NEWS WORTH NOTING: Activists oppose Delta Plan amendments at Delta Stewardship Council meeting; Carbon offset methodology for Delta wetland restoration; ACR presents innovation award to the Delta Conservancy; Yolo County farmers survey on SGMA

Activists Oppose Delta Plan Amendments at Delta Stewardship Council Meeting

From Restore the Delta:

Delta activists voiced their opposition to the proposed Delta Plan amendments at the Delta Stewardship Council in Sacramento today.

Representatives from Restore the Delta and other Delta groups said the proposed amendments lack basic analytical documentation, like a needs assessment for CA WaterFix, a water supply analysis, and cost-benefits analysis. The proposed amendments, like the Delta Plan, also fail to consider environmental justice, anti-discrimination, and human right to water issues in their planning and scientific documentation.

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla Executive Director for Restore the Delta said, “We are calling on the Delta Stewardship Council to drop the proposed Delta Plan amendment that promotes CA WaterFix as the preferred alternative for new Delta Conveyance. The Council needs to follow the legislative mandate that grants it, its authority, and the recent court order to revise the Delta Plan to include measurable targets to achieve reduced Delta reliance before approving the Delta tunnels.”

The Delta Stewardship Council was formed under the Delta Reform Act of 2009 with the mandate of implementing the co-equal goals of providing a more reliable water supply for California AND protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem. Proposals to “promote” water conveyance (aka the Delta Tunnels) would export more Delta water to large agricultural interests in the Southern San Joaquin Valley and Southern California cities, putting the co-equal goals out of balance.

Delta farmer Russell Van Loben Sels said, “The Delta Stewardship Council is exceeding its legislated mandate by choosing to promote a project, rather than creating a framework to guide projects proposed for the Delta.”

President of the California Striped Bass Association, Captain Jim Cox said, “Delta water exports have compromised the entire delta ecosystem by effecting the lowest species on the food chain. A once-thriving delta system now has adult fish at half the size they were, even just a decade ago. The tunnels plan will increase this effect to the point where no fish local or migratory will be able to exist.”

In addition to creating a host of environmental problems for the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary, disenfranchised communities in San Joaquin County and the other four Delta counties will also suffer the effects of the Delta Tunnels. For example, generations of Filipino-Americans in Stockton have endured decades of neglect brought on by other infrastructure projects, and fear that the Delta Tunnels will bring about more of the same for their community.

Community educator, Nikki Chan, with Stockton’s Little Manila Foundation says:  “Communities are never rebuilt, regardless of the promises made by officials, and the people left behind are the ones who get to deal with negative environmental impacts. In the case of the Delta tunnels, our community members will lose access to fishing areas, marinas, and boating ramps. After construction we learned from the environmental documents that our community members will be left with degraded water quality and contaminated fisheries.”

Activists and co-authors of the joint letter sent to the DSC on April 18 asked the DSC to consider other options for improving surface storage, performance measures, and conveyance—like fixing fish screens at the existing water pumps near Tracy—without increasing environmental degradation to the ailing San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary. To secure these outcomes, RTD and EJWC suggested in their joint letter that the DSC include environmental justice and public health chapters in the Delta Plan’s Environmental Impacts Report.

The groups also request that the DSC pursue a reduced exports alternative to comply with the Delta Plan’s primary goal of reduced reliance on water exports from the ecologically impaired Bay-Delta estuary.

ACR Approves Landmark Carbon Offset Methodology for California Wetland Restoration

From the American Carbon Registry:

Today the American Carbon Registry (ACR), a nonprofit enterprise of Winrock International, announced approval of a new carbon offset methodology to scientifically quantify greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions from the restoration of California deltaic and coastal wetlands. The methodology was developed by a high-profile group of partners — the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy as lead agency and HydroFocus as lead author with technical support from the University of California at Berkeley and Tierra Resources. Funding for the methodology was provided by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), the California Coastal Conservancy, the Metropolitan Water District and California Department of Water Resources (DWR).

The new ACR methodology combines California data and restoration techniques to create a rigorous scientific framework for carbon offset project development. Opportunities are abundant to enhance current land-use practices by restoring wetlands or converting to rice cultivation in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, Suisun Marsh, and California coastal areas. Carbon offsets generated by the projects can be sold to corporations to meet their voluntary emissions-reduction goals. Additional sources of offsets are also being considered by California regulators for eligibility in the state’s Cap-and-Trade Program, under which power plants and oil refineries are mandated to reduce or offset their emissions.

