4)Accelerates $660 million from the Governor's January budget proposal of Proposition 1E of 2006, bond monies for flood protection in urban and rural areas to make the state's infrastructure more resilient to climate change and flood events. -- Gabrielle Meindl, California State Assembly Budget Committee consultant, March 24, 22015.
We picked out the above consultant commentary on AB 91, the billion-dollar drought bill, for two reasons. First, it treats by far the largest component of the bill, $660 million from a 2006 bond proposition. Second, we picked it because the word "accelerates" leaves a lot to be desired, description-wise, regarding these hundred millions and all the other millions "accelerated" throughout the bills. Is there some sort of political propellant involved? Is it a danger to the ozone layer? What has the bond been doing since 2007, smoking dope with consultants? This brings us to the next topic of interest in the bill.
2)Allow DFW to assess civil penalties, including administrative penalties, for obstructing fish passage with separate provisions for obstructions associated with marijuana cultivation. Require DFW adopt emergency regulations to implement the penalty provisions and amend the Timber and Forest Restoration Fund to allow for the receipt of penalty monies.-- Gabrielle Meindl, California State Assembly Budget Committee consultant, March 24, 22015.
Something like this is predictable, of course, given the California Legislature's deep and abiding interest in mind-altering substances from its earliest days, swigging down the whisky between water fights. We even dredged up a newspaper article from 2009 about "water rustlers" in Potter Valley, on the Mendocino/Lake County line. The provision in the 2015 amendment to the 2014 California Budget Act could have come straight out of the article, in itself 25 years late, which proves that things which have long been taken for granted socially in the state Legislature take awhile to penetrate the official consciousness.For the rest of these important drought bills, we thought that maybe if we read the bills themselves and these commentaries we might gain a deeper understanding than we did by reading newspaper accounts of them. Actually, we didn't, but we thought we'd give you the opportunity to see what you can make out of them. The bills themselves are pretty heavy sledding, but the commentaries and summaries are available here:
For masochists and water lawyers, the full text of the bills are here:
Santa Rosa Press Democrat
Water rustling on the rise in Mendocino County
Water rustling is becoming a problem in Potter Valley, where irrigation canals crisscross farmland, sustaining crops and livestock as they carry water from the Eel River to the Russian River.
"Water trucks are basically stealing water from the canals," said Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman.
It's not yet known who is taking the water or where it is going but law officials suspect at least some went to illegal pot gardens that proliferate throughout the county.
"We have our suspicions," Allman said.
Throughout the summer, water trucks can be found rumbling down Mendocino County's dirt back roads, carrying water to areas where there are known marijuana gardens and no other agriculture to speak of.
Those alternative gardeners likely pay someone for the water, but the water can't be bought.
Taking Potter Valley Irrigation District water outside of the valley is illegal, whether or not it's purchased, noted district Supervisor Steve Elliott.
State regulations prohibit water from being used outside of the Potter Valley Irrigation District's boundaries, a rule that applies to all water districts unless they're granted special permits.
And most people in the water purveying business should know that, Elliott said.
Yet there have been a dozen recent reports of water trucks siphoning Potter Valley's canals, then heading out of the valley northeast of Ukiah.
"I'm talking about 2,000 gallon and 3,000 gallon water trucks with no truck identification," Elliott said.
There's no way to know how much water has been trucked out of the valley, he said. Elliott suspects much of it is happening under cover of darkness.
It's not harming the district's ability to provide for its customers' irrigation needs, but it could be a problem for others, especially during the current drought.
"It's an infringement on downstream water rights," Elliott said.
The canals are fed by a water diversion on the Eel River, high above the valley. They, in turn, feed the east fork of the Russian River.
There's little doubt water truck owners and the Potter Valley residents who may be selling them water already know it's illegal.
Potter Valley irrigation district members who illegally sell district water can have their irrigation supply cut off, Elliott said.
But water buyers — who usually pay dearly for the water — may not know it's illegal, he said.
Elliott said he's been getting phone calls from people asking to buy Potter Valley water because they know of others who have done so, Elliott said.
The district and law enforcement officials will meet Wednesday afternoon to figure out what to do about the illegal activities.
"I'm trying to bring it to the public's attention. Maybe they'll find a legitimate way to get the water," Elliott said.
Water theft is nothing new but Allman said he seems to be hearing more complaints about it countywide this year.
So have members of the water district that governs most of the Ukiah Valley's water rights.
"Desperate times are causing desperate behavior," said Sean White, director of the Russian River Flood Control and Water Conservation Improvement District.
Most of the Sheriff's Office complaints are from people who suspect their springs and wells are running dry because they're being tapped by neighboring marijuana gardens, Allman said.
Allman said his office won't tolerate marijuana growers who partake in water thievery.
"Illegal water diversion this year is being taken very seriously," he said.
Something a bit more up-to-date from our Arab brothers:
California love: Water thieves just can’t get enough
In northern areas of the state, counties report illegal diversions from tanks, wells and streams
‘A lot of the wells have gone dry, and the marijuana growers have run out of water and have been illegally taking the water out of the creeks.’
‘For many water rights violations, it might be a $1,000 a day penalty or even as low as $500. But for water quality, fines are $5,000 to $10,000