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Tri-Dam Partners Send Lawmakers Complaint Letter Over Newsom Proposal

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Oakdale, CA – While they say they appreciate Governor Gavin Newsom’s help to settle what has been billed by many as a “massive water grab,” two water districts are crying foul over his solution.

Tri-Dam Partners the Oakdale (OID) and South San Joaquin (SSJID) irrigation districts, which developed New Melones and maintain senior water rights, recently sent a letter outlining their concerns to Mother Lode Congressman Tom McClintock and U.S. Representatives Jerry McNerney and Josh Harder. Among those cc’d were California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, seven other U.S. Representatives, and the heads of CalEPA and NRA.

The letter was intended as both an update and a “squeaky wheel” complaint to the lawmakers that the proposal constitutes unfair treatment to their constituents.

The communication argues that Governor Gavin Newsom’s latest proposed framework for voluntary settlement agreements among the stakeholders is still not cutting it because the proposal fails to include a sustainable operations plan for the Stanislaus River and it ignores the Bureau of Reclamation’s new biological opinion and other local science.

The Water Board back in December of 2018 approved setting in place a contentious plan to require 40 percent unimpaired water flows on the Stanislaus River as a primary approach to improve fish habitat. It resulted in a flurry of multiagency lawsuits still ongoing, including one filed in Tuolumne County by the Tri-Dam Partners.

The two general managers state that the Governor’s proposal actually appears to be even more onerous since it would require nearly the same flow commitments from the Stan along with sizeable financial contributions of $7.5 million from the districts to support habitat development outside the districts’ communities and the purchase of water outside of the river basin for additional Delta outflow.

Knell dryly acknowledges, “It’s just another lap around the track with Sacramento regarding voluntary agreements on the Stanislaus River.”