DWR's 'Water Awareness Month' in May sets stage for water plan hearings

California's traditional May observance of Water Awareness Month this year serves as a prelude to public hearings in June on the newest California Water Plan Update. The newest California Water Plan Update, Bulletin 160-05, was produced with broad public and stakeholder input, including a 65-member advisory committee. It will be up for public discussion at 11 regional hearings starting June 6...

SACRAMENTO, CA, May 9, 2005 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- California's traditional May observance of Water Awareness Month this year serves as a prelude to public hearings in June on the newest California Water Plan Update.

The 2005 Update is an expert, comprehensive water planning document prepared by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) to help Californians gauge supply and demand, and plan intelligently to meet future water needs.

The newest California Water Plan Update, Bulletin 160-05, was produced with broad public and stakeholder input, including a 65-member advisory committee. It will be up for public discussion at 11 regional hearings during June, starting June 6.

(Specific hearing venues and dates are listed at the end of this news release.)

"We invite Californians to study the 2005 Update online during Water Awareness Month and then participate in the hearings and public discussions coming up in June," said Lester Snow, DWR Director. The entire report can be accessed online and comments made at a special DWR Web site: www.waterplan.water.ca.gov.

"This is a vital action plan for California's water future, so we encourage maximum public engagement," said Snow. The final report will be published this fall.

This May marks the 18th annual observance of Water Awareness Month, publicizing the theme, "Use Water Wisely." DWR joins with other water agencies in this observance that originated in response to California's 1987-1992 statewide drought.

This year has special historic significance. It's the 45th anniversary of passage by voters of the 1960 $1.75 billion bond issue authorizing financing and construction of California's State Water Project (SWP). This spring, the SWP passed the 72 million acre-foot milestone in water deliveries since such water movements to areas of need began in the early 1960s.

Operated by DWR, the SWP provides a supplemental water supply for 23 million Californians and irrigation water for about 750,000 acres of farmland, as well as flows to benefit fish, water quality and the environment.

In addition to operating the SWP, the nation's largest State-run water and power project, DWR is the leading water resource management and planning agency in California. It operates flood management and dam safety programs for public protection and performs water planning, and Delta ecosystem and levee projects, as coordinated through the California Bay-Delta Program, in which DWR is an active partner.

Special Events
Two special events celebrating Water Awareness Month will be conducted: One at facilities at the A. D. Edmonston Pumping Plant in Kern County (south of Bakersfield) on May 12; and the other at O'Neill Forebay, near San Luis Reservoir, (west of Los Banos) on May 14.

* May 12 -- Student Visit Day at Edmonston
On Thursday, May 12, some 200 fourth grade students from schools in Arvin, Bakersfield, Frazier Park and Metler will enjoy a special Water Awareness Day at the Edmonston Pumping Plant, south of Bakersfield, just east of Interstate 5.

Located at the base of the Tehachapi Mountains, Edmonston Pumping Plant lifts SWP water nearly 2000 feet up and over the mountain range for use in Southern California.

This special event features water safety and water conservation demonstrations, plus a catch-and-release fishing derby. Staff from DWR's San Joaquin Field Division make possible this student outing to educate youngsters about wise water use.

Lunch, T-shirts and water safety and conservation handouts will be provided. Scheduled to appear for photos and autographs will be two players from the Bakersfield Blaze, a Class A professional baseball team affiliated with the California Baseball League.

The event is scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m. and conclude at 1 p.m. For more information, contact Allen Thompson, event coordinator, at 661-858-5509.

* May 14 -- Kids' Fishing Day at O'Neill Forebay
On Saturday, May 14, the 16th annual Kids' Fishing Day will be held at O'Neill Forebay near San Luis Reservoir. Biggest offstream storage reservoir in the nation, San Luis Reservoir can store more than 2 million acre-feet of water.

This event is limited to children aged 15 and under. While there is no charge for the event, there is a State Parks vehicle admission fee.

Starting at 8 a.m., this event features fishing with prizes for young anglers. Lunch will be served at 11 a.m. Entrance to this event is off State Highway 152, eights miles west of I-5, and about 15 miles west of Los Banos. The event sponsors are DWR, the State Department of Parks and Recreation and local volunteers. It is financed in part by the Four Rivers Natural History Association, along with area merchants and volunteers.

For more information, contact DWR Guide Howard Berman at 209-827-5353 or Jennifer Morgan in the local State Parks office at 209-826-1196.

DWR Visitors Centers
DWR invites motorists to drop by its three Visitor Centers, not only during May but year-round. These facilities are located at: Lake Oroville, about 75 miles north of Sacramento, via State Highway 70 or US 99; San Luis Reservoir, off State Highway 152, just west of Interstate 5 in Merced County; and Pyramid Lake in northern Los Angeles County, just off Interstate 5, south of Gorman.

Each Visitors Center offers excellent lake views and educational exhibits with information about the State Water Project and its role in meeting California's water needs. The centers are open daily at no charge.

Water Plan Update Hearings
DWR has scheduled 11 public meetings to discuss the 2005 Update of the California Water Plan. All are scheduled from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Here is the meetings list:
-- June 6 -- Oakland: MetroCenter Auditorium, 101 Eighth Street
-- June 9 -- Sacramento: Sterling Hotel, 13th and H Streets
-- June 13 -- Redding: Redding Memorial Veterans Hall, 1605 Yuba Street
-- June 14 -- Eureka: UC Agricultural Center, 5630 South Broadway
-- June 16 -- Tracy: Tracy Community Center, 400 East 10th Street
-- June 21 -- San Diego: San Diego County Water Authority, 4677 Overland Avenue
-- June 22 -- Los Angeles: Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, 700 North Alameda Street
-- June 23 -- Coachella: Southern Low Desert Resource Conservation & Development Council, 53900 Enterprise Way
-- June 23 -- Bakersfield: Kern County Water Agency, 3200 Rio Mirada Drive
-- June 29 -- San Luis Obispo: Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, 895 Aerovista Place
-- June 30 -- Fresno: State Building, 2550 Mariposa Mall, Room 1036

The deadline for receiving all comments is June 30. Comments may be submitted by e-mail, FAX or postal mail to: Paul Dabbs, Statewide Planning Branch, DWR, PO Box 942836, Sacramento, CA 94236-0001, FAX: 916-651-9289 or via e-mail to: pdabbs@water.ca.gov.
The Department of Water Resources operates and maintains the State Water Project, provides dam safety and flood control and inspection services, assists local water districts in water management and water conservation planning, and plans for future statewide water needs.

In related news, see: "DWR releases California Water Plan for public review".

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