Modesto councilman rallying support to contribute in effort to fight state water plan

The Modesto Bee –

A Modesto councilman called on the city to contribute toward efforts to resist a state water grab that’s become an emotionally charged issue in the region.

Councilman Mani Grewal said at Tuesday’s council meeting the state plan to take large amounts of Tuolumne River water to rejuvenate the Sacramento-San Joaquin River delta would create a “regulatory drought” in Stanislaus County.

City leaders didn’t say how much could be spent opposing the state proposal. The matter will be brought back for discussion.

“We cannot afford this plan,” Grewal said. “We cannot afford it for our region and we cannot afford it for our citizens.”

Grewal mentioned potential litigation as one way of fighting the state water grab. The Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts, which are co-owners of Don Pedro Dam, and other water districts would most likely take the lead in an anticipated lawsuit to challenge the proposal.

The State Water Resources Control Board proposal released Friday would set an unimpeded flow of 40 percent from February to June on the Tuolumne, Stanislaus and Merced rivers, which are tributaries of the San Joaquin River course that feeds the south delta. In other words, Don Pedro and other Sierra dams would not retain 40 percent of the rivers’ natural flow but would let it run to the delta.