DELTA STEWARDSHIP COUNCIL: Changes made to Conveyance, Storage, and Operations amendment, but Delta advocates still not satisfied

It was a standing-room only crowd that packed two rooms at the April meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council, as Delta advocates gathered to voice their opposition to the California Water Fix project, and so by extension, the Council’s proposed amendment to the Delta Plan regarding conveyance, storage, and operation.

Executive Officer Jessica Pearson began with the background and history of the Delta Plan amendment.  “The Delta Reform Act envisioned a joining of the Delta Plan and at that time, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, which was a conveyance and habitat program,” she said.  “The BDCP was required to comply with specified provisions of the Act, which are carried over into our amendment language, but it did not have to be consistent with the regulations in our Delta Plan and was effectively carved out of the Council’s regulatory covered actions process.  If BDCP had complied with the requirements of the Act, it was then to be automatically incorporated into the Delta Plan.  The Council would not have had discretion in the matter, and BDCP would have become our promoted option by default.”

Now that BDCP is no longer moving forward, any conveyance project, whether it be Water Fix or some future iteration, must comply with the Delta Plan’s regulations, which I argue are a higher bar than were the Reform Acts requirements,” she continued.  “A storage or operations project or plan, if it meets the definition of a covered action, would also need to demonstrate consistency with the Delta Plan’s regulations.  In the amendment before you now, we have another opportunity to shape and form and improve conveyance, storage, and operations projects, including those outside our covered action jurisdiction.”

Last week, a revised discussion draft was released which follows the format of the original Delta Plan with narrative, problem statements, and recommendations.  “Our hope is that you find the draft responsive to your feedback and to public comment, and where it is not, we can have more dialog today, dig into the language itself, then hear more comment,” she said.

My goal for the discussion is to move past staked out positions of California’s water wars and into meaningful and fact-based dialog about solutions for how to improve the infrastructure and operations of our water supply system in order to further our coequal goals.  All this must be done with consideration for a changing future and changing conditions.  What’s expected to be the new climate normal, more extremes, higher sea levels, warmer temperatures, changed runoff patterns, and more flexible and resilient infrastructure was a key theme of our 19 principles.”

The staff draft strongly concludes that promoting the status quo of Calfiornia’s water infrastructure is not defensible, given our charge,” Ms. Pearson said.  “To quote the 2014 Delta Challenges report penned by current and former Delta Lead Scientists, current arrangement for addressing this combination of complexity, uncertainty, and change is unsustainable as evidenced by both declines in native species and dissatisfaction with water deliveries.”

There are no silver bullets.  These issues are exceedingly complex and there are many uncertainties,” she said.  “To quote Delta Challenges again, complex wicked problems like the Delta rarely yield to simplistic solutions directed at only one dimension of the problem.   Just adding storage or a fixed number of restored ecosystem acres in the Delta won’t solve our problems, nor will only investing in regional infrastructure.  Similarly, only improving Delta conveyance will yield limited benefits.  Investments are needed across the board and combined with existing elements of the Delta Plan, including requirements for reduced reliance.  We are taking an all-of-the-above approach to achieving the coequal goals.”

We must also determine how to protect local communities when it comes to construction of specific projects, particularly conveyance.  The black and white nature of the debate can be misleading and we can’t fall victim to false choices.  Improved water supply reliability or quality for one group does not have to mean decreased supplies for another.  However, we must acknowledge that some tradeoffs will occur, and we should plan for those and approach them intentionally.”

The path forward is much less certain than we’d like.  Science gives us guideposts and provides risk assessments, but not tidy solutions or guarantees,” said Ms. Pearson.  “For any new conveyance or storage project, and for any major operational change, we must insist on outcome based analysis, and we must rely on adaptive management to help us achieve the goals that we set.”

CHALLENGES FACING THE DELTA

Anthony Navasero, Senior Engineer with the Delta Stewardship Council, then gave a brief presentation on the background of the issues discussed in the problem statements of the draft.

Historically, the Delta is the largest estuary on the West Coast.  The pre-development Delta was a complex system of dendritic streams and channels.  It is estimated that over 40% of the state’s runoff flowed through the Delta.  The San Francisco Estuary Institute has estimated that over 70% of the Delta was an emergent freshwater wetland and another 10% of other types of wetlands.  The Delta was almost 50 to 100% wetted, which supported a diverse ecology with over 750 plant and animal species.  Less than a couple of hundred people were estimated to live in the Delta at the time.

Even then, the Delta was not static, but a dynamic and changing landscape with tidal and seasonal effects continually evolving and reshaping, Mr. Navasero said.  “150 years of human intervention in and around the Delta has significantly changed the Delta; changes such as reclamation of land, where approximately 1100 miles of levee construction developed over 400,000 acres of farmland and increased Delta residents to approximately 500,000 in population, has reshaped what the Delta is now.  As a result, the wetted area in the Delta has dropped from 70 to approximately 5% of the area in the Delta.  The Delta today faces changes in salinity, flow, and other effects, which have led to a well documented decline in the ecosystem.”

