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Summary of the Sac Delta and Salmon Preservation Act

Summary of the Sac Delta and Salmon Preservation Act

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Published by Cannon Michael
Legislative Summary of a bill proposed by Devin Nunes
Legislative Summary of a bill proposed by Devin Nunes

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Published by: Cannon Michael on Nov 04, 2011
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Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA)Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Salmon Preservation Act (Legislative Summary)112
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Salmon Preservation Act
Since the construction of the federal Central Valley Project, California’s water needs havegrown dramatically while supplies have stayed virtually steady. In the past few years, wesaw capricious curtailment of water deliveries to California communities with the goal of preserving the lifecycle of Pacific salmon and the Delta smelt. Such curtailments costthousands of jobs, inflicted up to 40 percent unemployment in some towns, and fallowedhundreds of thousands of acres of fertile farmland.During this time, the Federal government has ignored thousands of in-Delta waterdiversions that have significantly impacted Delta water quality and fish habitat.Furthermore, federal law continues to allow the City of San Francisco to flood the famousHetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park so they can divert pristine Toulumne River water around the Delta to provide drinking water to its residents. Both of these actionshave evaded the Endangered Species Act and eliminated vital freshwater flows into theDelta which could be used to protect Pacific salmon and Delta smelt. The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Salmon Preservation Act will close legal loopholes which have been exploited by wealthy Delta farmers and the social elite in San Francisco. The bill requires both Delta farmers and the City of San Francisco to abide by theEndangered Species Act and ensure they pay their fair share to restore the water quality inthe Delta.
Regulation and Measurement of in-Delta Water Diversions 
According to the Coalition for a Sustainable Delta:
“Some 2,000-3,000 largely agricultural, unscreened and unregulated water diversions currently operate in the Delta. A 1993 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listing of the delta smelt estimated that local in-Delta diverters export up to 5,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) from the Delta - or almost half as much as the combined federal and state  pumping plants maximum export rate of up to 11,000 cfs.The number of agricultural in-Delta diversions has expanded over the past decade and therefore, the rate of unscreened and unregulated diversions has likely increased. Unscreened in-Delta diversions impact the delta smelt through entrainment and hydrodynamic influence. Moreover, state and federal regulators have expended little or no effort to date to regulate or monitor these diversions in order to slow the decline of endangered species.” 
While a 2009 California water law created a Delta Watermaster with the authority to monitor andenforce state law on water diversions, little to nothing has been done by the Delta Watermaster to
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA)Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Salmon Preservation Act (Legislative Summary)112
address this pervasive problem. Yet the federal and state pumping operations at the south end of the Delta have had to comply with stringent federal biological decisions put in place under theauspices of the Endangered Species Act. This uneven application of the law must end. This act will require the Secretary of the Interior to investigate all in-Delta water diversion facilitiesto determine compliance with the Endangered Species Act. Those facilities that are found to be outof compliance shall be required to obtain an Endangered Species Act incidental take permit.Furthermore, the act requires any facility required to obtain an incidental take permit install a water measuring device and report to the Secretary of the Interior monthly detailing the quantitiesof water diverted.
Regulation and Annual Rental Fee of Hetch Hetchy Water and Power System 
According to theadvocacy group RestoreHetch Hetchy:
“Situated inside Yosemite National Park, the Hetch Hetchy Valley was described by John Muir as “one of nature’s rarest and most  precious mountain temples.” The pristine Tuolumne River flowed along the valley floor, surrounded by flowered meadows and ancient forests which teemed with bears and bobcats, rushes and eagles. Indeed, Hetch Hetchy Valley was considered one of the most unique and diverse ecosystems in the world. Initially protected by the establishment of Yosemite National Park, in 1913 the city of San Francisco won congressional approval to build the O’Shaughnessy Dam which buried this extraordinary wilderness valley under 300 feet of water.” 
 The Bathtub Ring of Hetch Hetchy Valley inside Yosemite National Park
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA)Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Salmon Preservation Act (Legislative Summary)112
Since the construction of the Hetch Hetchy Water and Power System a century ago, theenvironmental damage to our nation’s flagship National Park has never been mitigated. Thediversion of pristine Toulumne River water around the Delta directly to the taps of San Francisco,San Mateo, Santa Clara (Silicon Valley), and Alameda (Oakland and Berkley) Counties residents
 has contributed to diminishing water quality in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and put anumber of endangered species at risk throughout the Stanislaus County water shed. To add insult to injury the Raker Act, enacted nearly 100 years ago, mandated that the City of SanFrancisco pay the Department of the Interior a meager annual charge of $30,000 for the easementto use Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park as a water reservoir. Even with the negativeeffects to the environment, this annual charge, set in the early 1910s, has never increased.Nearly forty years after the enactment of the Endangered Species Act, the Sacramento-San JoaquinDelta and Salmon Preservation Act will require the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission(SFPUC) to abide by our nation’s environmental laws and obtain an Endangered Species Actincidental take permit. This is the first step in reversing the environmental damage the HetchHetchy Water and Power System has caused.Moreover, the act mandates the SFPUC pay the fair market value for the use of Yosemite NationalPark and its resources. This is done through a “Net Benefits Methodology” developed by theNational Park Service to determine the annual permit fee for a hydroelectric facility within Sequoiaand Kings Canyon National Park.Of the charges paid through the “Net Benefits Methodology”, seventy-five percent shall be depositedinto a restoration fund which can be used to buyout salmon fishing permits, build salmon andDelta smelt hatcheries, and conduct salmon and Delta smelt restoration programs.
Net Benefits Methodology
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park 
 Hydro Facility:
Kaweah #3
 Annual Permit Fee:
$1.4 Million
Yosemite National Park 
 Hydro Facility:
O’Shaughnessy Dam
 Estimated Annual Permit Fee:
$28 Million
According to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission they
“are the third largest municipal utility in California, serving 2.5million residential, commercial, and industrial customers in the Bay Area. Approximately one-third of our delivered water goes toretail customers in San Francisco, while wholesale deliveries to 28 suburban agencies in Alameda, Santa Clara, and San Mateocounties comprise the other two-thirds. The Hetch Hetchy watershed, an area located in Yosemite National Park, providesapproximately 85% of San Francisco's total water needs. Spring snowmelt runs down the Tuolumne River and fills Hetch Hetchy, thelargest reservoir in the Hetch Hetchy water system. This surface water in the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir is treated, but not filtered because it is of such high quality.”
The service area includes the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, Alameda County WaterDistrict, Brisbane, Burlingame, California Water System Bear Gulch, California Water System Mid Peninsula, California WaterSystem South San Francisco, Coastside County Water District, Daly City, East Palo Alto Water District, Estero MID, GuadalupeValley, Hayward, Hillsborough, Menlo Park, Mid-Peninsula, Millbrae, Milpitas, Mountain View, North Coast County Water District,Palo Alto, Purissima Hills Water District, Redwood City, San Bruno, San Jose (North), Santa Clara, Skyline Water District, Stanford,Sunnyvale, Westborough Water District. (http://www.sfwater.org/index.aspx?page=355)

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