California’s Congressional Water Ballot for 2012

Nov. 5, 2012

By Wayne Lusvardi

Tomorrow California voters will not be voting on the proposed California Water Bond, which has been postponed until 2014.  But voters will be voting on a number of local water projects such as the proposed Hetch Hetchy dam removal, which is Proposition F in San Francisco.

More importantly, California voters will be deciding on three crucial congressional races that will have statewide influence on water policy and projects. The three incumbent members of Congress shown below are California’s “movers and shakers” in federal water policy for California.  Half of California’s water system — called the Central Valley Project — is owned and operated by the federal government.

Below is a summary of the positions of each of the candidates on water issues.  No endorsement of candidates is expressed or implied.

U.S. Senator at Large — California

Elizabeth Emken — Republican 

(Challenger) Danville, California


Dianne Feinstein — Democrat San Francisco, California (incumbent)Chairwoman — Senate Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development
Unofficial Positions on Water Issues:

* Supports four new water storage projects for California: Sites Reservoir, Los Vaqueros Reservoir expansion, Temperance Flat Reservoir, expansion of Shasta Reservoir;

* Supports modernization of federal Endangered Species Act to “better recover species, minimize conflict, reduce costs, and remedy other unintended consequences of the Act”;

* Favors recycling water instead of allowing flows of “several million acre feet of used water to the ocean”;

* Favors exploration of “conjunctive use” water storage programs;

* Favors desalination water projects;

* Supports “complete cost-benefit” analysis of all water projects;

* See full water policy statement here.



Unofficial Positions on Water Issues:

* Has no official positions on water issues on her website;* Advocates cleaning up perchlorate in water supply;

Restoring Lake Tahoe;

* Authored San Joaquin River Restoration Act (2009) costing about $1.1 billion for 11,000 temporary construction jobs, 475 future tourist-related jobs, and a loss of 3,000 permanent farm jobs by taking water from farmers.  Only about $88 million of project funds authorized by Congress for studies. Project stalled by lack of federal funding for remainder of project. Farmers to pay $7.6 million per year for river restoration;

* Wrote letter requesting federal funding for 7 water projects and approval of 2 new water policies;

* Called for federal review of Cadiz groundwater harvesting project in Mojave Desert.

Congressional District 4  – Northeastern California

Tom McClintock – Republican (incumbent) Elk Grove, California Chairman – House Subcommittee on Water and Power Jack Uppal – Democrat 

(challenger) Lincoln, California

Unofficial Positions on Water Issues:

* Opposed to Klamath River dam removals;

* Supports Auburn Dam and Lake Project based in “beneficiary pays” principle;

* Supports repeal of the San Joaquin River Restoration Act (Feinstein) with a “workable and vastly less expensive alternative” such as H.R. 1837 (Nunes) pending in U.S. Senate;

* Supports expansion of Federal hydropower projects;

* Opposes “man-made droughts” in California’s Central Valley farms from unfounded environmental lawsuits to protect fish;

* Opposes expansion of Federal water regulation by “environmental giveaways.”

No online positions on water issues

Congressional District 21 – Central California

Devin Nunes – Republican (incumbent) Tulare, CaliforniaAuthor: H.R. 1837 – San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act (pending in U.S. Senate). Otto Lee – Democrat (challenger) Clovis, California
Unofficial Positions on Water Issues:

* Authored H.R. 1837 – San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act (2012) to repeal H.R. 146 the San Joaquin River Restoration Act (Feinstein) currently being held on floor of U.S. Senate;

* Issued report titled “Distorted Water” to correct distortions about H.R. 1837;

* Called for end to California’s “man-made drought” from unfounded environmental lawsuits to protect fish;

* Opposed letting Delta water go to waste.


Unofficial Positions on Water Issues:

* Supports bi-partisan solutions to Central Valley farm water crisis;

* Supports “economically feasible and environmentally responsible” fishery plan;

* If elected seeks assignment to House Agricultural Committees to pursue farm subsidies

* See full position statement here.


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