Most of California’s precipitation falls in the north, but for various reasons, two-thirds of the state’s population is located along the coast in the south, he said. This geographic imbalance between where water is available and where water demand is high, as well as the fact that precipitation’s highly variable and unevenly distributed are at the crux of the issues with today’s water system.

California built an elaborate storage and conveyance system to distribute water to over 25 million Californians for consumption, for irrigation for 3 million acres of farmland, to provide the lifeblood to the Silicon Valley and industry throughout the state, and to provide water for the environment, such as ecological preserves,” he said.  “This geographic imbalance between the precipitation and population helps drive the development of water.”

To move water from where it is in the state to where the demand is, several storage and conveyance systems were developed.  Early on, the state depended first upon surface water, and then as development expanded further away from surface water supplies, tapped into groundwater from local aquifers.  But as the state population grew, larger facilities and infrastructure were needed for the growth of the state.

First, Hetch Hetchy reservoir system, a multi-pipeline system, was built to supply the City of San Francisco.  Not to be outdone, the Pardee Reservoir and the Mokelumne Aqueduct, another multi-pipeline system which is mostly above ground and over the Delta, was built to serve residents in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area.  The Central Valley Project and the State Water Project systems of reservoirs and aqueducts deliver and transfer water through the Delta.  Other storage and conveyance systems have been in and around the Delta, such as the Contra Costa’s Los Vaqueros Reservoir and the North Bay Aqueduct.  All of these projects combine conveyance and storage and are centered in the Delta, the hub to most of California’s water supply interests.

Rain and snowmelt from the Northern California mountains flows into the Delta; on average, about 80% of the Delta flow is from the Sacramento River, about 15% is from the San Joaquin River, and approximately 5% from the east side tributaries such as the Mokelumne and the Cosumnes Rivers.  Historically Delta flows moved from the north- and south-westerly into the center of the Delta and then out to the San Francisco Bay.  Additionally, flows and reservoir releases from the Delta watershed limits salt water intrusion and managed tidal influences from the San Francisco Bay.

From the 40s on, infrastructure was built to manage the water system in the Delta, but have significantly affected flows.  In the early 50s, the Cross Channel infrastructure was built to deliver fresh water to the east and south Delta.  Large pumping plants from the state and federal projects in the south Delta draw large amounts of water via the Old and Middle Rivers and pump it out of the Delta.  This pumping action reverses natural flows backwards towards pumping facilities and pulls water across the Delta.  Native fish move with these reverse flows, which can place them in less favorable areas for habitat foraging as well endanger of entrainment and predation.  Reverse flows can also draw saltier water from the Bay into the Central and South Delta.  Additionally, in-Delta users depend on fresh water supplies.

These conditions are especially problematic in dry periods in droughts.  With the Delta managed as a freshwater system year round, it is a constant balance between fresh and salt water.  All of this is happening in an estuary that is home to 750 types of plants and animal species.

The Delta ecosystem has experienced considerable changes and is still evolving,” said Mr. Navasero.  “The current Delta bears little resemblance to predevelopment Delta in terms of its water flow regime, habitat structure, and fish communities.  The Independent Science Board has identified four groups of drivers and stressors affecting the Delta ecosystem.  Global drivers are very difficult to directly influence such as climate change and sea level rise.  Legacy drivers and stressors encompass many of the physical changes to the Delta that have occurred over the last 150 years, such as habitat loss, the construction of levees and water management infrastructure.  Current drivers and stressors include changes to flow regimes in the Delta, water quality, and fish losses at pumping facilities.  Future drivers are likely to include land use changes and population growth, subsidence and invasive species.  All of these drivers and stressors need to be addressed to protect, restore, and enhance the Delta ecosystem.”

But the Delta is also facing future challenges,” he continued.  “Climate change will bring new challenges such as more variable and early precipitation as well as diminishing snowpack over time.  This means that the Sierra will be less of a natural reservoir than traditionally depended upon.  Sea level rise will threaten already aging levees and other infrastructure, and affected Delta ecology will increasingly be stressed due to managed water system used for multiple and increasing demands.  Tradeoffs between ESA species and water operations will lead to increased uncertainty for both.  Thus, the consensus is status quo cannot continue.”

AMENDING THE DELTA PLAN

Cassandra Enos-Nobriga, Deputy Executive Officer of Planning at the Delta Stewardship Council then discussed what they are trying to achieve with the amendment.  She began by noting that as the Delta Plan is written now, there are various regulatory policies and recommendations that apply to covered actions, including water conveyance, storage, and operations projects.  “These are policies and recommendations related to protecting the Delta and the ecosystem for project impacts, policies and recommendations related to reducing reliance on the Delta, and those related to improving water quality,” she said.  “These are policies that current covered actions currently have to meet through the consistency determination process.”

The Delta Reform Act allows for periodic reviews and updates to the Delta Plan in response to changing conditions.  “The current Delta Plan commits to revisiting conveyance if the BDCP did not occur by 2016,” she said.  “Thus, we are following up on our commitment to revisit conveyance.

