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State Assembly holds hearing on statewide water issues, public addresses water bond
NORTH COAST- State Assemblymembers hosted a hearing to discuss North Coast water issues, California’s drought and the Assembly’s water bond proposal.
"We are very different then the rest of the state and our water needs have more to do with the natural resources then they do with what comes out of the tap," said Assembly member Wesley Chesbro.
The biggest issue that ties into the statewide water system is water diversion. Over half of the water normally flowing in the Trinity River is diverted from the dams and flows to the Sacramento River and then to farms and cities in the southern part of the state,
"We need to make sure that what is left of that flow is protected for the fish. It's very critical to the fishery in the Trinity and its also critical to the fishery in the lower Klamath which the Trinity feeds," he said.
Friday’s meeting was one of eight held statewide to address the legislature's new water bond proposal called the Clean and Safe Drinking Water Act of 2014.
In 2009 an $11.1 billion bond proposal passed but was postponed twice because of its flaws and this year that same proposal is back on the ballot, however, this time lawmakers are trying to be more transparent by asking local residents along the North Coast about what they think should be revised and included in the new bond.
Salmonid Restoration Federation member Dana Stolzman said, "I would like to see protection for the North Coast water resources and an equal balance between the hydrologic regions in the state, the north coast being a place where there is currently a lot of water heading south and in a time of drought we especially need that water for fisheries and human use."
It is predicted our state's population will be almost 50 million by 2020 and officials say if no action is taken to increase water supply, then we will be short nearly 2 trillion gallons of water per year. The newly $6.5 billion bond proposal includes a $1.5 billion chunk of that to protect rivers and watersheds, but many North Coast tribes are concerned about which watersheds will actually be protected,
Hoopa Valley Tribe Chairwoman, Danielle Vigil-Masten said, "It says to restore the San Joaquin and the Sacramento rivers, it does not say anything about where that water is coming from. That water has to come from somewhere so its either going to come from one of our rivers up here in the north to be able to meet those needs to restore those watersheds, so we are going to left without."
Others agreed with Vigil-Masten noting the North Coast is primarily the main exporter of water to other areas around the state.
Three more regional hearings will take place around the state. By March the committee hopes to present the newly modified bond to the Governor.