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Friday, April 12, 2019

Assemblyman Gray criticizes water board, says Delta-Bay Plan hurts struggling communities

About 80,000 people in Merced and Stanislaus counties can't drink water from their tap without risking their health, according to clean water advocates who spoke on Friday, May 11, 2018. BY THADDEUS MILLER

After the state Water Resources Control Board said its Delta-Bay Plan would not have “significant” effect on the drinking water of disadvantaged communities Assemblymember Adam C. Gray, D-Merced, blasted the board members for what he said was their lack of concern for impoverished and minority communities.

Gray recently introduced Assembly Bill 637, which requires the board to identify disadvantaged communities and mitigate impacts to the drinking water supplies serving those communities. The bill also requires the board to hold public hearings in or near those communities.

“It should be the rule – not the exception – that impacted communities are able to make their voices heard,” Gray said on Wednesday.

The water board did not immediately return requests for comment.

There are 17 communities in the 21st Assembly district where wells have recently tested positive for harmful toxins. About 80,000 people in Merced and Stanislaus counties can’t drink water from their tap without risking their health, according to clean water advocates.

They draw those numbers from records provided by the State Water Resources Control Board.

The Delta-Bay Plan requires water entities including the Modesto, Turlock, Oakdale and Merced irrigation districts to sacrifice 40 percent unimpaired river flows, allowing it to go to the San Francisco Bay Area from February through June. That leaves less water for agriculture and city water customers in the Central San Joaquin Valley.

Sending that water would have an adverse effect in areas that already struggle with water quality, Gray said. He argued the board should follow the same rules as the federal government.

In 1994, President Bill Clinton issued an executive order prohibiting federal agencies from discriminating against and ignoring impacts to low income and minority communities.

“Any rational person would agree that advancing a plan which devastates impoverished neighborhoods, degrades drinking water, and openly ignores impacts to some of the most vulnerable communities in the state should be against the law – but the Water Board is not rational,” Gray said.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Assemblymember Gray Tours Flood Operations Center

 

ASSEMBLYMEMBER ADAM C. GRAY
21ST ASSEMBLY DISTRICT
For Immediate Release: April 12, 2019
Contact: Adam Capper
Phone: (916) 319-2021

 

(Sacramento) – Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced), Chair of the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee, met with meteorologists and flood management officials with the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the National Weather Service (NWS) at the DWR Flood Operations Center to receive an update on flood preparedness, interagency cooperation, and the impact of climate change on water storage.

The Department of Water Resources recently announced that the Sierra snowpack is 162 percent of average and statewide snow water equivalent has tripled since the beginning of February.  Snow water equivalent is one of the factors used by water managers to estimate spring runoff.  California typically receives close to 200 million acre-feet of water per year from rain and snow and statewide, and the Sierra snowpack provides 30 percent of California’s water needs.

“Fortunately, this has been a rebound year for California’s water supply,” said Gray. “But the abundance of water also carries a certain amount of risk. Today was an opportunity to make sure our flood management officials at the state and federal level are working together and prepared to respond in case of an emergency.”

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

(Sacramento) – Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) ripped the State Water Resources Control Board yesterday for arguing that the harm caused by the Bay-Delta Plan to the drinking water of disadvantaged communities is not “significant”. Gray’s comments came as his legislation, Assembly Bill 637, cleared the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee with bipartisan support.

 

In response to criticism that the Bay-Delta Plan ignores impacts to disadvantaged communities, the State Water Board issued a master response arguing that because the board is not a federal agency it does not have to consider impacts to these communities significant.

 

“The State Water Board should play by the same rules that the federal government has followed since 1994 when President Clinton issued an executive order prohibiting federal agencies from discriminating against and ignoring impacts to low income and minority communities,” said Gray. “Any rational person would agree that advancing a plan which devastates impoverished neighborhoods, degrades drinking water, and openly ignores impacts to some of the most vulnerable communities in the state should be against the law – but the Water Board is not rational.”

 

AB 637 requires the State Water Board to identify disadvantaged communities and mitigate impacts to the drinking water supplies serving those communities. The bill also requires the Board to hold public hearings in or near impacted communities.

 

“It took demands from nearly the entire delegation of Northern San Joaquin Valley lawmakers before the State Water Board agreed to hold public hearings on the Bay-Delta Plan in the impacted communities of Merced, Stanislaus, and San Joaquin counties,” continued Gray. “It should be the rule – not the exception – that impacted communities are able to make their voices heard.”

 

Thursday, April 4, 2019

When the the State Water Resources Control Board voted to adopt the Bay-Delta Plan, it ignored the direction of former Gov. Jerry Brown and current Gov. Gavin Newsom to pursue voluntary agreements with our irrigation districts. Many saw this as an act of defiance by former chair Felicia Marcus, the executive director, and many of the activist staff.