Currently, all proposals ­must show consistency with the existing covered actions; the amendment would add new recommendations to the existing policies and recommendations.  “These recommendations are recommendations to help guide applicants, but they would not control a projects consistency with the Delta Plan,” Ms. Enos-Nobriga said.

Bethany Pane, Chief Counsel to the Council clarifies that the Delta Plan’s policies would apply to covered actions, but the recommendations would not.  “They would just inform project proponents decision making, but they would not apply in the covered actions process,” she said.

Councilmember Skip Thomson asked if a recommendation could be that if Water Fix were an alternative, it would be a covered action?

Executive Officer Jessica Pearson said that by definition in the Delta Reform Act, the Water Fix is a covered action.  “The law has a five part test for what is or is not a covered action; there are also some exemptions.  BDCP had one of those exemptions, but any other conveyance project going forward such as Water Fix or if Water Fix doesn’t go forward, any other future conveyance project would meet those five part tests.”

Ms. Enos-Nobriga presented a graphic intended to clarify the roles of the Council and project proponents.  “This figure shows that the role of the Stewardship Council through the Delta Plan is to promote options for infrastructure, to ensure use of best available science and adaptive management, and to provide openness and consistency,” she said.  “It’s not the Stewardship Council’s role, but rather the role of project proponents to analyze alternatives and select preferred projects, to provide funding, to secure necessary permits, and to determine consistency for covered actions.  There is overlap between the Delta Stewardship Council and project proponents through our consistency determination process and through CEQA.

The Delta faces many challenges today and they are likely to be magnified with climate change, said Ms. Enos-Nobriga.  “The bottom line is the Delta is in crisis.  Despite changes in water system operations and management, ecosystem health has continued to decline in the Delta.  The status quo is not adequate to meet the coequal goals.  So the proposed amendment includes recommendations for new and improved water conveyance, recommendations for new and expanded storage, and recommendations for the operation of both.  This amendment describes the types and the characteristics of infrastructure that could contribute to the coequal goals and also identifies the recommended criteria that project proponents can use in evaluating and developing new conveyance and storage projects.”

Ms. Enos-Nobriga then addressed some of the questions and comments they’ve heard regarding the proposed amendment.  “First, we’ve been asked, how much storage is being promoted and what size conveyance?  The amendment does not promote specific engineering designs.  The Delta Plan is a comprehensive management plan for the Delta; it is not a project plan.  So it is the project proponent’s role to analyze alternatives and evaluate engineering designs that will achieve the project goals.

The next question we’ve received is, is the amendment promoting Water Fix?  No, the amendment promotes a package of conveyance and storage operations with operational improvements.  We recognize there is no single solution or means by which the coequal goals can be achieved; rather, a combination of multiple projects throughout the state are needed.  The draft amendment is not promoting Water Fix or any specific project.  However, one of the conveyance options promoted is dual conveyance of CVP and SWP water supplies.”

Ms. Enos-Nobriga noted that one of the issues with having the amendment language separated from the Delta Plan is that it’s not connected to the definitions that are in the Delta Plan.  She presented a list of conveyance definitions, noting that the definition of dual conveyance is ‘combining through-Delta conveyance and isolated conveyance to allow operational flexibility.’  “I just want to note that the term dual refers to combination of conveyance mechanisms, not the number of conveyance structures, so the isolated conveyance could have one pipeline or it could have many, depending on the specific engineering design as determined by the project proponent,” she said.

Ms. Enos-Nobriga then explained why the amendment is promoting dual conveyance, rather than promoting improvements to the existing system.  “Although physical improvements to through-Delta conveyance can complement isolated conveyance by providing additional fish protection measures, sole reliance on improved through-Delta conveyance is unlikely to result in achievement of the coequal goals,” she said.  She presented a slide with a quote from Dr. Jay Lund, chair of the Delta Independent Science Board: ‘Conveyance limitations in the Delta are a major impediment to the state’s ability to achieve its coequal management goals of reducing reliance on the Delta as a water supply source and conserving habitat and species in the Delta, and the ability to make full utilization of surface water and groundwater storage capacity.’

Essentially the improvements to through-Delta conveyance alone are insufficient to provide protection for native fish and to mitigate current water operation conflicts with listed species, so we need to do more,” she said.  “Through-Delta conveyance alone cannot achieve the coequal goals.”

A combination of isolated conveyance and improved through-Delta conveyance would have a number of benefits, she said.  “Benefits related to reduced fish entrainment losses, operational flexibility related to limiting reverse flow conditions and fish entrainment, to create more variable flow patterns, support Delta water quality management, address climate change and future uncertainty, and adaptively manage the system to achieve the coequal goals.  Also, improve resilience to natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, and prolonged droughts.”

Ms. Enos-Nobriga acknowledged that many concerns have been raised related to dual conveyance, concerns related to the effects of water quality as well as concerns related to impacts to communities, agriculture, and recreation.

