NEWS WORTH NOTING: Coalition: Delta Plan amendments miss the boat; New report reveals human impacts of nearly two decades of water cuts in CA, Coalition for a Sustainable Delta and CA Farm water coalition respond

Delta and Environmental Justice Coalition: Delta Plan Amendments Miss the Boat

From Restore the Delta:

On April 18, Restore the Delta and The Environmental Justice Coalition for Water sent a joint letter in opposition to the Delta Stewardship Council’s proposed amendments for surface storage, conveyance, and performance measures to the Delta Plan.

The amendments lack a true needs assessment for CA WaterFix, a water supply analysis, a cost-benefits analysis, and fails to consider environmental justice, anti-discrimination, and human right to water issues in their planning and scientific documents within the Delta Plan.

EJCW Staff Attorney Randy Reck said, “The proposed Delta Plan amendments are the latest iteration of a Delta planning process that continues to marginalize the very environmental justice and Tribal communities who bear a disproportionate burden—both environmental and financial—of over-reliance on the Delta. EJCW formed eighteen years ago in response to similar exclusionary tactics employed in the CALFED process. While significant advances have been made in state policy on environmental justice since then, including the Human Right to Water policy, Delta communities continue to be overlooked by a process that doesn’t even pretend to include them. EJCW calls on the DSC to abide by existing environmental justice policies and the values that underlie them, including transparency, collaboration, equity, and opportunity.”

The language of these documents becomes even more problematic via the use of the word “promote” in reference to CA WaterFix.

“The Council puts the cart before the horse with its proposed Delta Plan language promoting the Delta Tunnels project,” said Restore the Delta’s Policy Analyst, Tim Stroshane. “They will become both promoter and regulator of the Tunnels and other dam projects if they approve this amendment. It is farcical.”

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta said, “The Delta Plan Amendments, as proposed by the Delta Stewardship Council, ignore large portions of the Delta Reform Act that deal with Delta stewardship and promote the construction of the Delta Tunnels. In addition, these revised amendments and the Delta Plan in its entirety fail to identify and evaluate the impacts of new conveyance on the Delta environmental justice community. The Council, unfortunately, is continuing to push through boondoggle tunnels that will benefit special interest water districts at the expense of the Delta — the ecosystem and communities that they are to protect, restore and enhance.”

DSC Council Meets Next Week
On Friday, April 28, 2017 at 9 a.m., the Delta Stewardship Council will meet at the Park Tower Plaza, 980 Ninth Street, Sacramento, 2nd Floor Conference Room to discuss their proposed Delta Plan amendments. Authors of the coalition letter and Delta activists will attend.

New Report Reveals Human Impacts of Nearly Two Decades of Water Cuts in California

Working Californians Hit Hardest, Facing Losses in Jobs and Wages

From the Southern California Water Committee:

A report released today by the Southern California Water Committee and the Committee for Delta Reliability exposes the unintended consequences of nearly two decades of water cuts caused by environmental regulation – showing the hardest hit are those who rely on agriculture to survive, such as farmworkers, food processors, truck drivers and warehouse workers, among many others.

Acclaimed U.C. Berkeley Professor and Department of Agricultural & Resources Chair David L. Sunding studied the impacts of water cuts since 2000 and found that California is losing an average of 1.3 million acre-feet of water each year – enough water to sustain more than 10 million Southern California residents for a full year or irrigate 400,000 acres of farmland. Sunding also studied future impacts of water cuts and determined that the outlook is bleak for hard-working Californians toiling each day to grow our nation’s food supply, as they’re expected to lose more than 21,000 jobs every year over the course of 30 years – with more than 11,000 being farmworker jobs.

“Water cuts have resulted in more than 38 million people competing for fewer available resources,” Sunding said. “While everyone is impacted to a degree, it’s clear that California’s farmworkers have been ignored and forgotten in the state’s water woes – ultimately losing jobs and income.” The report concludes that farmworker wages are an unforeseen causality of water cuts – with workers already having lost $900 million in wages since 2000 and poised to lose $4 billion in wages over the span of three decades.

Sunding’s data also shows that consumers are losing out – with California’s fertile heartland shrinking and threatening the future of the Golden State’s food supply. The report concludes that 55,000 acres of farmland have been fallowed each year since 2000, and that number is expected to increase to 195,000 acres of farmland each year over the course of 30 years.

Agriculture is not the only industry impacted by water cuts. The report also concludes that current water restrictions have already cost urban communities more than $5 billion since 2000 as they recoup lost water supplies. That number is expected to grow, as it’s estimated that water districts will likely spend an additional $10 billion over the next 30 years just to make up for water cutbacks.

“Although California is no longer facing an emergency drought, this year’s influx of rain does not solve the long-term problem of water storage, management and availability,” added Charles Wilson, Executive Director of the Southern California Water Committee. “We cannot conserve our way out of a drought and assume that those negatively impacted by water cuts will be made whole. Instead, we need a balanced solution – like California WaterFix – to ensure a clean and reliable water source for all Californians, now and in the future.”

Coalition for a Sustainable Delta Responds to Southern California Water Committee Study

From the Coalition for a Sustainable Delta:

Today, the Southern California Water Committee released a new report exposing the consequences of decades of water cuts caused by environmental regulations. Not surprisingly, California’s San Joaquin Valley and Southern California regions are taking the hardest hit, to the tune of an average of 1.3 million acre-feet of water each year.

The study’s findings include $5 billion in lost farm worker compensation and $3 billion in lost net farm income; a loss of 21,279 jobs statewide annually, including 11,025 farm jobs; and $15.8 billion in additional water supply and conservation investments for urban customers.

“Unfortunately, we are not surprised by the report’s findings. These water losses are consistent with the 1.05 million acre feet of lost water we reported last year during the height of the drought,” Michael Boccadoro, Coalition for a Sustainable Delta spokesperson said. “While the economic costs of regulators’ water supply restrictions are now clear, the benefits are not. We simply are not seeing any value as salmon and other native protected fish species are continuing to decline.”

The ongoing impacts identified in this report underscore the immediate need for a comprehensive solution to the state’s water supply issues, including improved conveyance, storage and operational flexibility.

“We need solutions that protect jobs, people and fish. We cannot afford to continue to sacrifice the San Joaquin Valley economy and its workers’ livelihoods on efforts that fail to provide any real benefits,” Boccadoro concluded.

California Farm Water Coalition responds to report

From the California Farm Water Coalition:

” … The broken system has already cost urban communities more than $5 billion. If we continue down this same path, water districts are poised to spend an additional $10.1 billion over the next 30 years just to make up for water cutbacks.

We’re all grateful for this year’s wet winter, but it does not solve our long-term management problems. To do that, we must all work together using sound science and common sense to make smart choices about allocation that benefit all, including farmers, urban consumers and the environment.

Read full statement here.

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About News Worth Noting:  News Worth Noting is a collection of press releases, media statements, and other materials produced by federal, state, and local government agencies, water agencies, and academic institutions, as well as non-profit and advocacy organizations.  News Worth Noting also includes relevant legislator statements and environmental policy and legal analyses that are publicly released by law firms.  If your agency or organization has an item you would like included here, please email it to Maven.

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