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SRCSD Blasts Steinberg for Sponsoring Peripheral Canal Legislation
by Dan Bacher
Tuesday Nov 3rd, 2009 5:37 PM
The Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District (SRCSD) today blasted Senator Darrell Steinberg for sponsoring a water legislation package that promotes the construction of a peripheral canal while failing to protect Sacramento area residents and businesses, joining a growing chorus of Sacramento regional governments, Delta counties, environmental organizations, fishing groups, farming organizations and environmental justice organizations opposing the legislation.

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SRCSD Blasts Steinberg for Sponsoring Peripheral Canal Legislation

by Dan Bacher

The top of Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg's website proudly proclaims "Representing the Capital Region." However, it is clear from the massive opposition to his water legislation package from a growing chorus of Sacramento regional governments and a grassroots uprising by his constituents that Steinberg in no way "represents" the Capital Region, but is instead beholden by outside corporate interests that care nothing about the Sacramento Delta, its fish and its people.

Last night, the Senate passed Steinberg's SB 7X 1 and the corresponding water package bond to clear the path for building the peripheral canal and creating a Delta Stewardship Council that will extend the hand of Governor Schwarzenegger over California's water policy for years to come. The Governor appears to be obsessed with building the peripheral canal as a lasting monument to his "manhood" and monstrous ego - and Steinberg is the Democratic point man that Schwarzenegger is using to achieve his goal.

Today the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District (SRCSD) slammed Steinberg for sponsoring a water legislation package that promotes the construction of a peripheral canal and fails to protect Sacramento area residents and business.

"Despite repeated promises made in private meetings, email correspondence and public statements, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg failed to protect the 1.3 million residents and businesses sewer customers served by the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District (SRCSD) in his water legislation package," according to a news release from SRCSD.

"The District’s ask was simple: ensure that any changes required of SRCSD’s wastewater treatment operation as a result of the construction and operation of the peripheral canal be paid for by those who benefit from the canal," SRCSD stated. "Without express protection from the impacts of the proposed peripheral canal, SRCSD’s ratepayers will likely see their monthly sewer bills double or even triple. For residential customers that may be an extra $1,000 per year, for our largest industrial customers it will total millions."

The Pro Tem’s office promoted the fact that he had agreed to ensure such protection was in the legislation, as reported by the Sacramento Bee on October 10 and October 30. Not until Sunday evening, November 1, did that language appear in print in one of the water bills, according to SRCSD. The very next day a different version of the bill – one that did not include the protection language – was pushed forward and approved by the Senate.

“We feel like we were simply being strung along,” said Mary Snyder, SRCSD District Engineer. “We held off on our opposition and advocacy efforts because we trusted Senator Steinberg and believed he would uphold his promise. We were wrong.”

"SRCSD now joins the very large chorus of Sacramento regional interests who oppose this water package," SRCSD stated. "The region’s opposition has been unfairly and inaccurately characterized as 'north vs. south' mentality. Our goal is not to stop a water deal – it is to make sure the deal is not crafted at this region’s expense."

SRCSD criticized Steinberg's legislation for backing the peripheral canal and threatening local water rights and land use authority.

"The reality is that this water package – the proposed peripheral canal, the threat to our water rights and supplies, and the loss of local land use authority – will irreparably impact and damage the Sacramento region," SRCSD said. "As it now stands, the Sacramento region not only will end up paying its share of the 'statewide' solution, but will be forced to pick up the tab for the additional impacts to this region that those who benefit from the peripheral canal or other 'fix' are not forced to pay for. There is a reason that not one Sacramento regional entity supports this water package: it does nothing to ensure that we will not be saddled with unmitigated impacts and a disproportionate burden.”

The water package is opposed by a diverse and growing coalition of organizations including the Sierra Club California, Planning and Conservation League, Friends of the River, Butte Environmental Council, Restore the Delta, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN), California Striped Bass Association, Clean Water Action, the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, Winnemem Wintu Tribe, Center for Biological Diversity, Northern California River Watch, the Public Trust Alliance and the Environmental Protection Information Center. The package is also opposed by major labor unions including the California Teachers Association and SEIU.

Unfortunately, corporate environmental organizations including the Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Defense and Nature Conservancy are supporting Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Darrell Steinberg's plans to build a peripheral canal, an enormously expensive government boondoggle that would likely result in the extinction of collapsing Central Valley salmon and Delta fish populations.

It is clear that Darrell Steinberg cares nothing about the needs of his constituents. He is a corporate Democrat who is now serving as the shameless "water boy" for the Metropolitan Water District, Westlands Water District and other corporate interests.

For more information and action alerts, go to http://www.restorethedelta.org.