That is why the amendment promotes a package of conveyance and storage options in addition to the existing Delta Plan regulatory policies and recommendations,” she said.  “These concerns can be addressed through a combination of storage and conveyance.  These are in addition to the existing regulatory policies and recommendations in the Delta Plan.  Additional surface water and groundwater storage capacity can add flexibility to provide water for a variety of beneficial uses under a range of conditions, such as additional flow augmentation, water temperature management, water supply reliability, and flood management.  Storage can provide benefits both for today and into the future to increase resiliency to climate change and sea level rise.  Thus the amendment is promoting an integrated approach that includes storage, both above and below ground, and integrated operations for both.”

In addition, we are recommending that integration of storage and conveyance operations should occur at state, regional, and local levels, and that all projects should incorporate adaptive management based on best available science,” she said.

Chair Fiorini said that there is no silver bullet.  “Additional storage by itself or additional conveyance improvements by themselves are not likely to lead to the operational flexibility that best available science tells us the Delta and the greater water system needs.”

Ms. Enos-Nobriga pointed out that all of the concepts in the amendment are supported by best available science and that over 80 references have been added to the amendment in Attachment D.  She presented a slide with several quotes.  “The point that we’re trying to make is there is a lot of science to back up what is in our amendment,” she said.

Chair Fiorini noted that one of the enhancements to the draft has been the scientific citations.  Executive Officer Jessica Pearson noted that the amendment will be submitted to the Independent Science Board for their review and additional comments, questions, or suggestions.

WHAT HAS CHANGED IN THE AMENDMENT

Kari Shively, principal engineer for MWH/Stantec and consultant to the Council for this amendment process then walked through the changes in the amendment, noting that they have received a lot of comments via other meetings and in emails and in comment letters.

Today’s discussion draft responds to the comments that we heard in six public meetings,” she said, noting that those include three public workshops held in Tracy, Sacramento, and Diamond Bar; comments at the February and March Council meetings, and at the scoping meeting on March 24th in Sacramento.  They have also received and are still receiving numerous comment letters and emails from organizations, agencies, and individuals, so there still are other comments that they are still receiving that are not reflected in the draft they are reviewing today.

We heard suggestions from several Council members to make the amendment more of a standalone document to incorporate more background and context for the amendment and the history that has led up to it,” she said.  “This included some suggestions to add more historical background and more well-rounded narrative of the issues and the options that are being promoted.  So as a result, we’ve made a lot of changes to the introduction and problem statements, and these changes will eventually flow into revisions to Chapter 3 of the Delta Plan.”

Several councilmembers also expressed that the tone of the amendment was not balanced and we needed to achieve, slant it a little more towards water supply reliability versus ecosystem and so we’ve made many changes throughout the document, both in the introduction and problems statements, as well as to the recommendations themselves to achieve this better balance,” she said.  “We heard comments that the recommended options should have a stronger connection back to the issues that they are trying to address.  The format of the Delta Plan presents problems and then recommendations for addressing those problems.  We did separate those out in this document, and that’s why the upfront portion that has the introduction and the problem statements is very long; it is then followed by the recommendations themselves.  But we did make some organizational changes to be able to better tie the problems that we’re trying to address to solutions and opportunities that we’re presenting in the amendment.”

Councilmembers suggested that the draft amendment should improve its description on how the options were evaluated and selected for promotion, so we’ve made revisions to the problem statement to tie them more directly to those characteristics that we’ve presented in the recommendations for new conveyance, storage, and operations, and we heard that we should be relying more on the substantial time and effort and work that has been done over the last two decades in particular, on the development analysis for options for conveyance, storage, and operations, so you’ll see a lot more references in the upfront sections of the amendment to that historical background and work that’s already been performed by others.”

They received a number of suggestions related to specific text and language that’s included in the draft that we revised, as well as suggestions for a lot of new recommendations, she said.

Public comments were received at workshops and council meetings, in comment letters, and at the CEQA scoping meeting,” Ms. Shively said.  “We heard suggestions that the amendment should acknowledge the impact of population growth and so we’ve noted that.  A need for data consistency among implementing agencies, lack of water supplies and storage capacity needed to actually make use of any new conveyance improvements, and funding challenges that should be noted and recognized.”

The majority of public comments that we’ve received have focused on the conveyance recommendations in the amendment, and that’s where you’ll see the most changes in the draft,” she continued.  “Those comments addressed things like concerns over potential impacts of conveyance projects on Delta communities, agriculture, recreation, water quality, and other values.  Concerns were also raised over the effects of conveyance on Delta water quality, including both construction as well as long term operations and maintenance activities.  Commenters noted that the amendment focused largely on new conveyance facilities, but that improvements to existing through Delta conveyance and export facilities were also needed, so we’ve reflected that in this revised draft.”

