May 26, 2005 – A national consumer advocacy organization is condemning a proposal to turn over control of the nation's largest state-run water and power utility to an outside contractor-run agency.
The government watchdog group Public Citizen released a report Wednesday calling for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to reject the plan to move oversight of the California State Water Project from the Department of Water Resources to the new State Water Project Contractors Authority. The Authority, an association that includes 27 contractors, would make policy decisions such as how to issue water rights.
Public Citizen says the plan -- which the governor could adopt through an executive order -- would essentially privatize the project, letting the companies run it as a for-profit enterprise at the expense of California utility ratepayers and the environment.
The California State Water Project spans 600 miles, delivers water to 23 million residents, and irrigates more than 700,000 acres of agricultural land, much of it in the fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta ecosystem.