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Placer water agency concerned about impact of Delta plan

More water to flush Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta could mean less for Placer County
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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The Delta Plan is raising serious concerns with the Placer County Water Agency. Board members have asked staff to submit agency concerns over the potential impacts on Placer County’s water supplies from plans to solve downstream water issues involving the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The water agency will be lodging its concerns in comments on a draft environmental impact report for the proposed Delta Plan and has been active on several fronts in bringing attention to perceived problems. Water agency leaders focused much of their concern at a board meeting earlier this month on language in the fifth revision of the plan calling for “a more natural flow regime” in the delta. They fear it could dramatically impact areas upstream of the Delta, including Placer County. The agency is within a year of taking over operations of the massive Middle Fork Project in the Sierra. But there are now concerns that a web of agreements that have accompanied a multi-year relicensing effort with the federal government could unravel. “If more Placer County water is needed to flush the Delta, it could invalidate the Middle Fork Project relicensing agreement recently reached with a broad stakeholder group and seriously affect how local water supplies are stored, used and released,” Director of Strategic Affairs Einar Maisch said. General Manager David Breninger said the Delta Plan has serious cost implications as well as being a wide-ranging threat to water supplies. “The draft Delta Plan has serious and very negative impacts on water supplies available to Placer County from both the Yuba and Bear River system, as well as the American River system,” Breninger said. Former top state water official Jerry Johns told the board at its Jan. 19 meeting that there is wide concern over a finding by the State Water Resources Control Board that 75 percent of unimpaired inflow to the Delta is necessary to restore the Delta ecosystem. Impacts would go beyond what has been studied to include surface and groundwater supplies that now serve agriculture, power generation, recreation and urban users, Johns said. “Everything is connected,” Johns said. “There would be lots of unintended consequences if the delta inflow plan were to be implemented as currently recommended.” – Gus Thomson