It was also suggested that the benefits and cost conveyance improvements need to be considered and promoted, and there was a desire to examine and evaluate a range of conveyance options, not just one option.  Commenters noted that different regions of the state have access to different local and regional water supply sources and that their opportunities for reducing reliance on the Delta do differ, and that should be recognized in this draft, that some areas may not be able to reduce reliance in all years.”

Some commenters suggested refinement to recommendations related to groundwater, and that we promote groundwater recharge projects, particularly those that can contribute to the goals of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act,” she said.  “Similarly, commenters emphasized the need for integrated management of water and coordinated operations of facilities, both at the state and federal level, as well as the local and regional levels.  So in response to these comments, we have expanded the introduction and problem statements, we’ve made a lot of changes to the recommendations and added a number of new recommendations for your consideration today.”

The Council and staff then spent about the next two hours going line by line through the draft amendment language, discussing many issues, including science the science behind the amendment and construction and other impacts to the community.

PUBLIC COMMENT

At the conclusion of the Council’s discussion, it was time for public comment.  A large number of folks had assembled to address the Council, and even with a time limit of 3 minutes each, public comment lasted over three hours.

The commenters were mostly from the Delta; there were a handful from the Bay Area, and a few representatives of elected officials amongst the commenters.  Virtually all commenters spoke in opposition to the tunnels and therefore by extension, in opposition to the proposed amendment.

Here are some excerpts from the public comment portion of the meeting:

SENATOR CATHLEEN GALGIANI’S STATEMENT, read by a representative of her office:  “For many environmental, agricultural, and structural concerns, coupled with the tunnels project not having a clearly defined finance plan, Senator Galgiani urges the Council to work together to create a comprehensive and consistent approach that takes into account all projects in development, including regional water projects, which have been developed by regional partnerships.  Senator Galgiani believes that a cooperative approach will be a more productive way to move towards the coequal goals rather than spend time and money on conflict and litigation.”

STOCKTON MAYOR MICHAEL TUBB’S STATMENT, read by the representative from Senator Galgiani’s office:  “Stockton has one of the greatest environmental justice populations in California.  According to the American Community Service, Stockton has 20% more living people in economic distress than Fresno, and 45% more than South Central Los Angeles.  In some Stockton zip codes that fall in the secondary zone of the Delta, 52% of the population is living in economic distress with 35% of the population not speaking English as its primary language.  None of the outreach of the proposed Delta Plan amendments, the original Delta Plan, or the Notice of Preparation for the amendments have been conducted in Spanish, or other commonly spoken languages in Stockton.  None of these proposed Delta Plan amendments take into account state mandated environmental justice, human right to water, or anti-discrimination policies, period.  To comply with these policies, the Delta Stewardship Council will need to rethink this Delta Plan amendment process and engage in the extensive outreach with the Delta environmental justice communities.  The Delta Plan amendment on conveyance and storage also needs to take a realistic account of California Water Fix’s disastrous impacts on the Delta economy, environment, and environmental justice communities like Stockton. …  Stockton is being set up to take all of the risk with all the Delta tunnels project which has only been 10% designed.”

BARBARA BARRIGAN-PARILLA, RESTORE THE DELTA:Last month, hundreds of informed Delta residents made comments to this Council expressing their robust opposition to the proposed Delta Plan amendment for conveyance and storage that would make Cal Water Fix tunnels the preferred conveyance alternative.  While the Council’s workshop on drafting this morning considered some community impacts, it still fails to deal with water quality and quantity impacts that will result as a change in the point of diversion.

“This is not a complete surprise for Restore the Delta.  For eleven years, we have engaged in public processes to properly express documented concerns regarding the Delta tunnels because we maintained that if the state followed its own laws, codes, and policies, the tunnels would not move forward.  The Council clearly favors science that is pro-tunnels.  NMFS sent a scathing letter last month that said we will lose the salmon fishery and that fish will do worse with Cal Water Fix.  There will be new reverse flows with the Delta tunnels.  This is tied to science, but it is lost on the staff, the consultants, and council members here today.

This Council, like other state agencies in California, fails to absorb and act on anything that doesn’t support Governor Brown’s pro-tunnels agenda.  That is why for 8 years, we have offered this Council by doing analysis using science-based data and economics, alternatives to the Cal Water Fix plan.  In addition, as mentioned, in the statement read on behalf of Mayor Tubb’s office, Cal Water Fix, the State Water Board’s preparation of the substitute environmental document for the San Joaquin River, and these amendments do not take into account state mandated environmental justice, human right to water, and anti-discrimination policies.  That was part of the 69 page documented letter, a letter that uses science, government code, and economics to critique your amendments.”

The Council fails to hold its consultants and staff accountable for continuing to ignore the court order determining the Delta Plan to be invalid.  Delta Stewardship Council consultants and staff continue in the documents they prepare for you to ignore court ordered writs, including revising the Delta Plan to quote include quanitifed or otherwise measurable targets associated with achieving reduced Delta reliance, before attempting to approve the Water Fix tunnels, and you continue down that path today.  It is reasonable to expect this Council to comply with the court order and the writs.  It is reasonable to expect the DSC to evaluate alternatives, to work on the information provided by science-based NGOs, it is reasonable to expect you to listen to the people of the Delta, and to drop moving forward these Delta Plan amendments for new conveyance, and start protecting the estuary with the same zeal you use to push forward the Delta tunnels.  Thank you.

