Southern California Mayors Meet to Discuss Water Crisis

Jan. 18, 2008
Fail to sign letter lobbying for canal

Mayors and representatives from 10 Southern California cities met on Jan. 16 for a water summit to discuss a letter lobbying the state to float a bond measure that would aid Northern California's fragile bay delta and keep water flowing south, the North County Times reported.

Although the letter did not get signed, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, who called for the summit at the University of San Diego's Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, said he was not disappointed, the paper reported.

"I think most people will [eventually] sign it," Sanders said. "It's very hard to get mayors to sign something without their staff looking at it first."

The bond measure would mean building a canal through or around the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta, similar to the controversial "peripheral canal" that was voted down in 1982, water officials at the meeting said.

In the face of a water-supply crisis spurred by widespread drought in the West, proponents of the canal say it would separate drinking water supplies in the delta from failing levees vulnerable to earthquakes, and from endangered fish that have prompted courts to reduce pumping to Southern California, according to the newspaper.

Many officials at the meeting suggested that Southern Californians still could do a better job of conserving water, even though water officials said the region was using approximately the same amount of water as it used in 1991 despite population increases, the paper reported.

 In addition to lobbying for "delta conveyance improvements," the letter suggested cities should promote conservation and push for more storage solutions such as new reservoirs and dams.

The summit included presentations about California’s water supplies and problems in the delta by Jeff Kightlinger, general manager of the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District, Southern California's main water supplier; and Curt Schmutte of California’s Department of Water Resources.

 Jim Bond, an Encinitas councilman and the city’s longtime representative on the San Diego County Water Authority, said the gathering was a good start in a dialogue to get cities to push for delta fixes, the newspaper reported.
"Hopefully this is a pebble in the pond," he said, "and more folks will get involved."

While the meeting included mayors from San Diego County cities, it also included officials from Los Angeles, Long Beach and Huntington Beach.

Source: North County Times