Brimming Reservoirs

I was pleased to read Robert A. Jones’ column on water policy (“Maybe Not Such a Deal After All,” July 31). I agree with his observation that California’s water policy is changing to meet the state’s changing needs.

The purpose of this letter is to correct the mistaken suggestion in Jones’ piece that I am actively promoting transfers of water from California farms to California cities. To be clear, I do support the use of market processes to allocate scarce resource such as water, and I do think that agriculture-to-urban water transfers can and will make sense in particular cases. However, my involvement in the issue has been limited to the narrow legal question of who should have the final say over transfers involving water from the Bureau of Reclamation’s Central Valley Project (CVP). The CVP controls one-fifth of California’s entire water supply and the Bureau of Reclamation asserts that none of the CVP’s water can be used outside the Central Valley, regardless of California’s plans or priorities for that water.

I have sponsored legislation with Sen. Alan Cranston, S. 484--the Central Valley Project Improvement Act--which addresses water transfers in a very simple way: It eliminates any federal restrictions on transfers of CVP water within California. My view is that, in virtually every case, it is appropriately a state-level decision as to how, where and under what conditions water may be transferred within a state. California should have the choice to use Central Valley Project water as it sees fit--without federal interference.



Senate Subcommittee on Water and Power