ROGER, DISCOVERY BAY RESIDENT:  “I submitted and you have a document drafted by me on the dam project that I propose across the Sacramento River. … We’re talking about billions of gallons of water, that’s what your twin tunnels conveyance project is about, so let’s match up the dam project with the twin tunnel projects, because those are the only two solutions that can provide that type of water quantity that’s needed for today, tomorrow, and the future.  If we look at the dam project, the dam project allows us to take billions of gallons of water, several times more than the twin tunnel project, store it up and distribute it.  Also it minimizes the salt water intrusion, and that’s the real problem with the twin tunnels …

BILL MARTIN, SAN FRANCISCO RESIDENT:In my view, the proposed amendments do not adequately address a great number of issues. … Relative to Attachment A, there’s something important missing, and that was the release of Phase 1 supplemental environmental document from the SWRCB.  The SWRCB is now preparing Phase 2.  Phase 2 will focus on the Sacramento River and Delta outflows.  That draft is expected in September.  It is possible that Phase 2 will require increased flows, unimpaired flows, into and through the Delta from the Sacramento River.  This is not idle speculation.  In Phase 1, the water board’s proposal doubles the flows from the Tuolumne, Stanislaus, and Merced Rivers into the San Joaquin and through the Delta for reasons that are apparent from your Delta Plan and your amendments.  The possibility of phase 2 doing something similar is very high.  I don’t believe that that risk is adequately addressed in your amendments.  If nothing else, the amendments need to be edited to focus on the strong possibility that more water will be required by the State Water Resources Control Board and the possibility that any conveyance or other system you develop could be meaningless, considering the flows that may be required for the ecosystem. … “

TARYN RAVAZZINI, DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR SPECIAL INITIATIVES AT DWR:  “First the Department appreciates the work that the Council continues to do in implementing the statewide policy of the coequal goals for the Delta laid out in the Delta Reform Act and reflected in the Delta Plan.  The Department along with the Council and many other state and local agencies are partners in implementing the ten important and comprehensive actions that make up the California Water Action Plan, which includes achieving the coequal goals for the Delta.  In doing so, we are all working on multiple fronts to best manage the challenges impacting our state’s water system and the Delta’s ecosystem.”

“Secondly, we join you in emphasizing that the Delta status quo is unsustainable and will continue to be challenged by changing climate conditions, land subsidence, aging levees, and many other contributing factors.  As part of a comprehensive effort to managing the scientifically defined wicked problems posed by the Delta, the Department agrees that conveyance improvements in the Delta are needed so that as you state in the recent draft, water supplies can be safely moved when they are available and conflicts between water supply deliveries and species protection can be avoided.”

The Department recognizes the role of the Council to promote options for conveyance and storage in accordance with the Delta Reform Act.  And in this case, support your recommendation for a dual conveyance option to address the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta water supply systems in crisis.  We look forward to continuing to work with you and as you fine tune this amendment and move forward to revise the Delta Plan.

JOSEPH RIZZI, INVENTOR:  “I disagree with the fact that there isn’t a silver bullet like I keep hearing over and over again … I have given you the opportunity to actually read how to get it fixed.  There’s actually three bullet points that you need to make sure that you’re actually dealing with.  One is to stop killing the fish.  If you don’t let the fish into the Clifton Court Forebay, they don’t get killed. … This is a one and a half mile levee that you would change into a fish screen.  You would no longer kill any fish than you can export your water.  That’s very clear and understandable.  The other part of that was now, if you have Clifton Court Forebay as a forebay is accepting water, you only accept water into the Clifton Court Forebay at night when the fish are asleep.  You return the Delta flows all day long, so that’s 8 hours that you fill Clifton Court Forebay, and it’s 16 hours you don’t.  And then what happens with the pumps?  You can operate the pumps 24/7.  All day long.  Why? Because Clifton Court Forebay has 2 to 3 days worth of water that you can deal with …  Salinity control.  You keep saying there’s no way of salinity control.  There is.  Where does salinity come from?  The Pacific Ocean.  Benicia has three bridges across the Benicia Straits.  It’s a mile across.  Stop at a quarter mile or a half mile; leave a half mile open for all the fish, all the whales, and anything else wanting to come and go from the Delta region.  All you’re wanting to do is to stop the deepest portion of the straits … “

STEVEN HARRINGER, FIFTH OF SIX GENERATIONS OF DELTA FARMERS:  “We have farmed dozens of different row, field, and tree crops over the decades as markets, economics, and the farming variables of weather dictated, always the vision of sustainability to assure that future generations would have viable land and water resources available.  Our forefathers immigrated from Holland and recognized the quality of the soils, water, and climate, and their foresight has been validated for almost 150 years.  Our vineyards are audited and certified sustainable now, and we are proud of our ongoing efforts to assure that Clarksburg soils continue to be farmable for centuries to come.  …

