BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                              1










                    SENATE COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES AND WATER
                                           

                             Senator Sheila Kuehl, Chair
                              2005-2006 Regular Session

               BILL NO:       AB 984
               AUTHOR:   Laird
               AMENDED:       January 4, 2006
               FISCAL:        Yes            HEARING DATE:June 13, 2006
               URGENCY:       No        CONSULTANT:Marie Liu
               SUBJECT:       Tamarisk plant control.

               Summary:       Assembly Bill 984 would authorize the  
               Department of Water Resources (DWR), in collaboration with  
               the federal government and other specified entities, to  
               prepare a plan to control or eradicate tamarisk in the  
               Colorado River watershed and to reestablish native  
               vegetation.

               Existing Law: Currently, the DWR, as one of its  
               responsibilities, is required to support local projects  
               that improve the efficiency of the use of surface and  
               groundwater resources and to restore and enhance  
               environmental resources values.

               The multi-agency Colorado River Board was established in  
               Division 6, Part 5 of the Water Code (commencing with  
               Section 12500) to protect the state's rights and interests  
               in the resources of the Colorado River. The board consists  
               of eight board members, including the director of DWR. 
               
               Proposed Law:  AB 984 makes legislative findings on the  
               problems related to tamarisk growth in the Colorado River  
               watershed. The bill would authorize the Department of Water  
               Resources (DWR) to collaborate with the federal government  
               and the other Colorado Basin states to prepare a plan to  
               control or eradicate tamarisk in the Colorado River  
               watershed within California. To develop the plan, DWR must  
               collaborate with the Department of Food and Agriculture,  











               the Department of Fish and Game, and the Colorado River  
               Board of California. The plan must include the  
               reestablishment of native vegetation and must identify  
               potential funding sources for implementation.

               DWR is not required to implement the plan until funds for  
               this purpose are appropriated. When the plan is  
               implemented, DWR is also required to collaborate with  
               affected California water agencies and other appropriate  
               entities.

               Arguments in Support:  The author points to an estimated  
               210,000-460,000 acre-feet of water that is lost every year  
               due to the transpiration of tamarisk on the Colorado River.  
               Additionally, the author states: "This fast growing  
               invasive plant easily displaces native species and creates  
               a monoculture where almost everything is tamarisk?Tamarisk  
               has almost no habitat value."

               In their support letter of support, the Trust for Public  
               Land states, "Unfortunately, the presence of tamarisk is  
               pervasive through the Colorado River watershed. Its  
               existence has had negative consequences for the river, most  
               notably the outstripping of native vegetation, and  
               overconsumption of the already precious and dwindling water  
               supplies of the river."

               Arguments in Opposition: None received.
               
               Comments: Impacts of tamarisk:  Tamarisk is an aggressively  
               invasive woody plant that has established itself over  
               millions of acres of riparian areas in the western United  
               States, including along the Colorado River. In addition to  
               the undesirable impacts of tamarisk discussed by the  
               author, the plant also increases the salinity of  
               surrounding soil and may make the area more prone to catch  
               fire. Successful eradiation and revegetation efforts have  
               been conducted in parts of the Coachella Valley and the  
               Grand Canyon.

                Previous legislation  : This bill is very similar to AB 1466,  
               which passed the committee last year. The Governor agreed  
               with the intent of AB 1466, but ultimately vetoed the bill,  











               citing his belief that the legislation should, "provide  
               authority and direction for the appropriate state entities  
               to work with the other Colorado Lower Basin States, the  
               federal government, and local water districts receiving  
               water out of the Colorado Water." AB 984 provides this  
               authority and direction.
               
               SUPPORT: 
               Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
               Municipal Water District of Orange County
               San Diego County Water Authority
               Sierra Club California
               Southern California Water Committee, Inc.
               The Trust for Public Land
               
               OPPOSITION: 
               None received