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UPDATE: Governor defends North State rights
Gov. Jerry Brown promised to protect the North State’s water, but made it equally clear there were critical needs across the state.
Brown’s comments came at the annual Ag Leadership Breakfast in Colusa Wednesday morning.
“I promise we will protect the water on that land, and our water from anyone else in this state,” Brown said.
The land he referred to is 2,700 acres he owns west of Williams – ownership of which dates back to his great-grandfather, August Schuckman, who left Germany in 1848 and settled in California in 1852.
Brown said it will take the same kind of “pioneering courage” that brought his family across the Great Plains west to California to resolve the issues facing the state.
On the top of that list for most of the estimated 350 people at St. Bernadette’s Hall was water and agriculture in general.
And while Brown repeated his pledge to protect North State rights, the governor also noted the needs to protect the Delta and the needs of farmers and other interests to the south.
“There are deep divisions between north and south, between farmers and environmentalist, those living in the Delta and those living further down south. But, I intend to meet with all the groups, conduct a very intensive, prolonged and complete effort of involvement, listening and taking into account what people suggest,” he said to a small group while walking through the Colusa Farm Show at the nearby Colusa County Fairgrounds.
While the Ag Leadership Breakfast is separate from the Farm Show, the two have gone hand-in-hand for more than a decade.
“Water is very precious. We certainly don’t have enough and we’re not going to do anything to jeopardize water rights,” said Brown.
Ashley Indrieri, executive director of the Family Water Alliance, thought the governor’s comments were positive.
“It was encouraging that he mentioned that he supports protecting North State water rights,” Indrieri said. “I don’t think he has ever mentioned being in support of North State water rights before.”
Indrieri expressed hope that protection language about origin rights are part of any policy regarding the building of canals or tunnels to divert water from the Sacramento River to central and southern California.
“I think its critical that he support the building of the Sites Reservoir,” Indrieri added.
Brown did mention the need for additional water storage in the state, but not specifically the long-discussed Sites project in Colusa County.
The project is viewed both as an additional ag surface water source and to a lesser extent, for flood protection from foothill runoff.
Brown also touched on flood protection when he mentioned the need to improve the state’s levee system, which is part of the current Central Valley Flood Protection Plan.
Area officials recently reported the state has approved the $2.1 million grant to develop the plan for the Upper- and Mid-Sacramento project areas.
For the purpose of the plan, the two regions are consolidated.
The primary goal is to make sure communities impacted by the levees have the mandated 100-year protection levels, while also assuring rural areas are protected.
“Its a start,” said Chris Torres, president of the Colusa Farm Bureau. “Its good to hear him talk about water, but I didn’t hear him talk about regulatory relief, which is really what we need.”
Brown did make a passing remark about the need to address nitrates and pesticide use.
“Its good to see him take the time. Agriculture is the only sector that is profitable in this state. So, he should be giving us this attention,” Torres added.