“Today, almost 60 years after the completion of the federal and state water projects, and the export of billions of billions of gallons of water annually from the Delta, the giant export pumps remain unscreened to the serious detriment of Delta marine life.  Shameful.  We are now expected to trust the state agencies to fulfill their promises regarding the protections for the Delta.  I think not.  But it’s a new century now, and there are new big ideas to ensure water reliability for our Southern California and Central California Valley residents.  Are we going to trash the north Delta with huge infrastructure projects, millions of cubic yards of tunnel muck, a two decades long construction project that decimates the Delta, produces not one gallon of new water, degrades the water left in the Delta with increased salinity, and offers precious little hope of restoring the faltering ecosystem?

RAE, DISCOVERY BAY RESIDENT:  “390 words.  That’s about the number and the tool I get to try and to reach into your souls to save my home, save the Delta’s precious waterways, and its many wildlife inhabitants.  390 words to combat American corporate greed and political machinations designed to benefit the few at the cost of the many.  I have lived in the Delta for 20 years and in Discovery Bay for 11 of those years.  I raised my 19 year old son there, I built a church in Brentwood to serve the community as a multi-purpose facility and childcare, and I plan to retire in Discovery Bay in a home I managed to save just barely from the financial crisis in 2008. … Tell me how do I, a middle class woman, stand against a class of people who are billionaires willing to influence politicians and potentially destroy an entire ecosystem, just to get more water to make more money?  What makes them so special that they can destroy my small town community, the most fertile farmland in our country, and eventually an entire ecosystem simply so they can make a few more bucks?

ROGER MAMMON, SECRETARY OF RESTORE THE DELTA:  “Today I am before you to say I am confused.  Prior to the construction of the water projects in California, the people of northern California made sure that it was placed in the water code that only water that was surplus to the needs of the Delta would be exported.  What happened to that law?  I’m also confused to how the Council can move forward after Judge Michael Kenney ruled the Delta Plan invalid as it did not include quantified or otherwise measurable targets associated with reducing reliance on the Delta.  I am confused because 80,000-page environmental impact report for the BDCP, which was supposed to be a habitat conservation plan, wouldn’t pass muster by the wildlife agencies and they would not permit it.  The BDCP was scuttled in 2015, and from it was born the California Water Fix.  How is taking a habitat conservation plan out of this system and dual conveyance making things better?

I’m confused that the Delta Stewardship Council doesn’t seem to be concerned about the Delta, and everything associated with it.  I’m confused as to why a comprehensive review and analysis required by the Delta Reform Act hasn’t been completed before making California Water Fix the preferred conveyance option.  I am confused that the Delta Reform Act, 85089, prohibiting initiation, construction, of a new conveyance facility unless exporters have made arrangements to pay all costs, why is such a plan even being considered unless there is a funding plan?  I am confused as to why the Delta Stewardship Council would endorse a dual conveyance plan when the proponents own Water Fix economic analysis in November 2015 indicated it could not be completed without public subsidies.  It bothers me that the analysis was not made public and was only discovered by a Freedom of Information Act.  Were they trying to hide something?

I am confused as to why the Delta Stewardship Council would even consider dual conveyance when the cost benefit analysis by Dr. Jeffrey Michael shows that Water Fix costs are four times greater than the benefits.  … I am confused about the Council’s interpretation of coequal goals.  I cannot find one positive aspect for the Delta.  It appears coequal goals means we get a double shaft and the people in the south get the water.

BOB WRIGHT, FRIENDS OF THE RIVER:Sometimes one person and one statement gets to the heart of the matter.  In Brentwood, one of you, Council member Skip Thomson said, “The Delta Plan should be done as a whole.”  That says it all.  What you’re trying to put up in the front of the things you’re going to be doing is conveyance.  Separating that out from the other parts of the plan.  That’s the last piece of the puzzle.  That’s not the first.  You’ve heard comment, you’ve discussed it.  A couple of you councilmembers have discussed that this is a complicated problem.  You heard in the interchange between your chairman and your lead scientist, Dr. Cliff Dahm.  He answered, “It’s science. There is uncertainty.  There’s conflict.” Given that, you’d want to do the science first.  You’d want to do that work first.

Where is the respect for our branches of government?  I’m talking about the courts and the California legislature.  There is a court order we obtained last summer requiring this Council to revise the Delta Plan to include quantified or otherwise measurable targets associated with achieving reduced reliance on the Delta, and restoring more natural flows.  We pointed out in our letter that we issued to you on Monday.  Judge Kenney of the Sacramento Superior Court read the Delta Reform Act, those provisions come right out of the Act.  You filed an appeal.  What you should be doing is complying with the judge’s order and doing the things he told you to do before you start saying, ‘we want dual conveyance; through Delta conveyance won’t work.’

