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One logical water solution
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As my fellow lawmakers here in Sacramento continue to argue for unfeasible solutions to California's water problems like digging more mammoth canals and creating panels that operate above California's Constitution, one thing is clear: No one is addressing the issue at hand. We need more and cleaner water NOW.

Senators Joe Simitian and Darrell Steinberg want to create a commission that would "oversee" Delta water issues and take the decision out of the hands of water stakeholders including San Joaquin Valley farmers. It would be yet another panel patterned after the great tyrannical traditions of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the California Coastal Commission.

Anti-worker and anti-farmer, these damaging boards have proven their willingness to abuse their powers over and over again. The coastal commission and CARB have widespread authority and are not accountable to anyone. Six years ago an appeals court ruled the Coastal Commission unconstitutional and the panel still exists to this day. Once this type of panel is put in place, it runs amok and is beholden to no one. It simply will not work. Everyone wants to save habitat and have cleaner water, but we've been down this road before. It's time to look for new solutions instead of rolling out the old ideas that have failed again and again.

Another proposal would create a peripheral canal the size of the Panama Canal through the heart of San Joaquin County, with a nightmarish price tag north of $50 billion. Again, it is just another monstrosity that allows the power brokers of the Bay Area and Southern California to siphon water from hard working Central Valley residents and farms.

So what do we do? Is there a solution?

I have a plan that creates the cheapest and quickest way of reopening the Delta pumps to get the water flowing south again. It costs less than $1 billion, a fraction of the price tag of other proposed solutions to this issue, and takes less than two years to implement, addressing a pressing need in short order.

By isolating Old River from the rest of the Delta, my project specifically:

• Restores the natural flow of Old River and keeps most of the Delta smelt out of the water supply that is being pumped south. The smelt remain in the estuary - their natural habitat - and can spawn in the adjoining sloughs fully removed from the water supply corridor. They cannot be sucked into the pumps.

• It allows the San Joaquin River salmon run to be restored, since the salmon will now be able to swim through the Delta, into the estuary, and eventually into the bay and ocean.

• All Sacramento River fish would have a direct pathway to the bay and ocean and remain out of the central Delta with no risk of being sucked into the pumps. It improves water quality by flushing the central and southern Delta with water from the Sacramento River. Cleaner water means a healthier Delta and healthier environment for the Central Valley.

• Eliminates the need for a massive peripheral canal that is wide enough for cruise ships to navigate.

This plan is essentially a through-Delta conveyance, using Middle River as the pathway to funnel water across the Delta south to the pumps.

Bickering over long-term solutions and doing nothing to address the immediate crisis is not an option. We need more clean water flowing as soon as possible. This plan does just that.

Assemblyman Bill Berryhill, R-Ceres, represents the 26th Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes the communities of Ceres, and Turlock.