While Newsom has made swift progress towards rebuilding trust with water users, in part by removing the former chair from the board for her actions, it takes time for reforms at the top to trickle down to the hundreds of staff who actively urged the board’s action.

Since then, Eileen Sobeck, the executive director of the board, submitted a proposal to the United States EPA requesting “review and approval” of the revised salinity objectives included in the Bay-Delta Plan.

While the Bay-Delta Plan exceeds 3,500 pages, the board’s entire submittal for federal approval was nothing more than a couple paragraphs and a chart. The letter made absolutely zero mention of the 40% unimpaired flows approved by the board last December.

Ten years of hearings, a myriad of reports and meetings, millions of dollars in staff and consultant costs, and thousands of public comments should not be subjected to review according to the board’s letter.

Adoption of the Bay-Delta Plan by the EPA based on a single letter would be a profound act of irresponsible government. That the board’s executive director would ask the federal government to take such action is the height of bureaucratic arrogance.

Even more troubling however, is the board’s failure to acknowledge the voluntary agreements being negotiated by our irrigation districts and water users. Many of these negotiations have reached agreements already, and the others are headed in that direction.

By sending an approval request without full and comprehensive information, the water board staff are undermining the good-faith relationship Newsom has established with our region. The federal government should reject this sorry excuse for a proposal.

Democrat Adam Gray represents Assembly District 21, which encompasses Merced County and portions of Stanislaus County.

Monday, April 1, 2019

ASSEMBLYMEMBER ADAM C. GRAY
21ST ASSEMBLY DISTRICT
For Immediate Release: April 1, 2019
Contact: Lisa Mantarro
Phone: (209) 726-5465

GRAY ANNOUNCES SATELLITE DISTRICT OFFICE HOURS FOR APRIL

MERCED — Assemblymember Adam Gray announced his Satellite District Office Hours for the month of April 2019. The 21st Assembly District encompasses 8 communities throughout Merced and Stanislaus Counties. “I am committed to making myself available to every person, in every corner of my district. While my offices in Merced and Modesto are open full-time, I have set up ‘Satellite District Office’ hours where my staff will be available at satellite locations in order to bring constituent services closer to the people,” Gray said.

Satellite District Office Hours are held each month throughout the 21st Assembly district and are hosted by legislative staff.  Staff members are available to assist constituents with casework matters relating to any level of government, but specializing in issues with State agencies- including the Department of Motor Vehicles, Employment Development Department, Franchise Tax Board, and others. Office Hours are also an opportunity for constituents to propose ideas for legislation and to express their opinion on matters before the State Assembly.

Additional information is available through Assembly Member Gray’s Website asmdc.org/cl and the schedule for April is provided below. Regular office hours are open to the public and no appointment is necessary. For more information, please contact Asm. Gray’s Merced District Office at (209) 726-5465.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

ASSEMBLYMEMBER ADAM C. GRAY
21ST ASSEMBLY DISTRICT
For Immediate Release: March 6, 2019
Contact: Adam Capper
Phone: (916) 319-2021

Governmental Organization Committees Convene Joint Hearing on Emerging Wildlife Monitoring Technology

Tuesday, March 5, 2019


Left to right: Assemblymember Marie Waldron, Mireya Aguilar, Assemblymember Adam Gray, Assemblymember Monique Limon, Speaker Anthony Rendon

MIREYA AGUILAR NAMED 21ST ASSEMBLY DISTRICT ‘WOMAN OF THE YEAR’

 

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D – Merced) has named Ms. Mireya Aguilar of Winton as the Woman of the Year from the 21st Assembly District. She was honored today during a ceremony at the State Capitol. Assemblymember Gray chose Aguilar for her exceptional track record of volunteerism and community service. In addition to her profession in migrant education with the Merced County Office of Education, Ms. Aguilar holds classes to assist applicants with the citizenship process and with English proficiency. She is also very involved in supporting cultural programs such as the Ballet Folklorico and this year serves as the president of the Nuevo Latino Rotary Club of Winton.

“Mireya’s community service through her regular employment is already noteworthy in and of itself,” said Gray. “Like a true leader, she has elected to go above and beyond in her volunteer efforts and commitment to service.” 

Monday, February 25, 2019

As published in: The Merced Sun-Star

Some of my legislative colleagues began to pay more attention to our position when they learned it was about much more than farmers and agriculture. They were especially impressed with the role Merced educators played in our efforts. Our Merced County educators have stepped up big time on the water issue. Retired Merced Superintendent Steve Gomes co-signed the initial letter to the State Water Board. Our current superintendent, Steve Tietjen, appeared at hearings, signed letters and helped organize our Merced districts in support of the Valley’s position on water. Twenty-two Merced school superintendents signed a joint letter asking the state to consider educational impacts. Special thanks to Alan Peterson, Superintendent of Merced High School District, and Planada Superintendent Jose Gonzales for their support and participation at the water rally and during testimony at hearings.