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Sen. Darrell Steinberg has more than Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger bearing down on him when it comes to California water.

Supervisors of the five Delta-region counties have been meeting with the senate president pro tem to air worries, and firing off missives that outline their concerns that the Delta will get the short end of a deal now being negotiated at the Capitol.

The governor has threatened to veto many bills if a deal isn't hatched this weekend.

On Thursday, the Delta supervisors sent a letter to Steinberg, a Sacramento Democrat, collectively complaining that water proposals on the table have "serious gaps" in policy and financial protection for the counties.

The letter, which you can read here, was signed by the supes of Sacramento, Solano, Yolo, San Joaquin and Contra Costa counties. It praises Steinberg's "clear sensitivity" and dedication to the interests of the Delta region.

But Contra Costa County Supervisor Mary Piepho told The Bee she questions whether Steinberg can effectively defend the Delta's interests while he's trying to broker a deal with other legislative leaders.

"He does not have his sole focus on the Delta," Piepho said. "He's representing everybody. And that's his role as a leader."

Piepho wondered whether Sen. Lois Wolk, the Democrat of Yolo County, couldn't be let in on the negotiating action at this point.

Steinberg didn't appoint Wolk to the joint conference committee that hashed over water bills. That disappointed her, Wolk said.

But Steinberg has spent a lot of time meeting this week with Delta reps, including Wolk, his office said. And he's a Delta leader, too, his staff members point out.

"From the beginning of his leadership of the Senate, Senator Steinberg has made protection of the Delta a top priority in any larger water discussions, as evidenced by including a Delta representative in eight months of intense water work groups," Steinberg spokeswoman Alicia Trost said.

"As the only Northern California representative in the Big 5 meeting in water," Trost said, "Senator Steinberg has fought for, and won, major concessions that will enhance and protect the Delta's environment and economy while ensuring Californians will have access to a reliable water supply."



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