Restoration activities that rebuild subsided lands are critical to long-term ecosystem sustainability, are important to reducing the risk of levy failure and sea level rise, and are a significant source of GHG emissions reductions.”  said Steve Deverel, President of HydroFocus.

In the Bay-Delta Area, more than 90 percent of historic tidal wetlands disappeared in the last 150 years. Over 2.5 billion cubic meters of organic soils have disappeared since delta islands were first diked and drained for agriculture in the late 1800s, resulting in land subsidence up to 25 feet below sea level. Drained and cultivated organic soils continue to oxidize, subside and emit an estimated 1.5 to 2 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent annually — equal to annual emissions from over 300,000 passenger vehicles.

Research in freshwater emergent wetlands on delta organic soils shows that carbon capture wetlands are the most carbon-rich landscape per acre. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), DWR, HydroFocus and the University of California at Berkeley have been studying subsidence and GHG emissions of rice and managed wetlands in the delta since the 1980s and have documented very high rates of primary productivity in wetlands.

“State and federal funding remains insufficient to address land subsidence that threatens the California water system, and carbon market revenues could help fill the funding gap,” said Campbell Ingram, executive officer of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy. ”The new ACR methodology provides an incentive to landowners in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, Suisun Marsh, and other historically natural wetland areas in California to convert their most subsided and marginal agricultural lands to wetlands or to produce wetlands crops such as rice, which will stop land subsidence and reverse it over time.”

ACR Presents Innovation Award to the Delta Conservancy

From the American Carbon Registry:

Last night, the American Carbon Registry (ACR), a nonprofit enterprise of Winrock International, hosted its annual gala reception to recognize and thank its members and partners. ACR Director John Kadyszewski welcomed guests, presented highlights from the year and described the awards to be presented, including the individual Climate Leadership award as well as organizational awards based on ACR’s guiding principles of innovation, quality and excellence.

The Innovation award was presented to the developers of a landmark methodology for California wetland restoration. ACR honored the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy as the lead agency, HydroFocus as the lead author and both U.C. Berkeley and Tierra Resources for technical support for the development of the methodology for the Restoration of California Deltaic and Coastal Wetlands. Funding for the methodology was provided by the California Coastal Conservancy, Department of Water Resources, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Metropolitan Water District and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD).

In the San Francisco Bay Area, more than 90 percent of historic tidal wetlands disappeared in the last 150 years. Over 2.5 billion cubic meters of organic soils have disappeared since delta islands were first diked and drained for agriculture in the late 1800s, resulting in land subsidence up to 25 feet below sea level. Drained and cultivated organic soils in the delta continue to oxidize, subside and emit an estimated one to two million metric tons of CO2-equivalent annually — equal to annual emissions from over 300,000 passenger vehicles.

We have been pleased to work with ACR and other partners on this methodology and appreciate the recognition,” said Steve Deverel, president of HydroFocus. “Restoration activities that rebuild subsided lands are critical to long-term ecosystem sustainability, are important to reducing the risk of levy failure and sea level rise, and are a significant source of GHG emissions reductions.

“State and federal funding remains insufficient to address land subsidence that threatens the California water system, and carbon market revenues could help fill the funding gap,” added Campbell Ingram, executive officer of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy. ”The new ACR methodology provides an incentive to landowners in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, Suisun Marsh and other historically natural wetland areas in California to convert their most subsided and marginal agricultural lands to wetlands, or to produce wetlands crops such as rice, which will stop land subsidence and reverse it over time.”

Yolo County Farmers Encouraged to Share Their Perspectives on California Sustainable Groundwater Management Act through County-wide Survey

This week researchers from Yolo County based Stockholm Environment Institute and ERA Economics sent a survey to farmers in Yolo County to provide them with an opportunity to share their perspectives about the California Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

The survey is being conducted in collaboration with the Yolo County Farm Bureau and The Water Resources Association of Yolo County.  The survey is part of a larger project looking at groundwater and water management for Yolo County agriculture, which is being funded by the USDA Water for Agriculture program.  Farmers in the area can return the survey in the pre-paid envelopes provided.

If you are a farmer in Yolo County and did not receive the survey please email YoloSurvey@sei-us.org to request one.

 

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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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