SYRCL blasts Aanestad’s plan |

SYRCL blasts Aanestad’s plan

The leader of Nevada County’s South Yuba River Citizens League has blasted state Sen. Sam Aanestad and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s plan to shore up California’s water storage and levee system.

Jason Rainey said the two-pronged bond plan being led through the legislature by Aanestad (R-Grass Valley) includes too much concrete and not enough environmental protection.

“SYRCL calls on the legislature and the governor to include funding for levee setbacks and flood plain restoration in any public flood protection bond,” Rainey said. “We call for the restoration of the ecological function of our highly altered river systems.”

Tuesday Aanestad dismissed Rainey’s comments for SYRCL:

“These are the same people that believe the planting of elderberry bushes along the river will prevent flooding. It won’t and that’s a major source of disagreement.

“Flood plain restoration will not protect our cities. It will simply lead to more flooding.”

Schwarzenegger selected Aanestad to walk point on the plan that calls for $3 billion in bonds this year to finance levee repairs and flood control systems. A $6 billion bond being planned for 2010 would continue those improvements, desalination of ocean water projects and recycling of irrigation water to meet growing state water needs. A good portion of the levees in Northern California are in Aanestad’s district.

If the governor’s first bond passes the legislature and is approved by voters on the June ballot, water users would pay a yearly fee to pay it back. A single family would pay $3, an apartment complex owner $10, commercial water users $5 and agricultural users $3 to $10 annually, depending on usage.

Aanestad’s communications chief Bill Byrd said last month no projects are set yet in the plan, but possibilities exist for reservoirs near Maxwell in the Sacramento Valley and Temperance Flat in the San Joaquin River watershed for additional water storage.

At that time Aanestad also said he did not want to tie the bond money up in environmental studies.

“It’s time to start spending taxpayer dollars on bulldozers and concrete that will result in the completion of real projects that will benefit California,” he said. Aanestad said then and again Tuesday the Northern California floods in January and Hurricane Katrina show how badly the levee systems need repair here and in Louisiana.

Rainey begged to differ.

“Senator Aanestad cites Hurricane Katrina to hype his ‘bulldozers and concrete’ proposal, but we need to remember that in addition to the Bush Administration’s failure to fully fund requested levee improvements in the Gulf region, it was a legacy of dams and diversions on the Mississippi River that has robbed Southern Louisiana of it protective barrier wetlands.”

Rainey said SYRCL is currently involved in a levee setback program at the confluence of the Feather and Bear rivers in the south portions of Yuba and Sutter counties. The setbacks will be funded by water bonds approved in 2000.

“The Three Rivers Levee Improvement Authority has agreed with the landowner’s to purchase land and move levees back to let the flood plain expand,” Rainey said. The new levees would allow flood water to spread out on land above cities and double as habitat for various species.

SYRCL has been working with Yuba County officials for the past few years on projects to protect the salmon and steelhead fishery on the Yuba River. SYRCL helped block a dam proposal on the South Yuba in the 1980s and has explored the possibility of dropping Englebright Dam to help the fish go further upriver.

The three arms of the Yuba flow into the Feather River watershed, which meets the Bear River between Yuba City-Marysville and Sacramento.


To contact senior staff writer Dave Moller, e-mail davem@the or call 477-4237.

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