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    Dec 10 2013

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    Agencies, organizations and legislators react to the release of Bay Delta Conservation Plan documents

    Reactions With the long-awaited release of the public review draft documents of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, reactions poured in from organizations and legislators around the state.

    Included in this post: A joint statement from American Rivers, The Bay Institute, Defenders of Wildlife, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Nature Conservancy;Californians for for a Fair Water Policy; California Farm Water Coalition; California Water Impact Network; Golden Gate Salmon Association; Friends of the River; Congressman Garamendi; Kern County Water Agency; Metropolitan Water District; a joint statement from Rep. George Miller (CA-11), Rep. Jerry McNerney (CA-9), Rep. John Garamendi (CA-3), Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-5), Rep. Doris Matsui (CA-6) and Rep. Ami Bera (CA-7) and Jackie Speier (CA-14); North State Water Alliance; Regional Water Authority (Sacramento); San Diego County Water Authority; State Water Contractors; Winnemem Wintu Tribe; and Senator Lois Wolk. Here's a rundown of the responses, filed in alphabetical order: From American Rivers, The Bay Institute, Defenders of Wildlife, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Nature Conservancy:

    “Our organizations— American Rivers, The Bay Institute, Defenders of Wildlife, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and The Nature Conservancy — have been deeply involved over the past seven years in the process to produce an acceptable BDCP as part of a larger solution. Past versions of the plan have  not met the threshold we seek – and the law requires – to develop and implement a set of actions that will 1) restore and sustain the Delta’s vanishing species and habitats, including California’s unique and commercially important Chinook salmon runs, and 2) reduce the vulnerability of the state’s water supply system to catastrophic failure, in a manner that reduces reliance on the Delta and respects Delta communities. Achieving these co-equal goals from the 2009 Delta Reform Act is critical because the status quo in the Delta is unacceptable from environmental, water supply and public safety  perspectives. Our organizations will now begin the intensive task of reviewing and analyzing the more than 30,000 pages of the draft BDCP. As we do so, we will be looking to see if the following elements of a successful plan have been included: *Significantly improved flows into, through and from the Delta into San Francisco Bay, as  the best available science demonstrates is necessary to conserve salmon and other native fish and wildlife. The overwhelming scientific consensus is that current levels of water diversions from the Delta are not sustainable from both the ecosystem and water supply perspectives, helping drive numerous species to the brink of extinction and creating conflicts over allowable exports every year. These problems will only worsen as a result of climate change. *A clear and workable adaptive management framework for achieving specific, science-based biological objectives that are necessary to conserve the Delta’s native fish, wildlife and natural communities. The plan must avoid the pitfall of providing guarantees for minimum water supply from the Delta that would in effect prevent adaptive management actions as informed by science to reduce exports as needed if biological objectives are not being achieved. *Decision making authority in the hands of the state and federal fish and wildlife agencies about whether the BDCP’s objectives are being met and what action must be taken to meet those objectives. The plan must take care to protect the integrity of the science-based decision-making process, such as decisions that might reduce exports, from being controlled by the exporters themselves. * Avoidance of the mistakes of the past in using public monies to provide flows, such as the failure of the Environmental Water Account and other prior efforts to acquire water for the environment, and not propose to pay exporters to maintain the export status quo in the Delta. *A cost-effective approach, in light of needed statewide investments in local and regional water supplies (including conservation, recycling, and stormwater capture) that could reduce reliance on the Delta and provide more reliable water. The law requires the water agencies who receive exported water to pay for all of the following: (1) the costs of the construction and operation of a new facility; (2) the mitigation actions necessary to fully mitigate all the environmental impacts associated with the project; and (3) contribute to the funding of the environmental restoration program. The plan must have a credible financing plan for both the exporter and public contributions, in order to ensure adequate funding for implementation. *A complementary approach to the Governor’s draft State Water Action Plan. The draft SWAP begins to lay out a meaningful strategy in which final decisions about Delta conveyance and habitat are made in the context of accompanying decisions about Bay-Delta flow and water quality standards, water conservation, and a suite of other actions that together define an overall solution to the Delta crisis. Refinement of the BDCP and greater definition of the SWAP should go hand in hand in the coming months. Read the full statement here:  Joint NGO BDCP press release December 9 2013_Final

    From the Californians for for a Fair Water Policy:

