THE PRESS: Assemblymember Jim Frazier's Delta protection bills
Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D – Discovery Bay) presented his Delta protection bills to the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee. Assembly Bill 732, on Delta levee maintenance, passed on a 10-4 vote. Assembly Bill 791, for Delta transparency and ratepayer protection, passed on an 8-6 vote.
“When millions of Californians rely on fresh water, it can’t be emphasized enough how fragile the Delta ecosystem is,” said Frazier. “Just one levee failure could raise the salinity of the Delta, wash out nearby roads or ruin vital agricultural land. We practically saw that exact scenario with Tyler Island and the millions in emergency costs. In future drought years, the WaterFix Project is only going to exacerbate those concerns when there’s bound to be debt financing and greater environmental concerns.”
Current law establishes Delta Levees Subvention Program, with a 75-25 state-local cost share-funding formula, to maintain the Delta levee. The cost-share rate is set to return to 50-50 in 2018. The current program is very popular, as it continues to produce tangible results and provides the necessary level of funding for portions of the levee system that do not have access to federal funds. AB 732 would remove the sunset date and extend the 75-25 rate indefinitely.