While Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Los Angeles) called the signing of several water bills “historic,” several San Francisco leaders and environmentalists object to the water deal and believe that it is more of a 19th Century solution to a current day problem.

“This water package is a bad deal for San Francisco and the Bay-Delta ecosystem,” said Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), who voted against the water bills. “Not only does it ignore San Francisco’s conservation efforts, it threatens our long-standing water rights. While San Francisco should contribute to the solution, a water deal should not be at such a high expense for our city’s residents or jeopardize our state’s environment.”

“This water package lacks an effective mechanism to bring about real environmental change or water conservation, and will likely result in another layer of bureaucracy and more litigation,” said Yee. “This water package unfairly burdens those who can least afford it. It is wrong to finance this water deal almost entirely through general obligation bonds, which will only result in further cuts to our state’s safety net.”

“Many legislators voted for this policy package without even knowing what it said or what changes had been made,” said Jennifer Clary of Clean Water Action. “We appreciate legislators like Senator Yee, who stood up to the pressure to vote blindly on a package that falls so far short of a Delta fix. Some are calling this a victory, but the policy package passed this week is more form than substance. It’s mind-boggling that the Legislature and the Governor would approve a pork-laden $11 billion general obligation bond as we are facing yet another General Fund shortfall.”

“Today’s action looks like more of the same from Governor Schwarzenegger,” said Sierra Club California Senior Advocate Jim Metropulos. “It’s sad in this day and age that we have to continue to discuss whether expensive, cumbersome dams and canals are the right solution for California’s water troubles. We don’t need 19th-century solutions to today’s problems.”

Several water agencies, environmental organizations, and labor unions opposed all or parts of the water deal including the Sierra Club, SEIU, Planning and Conservation League, Restore the Delta, Friends of the River, East Bay Municipal Utility District, Clean Water Action, Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, and the Northern California Water Association.

In addition to Senator Yee, several San Francisco leaders also publicly opposed the water bills including Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, Supervisors David Campos, Eric Mar, John Avalos, Chris Daly, and Ross Mirkarimi, and City College Trustee John Rizzo.

“I am disappointed that this water package does not produce more sustainable outcomes nor provide the reliable and resilient water resources needed to support a healthy California public, environment, and economy,” said Yee.