    “Californians for a Fair Water Policy, a statewide coalition opposing Gov. Brown’s water export tunnels, today launched a statewide campaign by their members … The groups rallied at the State Capitol as the Brown Administration released their proposed tunnels project. Opponents pointed out expected damage to water, the environment, fish, farming and water ratepayers. Opponents pointed out “fatal flaws” of the tunnels they said would be too costly, create no new water and do nothing to increase regional water self-reliance. Experts identified many impacts from the tunnels that would damage water quality, harm the environment, destroy fisheries and sustainable farming, and impose billions of dollars of increases on water ratepayers. Two-thirds of the water would go to huge agricultural operations on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, engaged in unsustainable agriculture, growing permanent crops on arid land. … ” Read the full press release here, which includes statements from AquaAlliance, California Delta Chambers & Visitors Bureau, Food & Water Watch, Friends of the River, Planning and Conservation League, and others here: Farmers, Fishermen, Environmentalists & Consumers Launch Campaign Against BDCP Tunnels

    From the California Farm Water Coalition:

    “California's water supply system has become unreliable and needs upgrading for the current and future demands of its residents. Farmers need reliable water supplies to grow food on millions of acres of productive farmland. Consumers face uncertainty when water supplies from the Sierras are interrupted. Today's release of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan Draft EIR/EIS is another step toward balancing both water supply reliability and costs for millions of Californians and the farmers that grow our food. “Reliable water supplies also mean better employment opportunities and economic benefits for California. Millions of jobs, business development and affordable housing are created when we have a reliable water supply. A variety of safe, affordable food comes from local farms. Without dependable water supplies, the food we buy will have to be sourced from other states or other countries that don't have the same strict pesticide and worker safety laws we rely on here in California.” View the full statement here:  CFWC BDCP statement

    From the California Water Impact Network:

    “California is in a state of permanent water crisis, but the Twin Tunnels will only exacerbate the problem – and saddle ratepayers with billions in debt in the process.  The Brown administration’s blandishments aside, the Twin Tunnels will do nothing to procure extra water for the state – they are merely a means of conveying water.  As always, the state’s consumptive water will be limited by the annual amount of snowpack in the Sierra Nevada and Shasta-­‐Trinity Mountains – a supply that all reliable computer models indicate will diminish significantly in coming decades. “There will be some beneficiaries of this project, however,” said Carolee Krieger, the executive director of the California Water Impact Network.  “The Twin Tunnels will allow a few hundred corporate farms  in the western San Joaquin Valley – corporations with junior water contracts – to increase their control over the state’s developed water. “ Krieger noted the Twin Tunnels will assure steady deliveries of subsidized water from the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta to the selenium-­‐impaired croplands of the western San Joaquin, depriving urban ratepayers of reliable supplies, greatly exacerbating the state’s already serious selenium and salt pollution problem and degrading Delta agriculture and fisheries. “What’s even worse is that DWR is disingenuously lowballing the true cost of this boondoggle,” continued Krieger.  “State officials maintain the Twin Tunnels project will ‘only’ cost $25 billion.  But the California Legislative Analyst’s Office notes that this figure does not include the interest costs of the project’s bonds.  Independent analyses put the final price tag at around $70 billion – and even this is optimistic, if we consider recent history.” … ” Read the full statement here:  C-WIN BDCP DEIS-R Media Release

    From the Golden Gate Salmon Association:

    “Two giant pipes and diversions big enough to dry up the entire Sacramento River at most times of the year can't be good for salmon,” GGSA executive director John McManus. “In addition, the state’s own analysis shows the tunnel and diversions could literally cook young salmon by causing upstream river temperatures to rise to lethal levels.”Earlier versions of the project drew warnings from federal fishery officials that it couldn’t qualify for permits needed to build it due to violations of laws protecting wildlife. “The state committed itself a few years ago to rebuilding Central Valley salmon runs to 990,000 naturally spawning fish,” said GGSA board member Zeke Grader. Grader is also the executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Association, a group representing commercial salmon fishermen. “The gigantic, hugely expensive, peripheral tunnels project being proposed is an abandonment of this commitment. While some elected officials are bending over backwards to help a small group of corporate growers, they're ignoring the huge value salmon bring to the state.” Read the full statement here:  GGSA BDCP 120913

    From Friends of the River:

    “We’re launching this campaign to stop this plan to build these massive tunnels that are part of a larger effort to dam dozens of rivers that we fought to protect over the last forty years, said Bob Center, Executive Director of Friends of the River (FOR). “With more than half of the water that used to flow into the San Francisco Bay-Delta already diverted, California deserves modern and sustainable water solutions instead of simply dusting off the Governor’s plan from more than thirty years ago.” One looming issue is whether the 34,000-page environmental review of the plan even complies with state and federal law. The agencies were supposed to complete written Biological Assessments and Opinions addressing the impacts of taking huge quantities of fresh water away from endangered and threatened fish species before issuing the BDCP Draft Plan and EIR/EIS for public review. “The public can’t realistically comment on the plan because the key information isn’t in there, said Bob Wright, FOR’s Senior Legal Counsel. “This is an advocacy piece that is in direct violation of the Endangered Species Act and several other state and federal laws and we will challenge it as such.” Read the full statement here: FOR_NEWS_RELEASE–BDCP_12-09-2013

