You are hereAction Alert: The 2010 Water Transfer Facilitation Act is bad for Valley farming

Action Alert: The 2010 Water Transfer Facilitation Act is bad for Valley farming

Update: Feinstein's bill has died 111th Congress 
Action Alert
Oppose the federal 2010 Water Transfer Facilitation Act


While Senator Feinstein recently dropped her rider legislation that would repeal the Endangered Species Act protections for Delta fish, a new piece of legislation is moving forward that would be just as damaging to the Delta, our rivers, and their fish species.  The 2010 Water Transfer Facilitation Act (S.1759 Feinstein/Boxer, HR 3750 Costa) is the newest legislative effort to deliver more water from the South Delta.  South of Delta water deliveries are already unsustainable and we are seeing the effects of nearly a decade of out-of-control water grabs by South of Delta users without proper water supply oversight.


While our representatives are using this bill to appease certain Westside farmers and saying that this legislation is benign or harmless, the bill actually amounts to deregulation of CVP water supplies. This will inevitably lead to more out-of-valley, long-term water transfers further damaging our Westside farming communities and Valley farm productivity.  By allowing land owners and land speculators to sell water rights to new urban growth interests in Los Angeles and the Mojave desert, the resulting demand for valley water is hardened leaving Valley farmers with two choices: fallow or drill for groundwater.


Revive the San Joaquin continues to fight for a healthier river and river Delta.  Without a sustainable Delta, our salmon restoration project will fall flat as West Coast salmon species go extinct.  We continue to partner with organizations working to improve Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta habitats and water quality.  Please help us by visiting our website for talking points and by calling these bill supporters to express your opposition to the bill and you’re your concerns over water supply deregulation.   

Congressman Jim Costa’s office.  Contact Jaclyn Murray at (202) 225-3341

 Senator Barbara Boxer’s Office. Contact Lynn Abramson (202) 224-3553


Revive the San Joaquin is concerned about the bills because, while they are being promoted as a fix for Westside water supplies, they are unneccessary and create huge loopholes for water profiteers like Stuart Resnick.  Resnick owns large tracts of farmland in Madera and Kern Counties and also controls a majority share of the Kern Water Bank.  As Resnick is a generous campaign contributor to Senator Feinstein, it is unlikely she will back down from her support of this bill.  Senator Boxer and Congressman Costa have both supported the act calling it benign but have not given specifics on how it may help.  Revive has drafted several technical documents that show existing environmental documents ALREADY facilitate beneficial water transfers, and we will not support a bill unless it provides proctections for keeping Valley water supplies in the Valley where they are needed most.

Why are long-term transfers bad for the Valley?

1. The State has already approved nearly 200,000 acre-feet of water to be exported out of the Valley in farm-to-city long-term transfers. These municipal water contracts not only reserve Valley farm water supplies for new Southern California growth, but in droughts the health and safety codes fix deliveries at 60% creating un-realisitic demands on the Delta and shorting additional Valley ag water supplies.

2. The bill would enable Resnick and others to buy Eastside San Joaquin Valley water, exchange it, and sell it to Southern California for development.

3. The bill's provisions for a single programmatic EA would end individual review of the transfers.    Local communities would have no notice and no chance to comment on local impacts such as land fallowing, groundwater depletion, and job loss.

4. The bill will impact major rivers throughout the Valley that are under USBR jurisdiction by allowing long-term transfers out of the basin without individual notice or review.  These transfers would also impact storage behind USBR dams that could impact water supplies needed for salmon fishery protections. 

The following is a slide from a recent powerpoint given by Tim Quinn of MWD.

1. Paper Water and the Housing Boom

A.   2000-2007:   The State Water Project’s Massive Increase in Delta Exports

Staring in 2000, cities receiving State Water Project water started requesting their full Table A allocations, regardless of the safe yield of the Project.    As a result, many of the 1.1 million units of housing built over the last decade were built on wet year water supplies.

Metropolitan Water District, the largest State Water Project contractor, has a Table A allocation of 1,911,500 af.     From 1990-1999, most of their deliveries were in the project’s safe yield of 955750 acre feet.    MWD received an average of  697,000 acre feet
in the 1990s.


By 2000, MWD was requesting their full Table A Allocation of 1,911,500 af.   Between 2000 and 2008, MWD received an average of 1,414,000 af..    This was over 200% of their average allocation in the 1990s.   All urban contractors for the SWP had a similar explosion in water exports from the Delta, which coincided with the housing boom.



 The following organizations drafted letters in opposition to the bills:

  The Central Delta Water Agency

Revive the San Joaquin

Sierra Club

Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman Association

Friends of the River

Restore the Delta

Friends of the Trinity River


B.   2008-2009:   A Huge Water Deficit Develops

Starting in 2008, drought and the biological opinion restricting Delta pumping brought Delta exports more in line with past decades. 

In 2009, MWD got 40% of their full Table A Allocation, or 764,600 af.    While this was 110% of their average deliveries in the 1990s,  the eight Southern California counties in MWD had built a lot of housing on the increased deliveries from 2000-2007.    MWD was at 54% of their
2000-2008 average allocation, a loss of almost 650,000 acre feet.

In a 2009, MWD calculated that they had a deficit of 28% of their Table A allocation, or 533,000 acre feet.    Including all the other urban contractors, the State Water Project was approximately 867,000 acre feet short.

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