CVV News l October 26, 2022
MERCED — Recalling the days he spent playing football on the banks of Bear Creek, Assemblymember Adam Gray joined Merced city and county officials in announcing a $6 million restoration project on six miles of the waterway that flows through the city of Merced.
The money will be used to restore the creek from McKee Road to 16th Street in Merced. The funding will be used to help remove invasive plants, restore eroded banks and pay for cleanup of the creek bed and its banks. It is hoped the restoration will create a more hospitable wildlife habitat.
“When I was a kid, I used to come down here in this park and play football; I rode my bicycle on the bike trails,” said Gray, who spoke at a press conference on Tuesday in Albert Larson Park. “It was beautiful. By restoring this creek, we can pass this asset to the next generation.”
Gray said work already done by the city, Mayor Matthew Serratto and volunteers from the Bear Creek Yacht Club has been instrumental in setting the stage for state funding.
Mayor Serratto talked about restoring the connections that so many people from Merced once felt for Bear Creek.
“People talk about swimming in this creek,” said Serratto. “They talk about swimming in it and fishing in it. And a lot of folks talk about tubing on the creek. Adam called this a gem of the community; we’re of the same mind. We need to restore that gem and Adam has been instrumental in getting this done.”
The first phase of the project will begin with surveying then proceed to permitting, said city manager Stephanie Dietz, and require 12 to 18 months. The full restoration is expected to take up to 6 years.
“This is going to be an important project for the city but also for the entire county,” said Supervisor Josh Pedrozo. “The entire 6 miles that is being restored runs through my district, so it’s especially important to me. And having Adam as a partner has been very important. He worked hard to make it happen. That vocal leadership in Sacramento makes sure we are heard. Without someone willing to raise his voice, we wouldn’t be.”
Gray spent a lot of time following the presentation talking to reporters who were getting a closer look at the creek, which included some floating debris near the presentation site.
“I am excited about the opportunities we have here,” said Gray. “We all share the desire to make this an enjoyable place for our community. It’s a gem. And we’ve got to make sure that everyone can use it and enjoy just as we did years ago.”
Audit of Broken State Water Forecasts Approved
CVV News l June 28, 2022
SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Adam Gray (D-Merced) announced the Joint Legislative Audit Committee has approved his request to audit California’s water operations. The audit will shine a light on the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Resources Control Board and their failures to accurately forecast California’s water supply and the impacts of those flawed forecasts on reservoir operations and the allocation of water to rights holders.
Gray cited the overestimation and premature release of 700,000 acre-feet of water last year as one of his prime considerations
“Errors on this scale have real and measurable consequences,” said Gray. “The managers of the largest local, state, and federal reservoirs use this information to determine when to let water accumulate and when to let water out to make room for the coming snowmelt. Growers use the information to predict how much water they can expect for their farms and how many acres they can afford to plant. The estimates are used to inform everything from flood control to power generation and water quality standards.”
Gray pointed out that other public agencies – including local irrigation districts and a federal agency whose duties include calculating how much water is in the annual snowpack – did not make similar mistakes.
“Other organizations forecasting the same water content and runoff estimates from the same patches of snow have already adapted,” said Gray. “DWR should be a leader in this space, but instead, they are playing catchup to many of the same organizations that have been telling them to fix these problems for decades.”
The Department of Water Resources released huge sums of water last year in anticipation of spring runoff that did not materialize, draining reservoirs and leaving operators with less stored water than was necessary. This mismanagement is especially noteworthy as the drought persists into 2022 and water becomes increasingly scarce.
“No one expects DWR or any of these organizations to get the number exactly right,” said Gray. “But when the state’s best forecasts are demonstrably inferior to local and federal forecasts we need to ask why, and we need to fix the problems as soon as possible. Until we understand what has gone wrong with the agencies charged with managing California’s water, we cannot understand how to fix the problem.”
With the audit now approved, a representative from the State Auditor’s office told the Committee the audit would take six to seven months to complete.