    From Congressman Garamendi:

    “Thus far every analysis of the proposed twin tunnels and disruptive habitat restoration projects in the BDCP has shown the proposal fails to achieve the legally required goals of environmental restoration and reliable water. Since there has been no substantive change in the purpose or fundamental design of the BDCP, it is hard to imagine how these documents change the fundamental fact that the whole BDCP is a $25 billion boondoggle that will lead to the destruction of the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Western Hemisphere. This project still doesn’t create one gallon of new water, and it still doesn’t add one gallon of desperately needed storage for existing water. The BDCP remains a bad deal for California. “It's time to stop the madness and fully consider alternatives, such as the NRDC’s portfolio approach or the ‘Comprehensive Water Plan for All of California’ that I have proposed.” Read Congressman Garamendi's statement here:  Garamendi BDCP

    From the Kern County Water Agency:

    “The BDCP is our best chance to improve California’s water supply reliability and the health of the Delta, but comes with a large price tag.  The Agency and its Member Units will need to confirm affordability, water yield and related assurances,” said Agency Board of Directors President Ted Page. The BDCP is set to be published along with an associated Environmental Impact Statement in the Federal Register on Friday, December 13, 2013.  It is a habitat conservation plan that is designed to do more than just mitigate environmental impacts; it would actually contribute to the recovery of many of the Delta’s endangered species while improving water supplies for the State Water Project (SWP) and Central Valley Project (CVP). The BDCP includes habitat restoration and invasive species control, as well as plans for the construction of two tunnels capable of moving water through the Delta in a way that decreases the impacts on threatened and endangered fish, and increases the efficiency of the SWP and CVP. After nearly seven years of investigations, scientists know more than ever before about the ecosystems in the Delta, and this plan is the most detailed description of how to implement large-scale ecological and water conveyance improvements in the Delta. It is expected that the BDCP will create more than 100,000 acres of natural habitat in the Delta while also allowing DWR to significantly improve water allocations to the 29 SWP contractors (Contractors). In 2013, the SWP contractors received only 35 percent of contracted amounts.  Due to regulatory water losses in the Delta, an estimated 800,000 acre-feet of SWP and CVP water supplies flowed out into the ocean. If the BDCP had been in place, some or all of that water could have been pumped into San Luis Reservoir for use by the Contractors. SWP allocations could have been as high as 50 percent. “There is a possibility that the BDCP could relieve water supply shortages. This year the initial SWP allocation is just 5 percent, yet SWP contractors are contractually obligated to pay 100 percent for its entire SWP allocation of water. The Kern County Water Agency is committed to thoroughly examining this BDCP draft to fully understand whether it can mitigate the current unbalanced ratio of cost to water supplies for water districts in our area,” said Page. … ” Read more from the Kern County Water Agency here:  KCWA BDCP

    From the Metropolitan Water District:

    General Manager Jeff Kightlinger issued the following statement: “An important conversation about California water management and the real-life choices we face begins in earnest.  The basics of a Delta solution are now on the table, with a full vetting of numerous alternatives.  This is both a milestone and a reminder that the status-quo in the Delta is unacceptable for both the environment and the California economy. Metropolitan is grateful that the Brown and Obama administrations have advanced this process to a formal public draft which initiates the official 120-day comment period this Friday. Metropolitan pledges to work collaboratively with the administrations, fellow public water agencies and other key stakeholders to craft a final plan that addresses the co-equal goals enacted by the 2009 Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Reform Act legislation: restoring water supply reliability and enhancing the Delta ecosystem.” Read the full statement here: GM Statement on BDCP Public Release FINAL

    From Rep. George Miller (CA-11), Rep. Jerry McNerney (CA-9), Rep. John Garamendi (CA-3), Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-5), Rep. Doris Matsui (CA-6) and Rep. Ami Bera (CA-7) Jackie Speier (CA-14):

    “To date, the State has failed to provide an environmentally and financially sustainable plan that meets the co-equal goals of a reliable water supply to users while restoring the Delta ecosystem. Time and again, Governor Brown’s Administration refuses to honestly evaluate viable alternatives, take into account the concerns of local delta stakeholders who rely on the delta for their jobs and livelihoods, base their plan on sound, unbiased science, or provide answers to straightforward questions like how much water will be taken out of the Delta and how much it will cost taxpayers. Since there appears to be no substantive change in the purpose, fundamental design, or ecosystem restoration, it’s hard to imagine today’s announced plan is any different.” View full statement here: Miller et al

