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A reply from Congressman McNerney: He believes Delta people should have a seat at water table


Late last year I sent a letter to Congressman McNerney expressing my concerns regarding the recent California legislation regarding the delta and the state's issues with water. Here is his reply. Ed.


January 8, 2010 -- Thank you for contacting me to express your support for the National Marine Fisheries Service Biological Opinion on the Operations of the Central Valley and the State Water Projects.  I appreciate learning your views, and I welcome your input. 


The BiOP issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service seeks to address the declining fish stocks in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and how best to preserve these species.  This BiOP is intended to preserve species in the Delta, but some experts have raised concerns that implementing the BiOP could have negative consequences for water users in San Joaquin County.  Federal agencies are currently conducting additional studies to supplement the BiOP. The Delta has experienced difficult ecological challenges in recent years, and declining fish stocks are a serious concern.


The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is the nexus of California's water distribution system, providing drinking water for tens of millions of people and supporting agricultural industries throughout the state.  Delta waterways flow through five counties that are home to four million people whose health, well-being, and livelihoods are dependent up on a reliable supply of clean water.  I am honored to represent significant portions of Contra Costa County and San Joaquin County - two of the five "Delta Counties," - and I am fighting tirelessly for policies that protect water quality and water availability for the families, farmers, and businesses in our communities.


Too often, key decisions affecting the Delta are made without sufficient input from Delta residents, and our communities must have a seat at the table as negotiations affecting our well-being occur. That is why I wrote a letter to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar insisting that he actively solicit input from my constituents in Contra Costa County and San Joaquin County as his Department makes decisions about water supply in California.  I also wrote a similar letter to Governor Schwarzenegger pledging to fight federal support for projects that are harmful to San Joaquin Delta communities.  These letters can be found on my website at www.mcnerney.house.gov.  I will not accept proposals that threaten to further erode water resources for my constituents.


In addition to advocating for Delta residents at the federal level, I am working hard to bring home funding for key water projects in our area.  Since 2007, I have secured several million dollars for projects that are improving levees, recharging the groundwater basin, and improving existing water infrastructure.  For example, I helped secure $835,000 in federal stimulus funding for the Farmington Groundwater Recharge Project, and I brought back almost $5 million in 2010 funding for levee stability projects in Contra Costa and San Joaquin counties.  These initiatives are helping our communities maximize the water resources available to us.


I am also advancing common-sense policies that will improve water availability in every part of California.  I was proud to introduce H.R. 700, the Healthy Communities Water Supply Act, which authorizes federal funding for innovative water projects.  I also championed key legislation to permanently codify the WaterSense program, which is similar to Energy Star for power and appliances.  WaterSense labels water-efficient products so that consumers can make well-informed purchases.  Both of these initiatives have passed the House of Representatives, and I am hopeful that they will be signed into law.


I believe that we can work together to protect water quality and water availability for San Joaquin Delta communities and to give residents of the Delta a leading voice in the decision that affect them.  As I continue working on water policy, I will keep your comments in mind.


Thank you again for expressing your views. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of additional assistance.  If you would like to learn about other issues I am working on in Congress or would like to sign up for my e-newsletter, I encourage you to visit my website at www.mcnerney.house.gov




Jerry McNerney
Member of Congress