and property, to provide for climate change adaptation and reduce total wildfire costs and losses.”
There’s a lengthy report by the U.S. Forest Service on the Angora fire that occurred in Lake Tahoe in 2007. The phrase “fuel treatment” is used routinely but never defined.
Fuel treatment means cutting down small trees and brush that allow flames to leap from the ground into the forest canopy.
Would the casual reader be stunned that no such allocation exists in Steinberg’s bill?
Steinberg gives $100 million to the Wildlife Conservation Board to buy water rights from anyone who wants to sell them. Cogdill, a paltry $20 million.
But both agree – Cogdill in Section 79757 and Steinberg in Section 79768 that only $250 million be spent on dam removal on the Klamath River. Dam removal is a key feature of the recent deal inked regarding the river’s future.
There are conditions, though:
“(a) The State of California, the State of Oregon, the United States, and PacifiCorp have executed a dam removal agreement.
(b) The State of California, the State of Oregon, and the United States have made the determinations required under the agreement to effect dam removal.
(c) Ratepayer funds required by the agreement have been authorized and will be timely provided.
(d) All other conditions required in the agreement have been met.”
Thank God. Wouldn’t want to just throw taxpayer money away, would we?
Filed under: Venting
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