    From the North State Water Alliance:

    :California needs a comprehensive statewide water plan—it must not focus only on new tunnels as part of a narrow Bay-Delta solution. We encourage Governor Brown to further develop an innovative and comprehensive California Water Action Plan that addresses water and related environmental challenges in all parts of the state and meets the Legislature’s over-arching goals to meet the water supplies for all of California. As part of this plan, California needs more water, not just improved sharing across regions. Today, the state and federal agencies are focused on the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP). To be successful, the direct beneficiaries of the BDCP and related actions in the Bay-Delta must step forward and be fully responsible for any impacts or obligations (including appropriate mitigation) associated with any flows or funding requirements surrounding the Bay-Delta. More specifically, any proposed Bay-Delta actions must not injure any legal user of water or fish and wildlife habitat upstream of the Delta. The BDCP should also be fully integrated and logically sequenced with the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) and Delta Stewardship Council’s (DSC) Bay- Delta planning and proceedings, as well as federal counterparts. The Bay-Delta and the co-equal goals would also benefit from integrating additional surface and groundwater storage in Northern California, such as Sites reservoir. As the Alliance and its local entities evaluate the BDCP and related environmental documents, we will measure the BCDP against the following four policy pillars to determine whether it will affect the ability for water resources managers to assure sustainable water supplies for the economy and environment within the region–both now and for the next 50 years. The policy pillars were articulated by the Legislature in the 2009 Delta Reform Act, which expressly recognized the unique nature of the North State upstream of the Bay-Delta. •    Regional sustainability: The state policy on regional sustainability (Water Code §85021) mandates that “each region that depends on water from the Delta watershed shall improve its regional self-reliance for water through investment in water use efficiency, water recycling, advanced water technologies, local and regional water supply projects, and improved regional coordination of local and regional water supply efforts.” Water resources managers continue to implement this state policy. Conversely, the BDCP, SWRCB planning and other Delta actions should not interfere with or stifle upstream efforts to maintain or promote regional water sustainability and self-sufficiency in the North State. •    No redirected impacts: The Governor, Secretary of Interior and policy leaders in the BDCP  process have emphasized that the BDCP will not redirect any impacts to areas upstream of the Delta. In their July 25, 2012 statement, the Governor and Secretaries confirmed that “State and U.S. governments will make sure implementation of BDCP will not result in adverse effects on the water rights of those in the watershed of the Delta, nor will it impose any obligations on water users upstream of the Delta to supplement flows in and through the Delta.” The North State is neither a party to nor a direct beneficiary of the BDCP, thus there must be no resultant impacts to water supplies or the economy and environment in the North State. •    Water rights protections: Water supplies for all beneficial purposes in this region depend upon the exercise of water rights and contracts. As a result, the Legislature expressly recognized that water rights and area of origin protections in the North State watersheds shall not be impaired or diminished as a result of any program or project in the Bay-Delta. (Water Code §85031.) Water right, contract and area-of-origin priorities must be recognized and fully implemented by state and federal agencies to ensure that reliable supplies for all water uses and needs can be exercised in our region. These water rights also provide a solid foundation for the operation of the state and federal water projects, thus helping to advance active water management throughout California. •    Coequal goals: The state’s co-equal goals call for “providing a more reliable water supply for California.” (Water Code §85054.) This includes areas in the North State upstream of the Bay- Delta, where water supply entities will provide reliable water supplies for the region. More specifically, this includes more reliable water supplies for all beneficial uses, including cities and rural communities, farm lands and forests, refuges and managed wetlands, recreation and the meandering streams, creeks, canals, and rivers that support fisheries and aquatic habitat.” Read more the full statement from the North State Water Alliance here: NSWAStatement dec2013

    From the Regional Water Authority (Sacramento):

    “”We will be reviewing the BDCP public review draft and environmental documents in detail and are hopeful they address our region's concerns. Namely, that the BDCP clearly demonstrates that it will cause no harm to the Sacramento region now and in the future. In particular, that the BDCP includes:

    • Clear water supply assurances and enforceable legal provisions that demonstrate how plans to fix the Delta also protect the Sacramento region's water supplies and existing water rights.
    • A detailed operational plan for the BDCP that details how much water would be diverted during dry, wet and normal periods, as well as the amount of water needed to improve the Delta environment.
    • A meaningful role for Northern California in the BDCP's governance.
    • Guarantees that BDCP beneficiaries truly pay for the project's costs.

