I was disappointed to read The Bee's Aug. 28 editorial criticizing the work of the state Senate Select Committee on Delta Stewardship and Sustainability.
Had The Bee discussed this committee's role with me or any elected official or delta advocate you would have learned that the Delta Select Committee is the Legislature's only voice focused solely on the delta. Now, more than ever, it is essential for that voice to be heard as the state is well on its way to implementing a multibillion-dollar plan (the Bay Delta Conservation Plan), the largest and most expensive state-sponsored water project in half a century.
The Bee suggests delta issues should not be assigned to a "backwater" committee. I couldn't agree more. But unfortunately, most of the state and most legislators think the delta is just that, a backwater. All the more reason we need a committee focused primarily on informing them and others about the importance of the delta.
I have chaired the Delta Select Committee since its establishment in 2009 by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg who, to his credit, believed the delta needed a voice. In our first two-year session we had a series of informational hearings on delta community impacts, the cost of the delta package and the status of flood protection efforts working closely with the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee.
Our committee's work has resulted in 11 pieces of legislation, including:
Senate Bill 571, to reform California water financing;
SB 834, to reduce reliance on the delta;
SB 200, to fund delta levee protection;
SB 1278, to help local governments meet flood standards; and
SB 1495, to help the Ports of Stockton and West Sacramento comply with the 2009 water package.
Three of these measures await the governor's signature and would assist not only the delta but the entire Central Valley.
The committee also works closely with the many delta interests to make sure they have a seat at the table, not just a place on the menu, as the state and federal agencies collaborate with Southern California and Bay Area water exporters to plan the future of our region.
It's certainly fair for The Bee to ask why the Senate has a Delta Select Committee, but perhaps a better question is: Why doesn't the Assembly? Or better: Why doesn't the governor?
state senator, 5th District