    “Ultimately, however, a Bay Delta Conservation Plan is just one element of a comprehensive plan that addresses water supply reliability for the entire state. Other elements of a statewide plan could benefit greatly from the same focus and urgency that has been given to the BDCP. “We urge the administration to develop a plan for operating California's water system that goes beyond a BDCP. A robust statewide operational plan would provide more certainty for regional water supplies in light of potential changes in Delta water quality standards, climate change, an evolving Delta ecosystem and the BDCP's potential implementation. Such a plan would also help to identify the most promising opportunities for additional surface and groundwater storage. “Water providers in the Sacramento region are committed to finding thoughtful and fair solutions for the Delta and the state's water challenges. We look forward to submitting our formal comments by the April 14, 2014 deadline and to working with the governor, our regional partners and statewide water interests on these critical issues.” Read the full statement here: RWA Statement on BDCP Release FINAL 120913 (2)

    From the San Diego County Water Authority:

    ” … The Water Authority has consistently supported the co-equal goals of water supply reliability and environmental restoration in the Bay-Delta, but it has not endorsed any specific project proposal to date. Instead, the Water Authority is undertaking a comprehensive review of the four main options for addressing the complex problems plaguing the Bay-Delta, while raising tough questions about the state’s financing plan for a project that may cost up to $25 billion. “The Water Authority believes any fixes should be right-sized to meet the real demands for water from the Bay-Delta, and that the state should require firm, long-term financial commitments from those who have said they will pay for the project,” said Thomas V. Wornham, Chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “To date, no such financial commitments have been made.” … ” Read the full statement here:  San Diego County Water Authority BDCP

    From the State Water Contractors:

    Terry Erlewine, General Manager of the State Water Contractors, released the following statement: ““Currently, we’re crippled by outdated infrastructure and a regulatory environment that is hindering our ability to capture fresh water when it is abundant, lessening the amount of water available to use in dry periods – a problem that is exacerbated as we conclude one of the driest years on record. Putting in place a modern system to create a more reliable water supply is crucial to ensuring clean and adequate water for 25 million Californians and millions of acres of farmland, while also restoring the fragile ecosystem in the Delta. Today’s release of the public draft of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan and environmental documents marks an important step in that process. The next step for individual State Water Project contractors will be to review these documents and provide comment.” View the full statement here:  SWC BDCP View more reactions from water agencies here:  BDCP_WhatPeopleAreSaying_12.9.13

    From the Winnemem Wintu Tribe:

    “There is no precedent for the killing of an estuary of this size, so how could any study be trusted to protect the Delta for salmon and other fish? How can they even know what the effects will be?” said Chief and Spiritual Leader Caleen Sisk.  “The end of salmon would also mean the end of Winnemem, so the BDCP is a threat to our very existence as indigenous people.” As one of the many traditional salmon tribes in California, the Winnemem rely on access to salmon to maintain our cultural and religious practices. The peripheral tunnels if ever constructed would therefore be in violation of our indigenous rights to maintain our cultural practices with salmon, as outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. … ” Read the full statement here:  Winnemem WIntu BDCP Press Release

    From Senator Lois Wolk:

    State Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis) today issued the following statement in response to the release of the draft documents on the proposed Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) for public comment: “I continue to be concerned that the state has chosen to follow a path that will not solve either the state's water supply or the Delta's ecosystem challenges. The cost for the twin tunnels continues to increase while the amount of water that can be safely diverted from the Delta continues to decrease. The BDCP pits region against region and relies upon huge ratepayer increases and taxpayer subsidies from those who would see little or no benefit in the urban areas while others in the Delta and Northern California would have their livelihoods destroyed. Also, the price of the water delivered to agriculture would make it impossible for farming to continue in the Central Valley. It's time to put more effort into a viable alternative, a Plan B — a more affordable, less divisive and more achievable path forward.” Full statement here: Lois Wolk BDCP

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      1 comment

      1. tsac0008

        This plan is purely and simply a redistribution of water to the wealthy benefactors of politics, nothing else, all at taxpayer expense. If allowed to occur it could only negatively impact the Delta and its environment. If climate warming is occurring, what sane person would seek to perpetuate the planting of permanent crops in the poison, desert soils such as found in the Westlands? California agriculture has increased permanently irrigated lands substantially over the last 25 years and California politicians have welcomed illegal immigration, both of which demand greater and greater amounts of water. Unfortunately nature does not supply adequate amounts of water to satiate such demand. Responsible government should recognize those facts and act responsibly. Instead we are presented with a plumbing scheme that is clearly capable of draining all of the North’s water supply southward.

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