Or I guess you could await the outcome of the appeal.  But this rushing forward like you’re doing now, pulling conveyance out of everything else and dealing with what should be dealt with last, first.  That’s going right in the face of our courts and our California legislature.  We’ve asked you to stop, we’ve asked you to not go forward with conveyance at this time, and instead do the work first.”

The California Environmental Quality Act guidelines talk about substantial evidence.  You’re supposed to rely on that, not argument, speculation, or opinion.  Here’s what you say in the clean draft of your amendment at page 12, lines 3 though 6:  ‘Although physical improvements to the through-Delta conveyance can compliment an isolated conveyance by providing additional fish protection measures, sole reliance on improved through Delta conveyance is unlikely to result in achievement of the coequal goals.’  That is not substantial evidence; that is not science, all that is is argument, speculation and opinion. You just need to step back and do the work first.”

We’ve heard a lot of talk from the staff and several councilmembers, we can’t stick with the status quo.  The status quo cannot continue.  The status quo.  Let’s look at that.  Yeah, it’s time to look at reducing exports to increase freshwater flows through the Delta.  That’s what the 9th Circuit said the Bureau of Reclamation had to do in its order handed down last summer.  The EPA and State Water Resources Control Board and their document have talked about the Delta needs more through freshwater flows.  This would do the exact opposite.”

For some people, some consultants and contractors, there’s a ton of money to be made here if these tunnels are done.  For these people, this isn’t that.  This is not a game.  This is their lives, their homes, their businesses, and their farms, and that deserves you taking more time, setting aside this plan amendment on conveyance, and having the hard work done first before you make a decision between either dual conveyance or sticking with through-Delta conveyance.”

JAN McCLEARY, PRESIDENT OF SAVE THE CALIFORNIA DELTA ALLIANCE AND A CITIZEN OF DISCOVERY BAY:  “When the Council came to Brentwood last month, the South Delta citizens turned out in mass to make it clear that the Delta tunnels will devastate the community, both the 11 year construction project ripping up and destroying scenic waterways, the boating would be totally blocked, plus the aftermath of the not fresh but brackish and polluted water that would be in our bays, behind our homes, through the waterways.  You heard poignant stories, descriptions of what are near and dear to our hearts that will be taken away, and you’ve heard our grave concerns about our economy and our home values.  And also that we requested meetings be in our area at times people can attend, and at least bigger conference rooms.  Yet, the very next day at your meeting in Sacramento, the Council forged ahead as if no one showed up.  So here we are again, concerned citizens.

Now it sounded today like some on the Council are listening.  I like the wording on a lot of the changes that were being put in the amendment.  But if you were truly protecting the Delta, the Water Fix project needs to be abandoned in total.  It does not meet the document that you had talked about, protecting the communities.  It’s 180 degrees off.  So it’s hard for me to understand how you are continuing on on this path to approve conveyance.  You say conveyance doesn’t mean the Delta tunnels or the Water Fix, but it’s the only thing out there that anyone is looking at, so to me, I think that you’re really saying the Delta tunnels.

The opening remarks from the Brentwood meeting said, ‘the current system of exporting water is clearly not working, and that the Water Fix is needed to fix it.’  That was the statement.  The situation reminds me of a father whose teenage son asks if he can borrow the car.  The teenager roars on the freeway, red lining the car over and over, and then bang the engine is blown.  The Delta is like that; there’s a maximum amount of water that can be removed from the system before it breaks, and the prior speaker alluded to that, the chart clearly shows, if you look at the yearly average trends of water exports, they’ve been going up and up and up.  And the chart below that shows the effect on salmon and a couple of years after it hit the 5 MAF limit, the salmon started to decline.  In summary, I’ll just say, I’d take anyone out on a boat.  If you want to come see what’s in the south Delta … “

MIKE McCLEARY, DISCOVERY BAY:  “We have seen a lot of things incorporated into the plan that are appreciated.  There are still a lot of generic things that concern me.  For example, page 20 line 11 uses the word ‘impacts on terrestrial species’.  I can’t tell whether that includes homosapiens or not.  So it would be appreciated if that included things like impacts on recreation, impacts on property values, and that they will be mitigated.  Secondly, the earthquake risk is mentioned in the plan.  I believe that’s a total red herring.  There has never been a levee failure in the history of our levees, the 1906 earthquake or whatever, and that earthquake risk was used in the BDCP to financially justify building the twin tunnels.  That risk, if you looked over the 50 year life, had a massive levee system failure.  And that just ain’t going to happen. … “

ROBERT ACKERLY, DISCOVERY BAY:  “This is my second visit with the Council.  I came here today with the understanding that you aren’t promoting any specific solutions; at least that’s what I heard this morning, and everything though that I hear in your presentations and discussions today tell me that a decision within the Council has already been made to support the tunnels, so I don’t think you are being very objective in terms of any other possibilities, unless you just haven’t reached out far enough to see what else is out there.  I haven’t heard anything about desalination plants.  At a billion a piece, we could build 65 of them for the amount this debacle is going to produce … “

“It caused me to think about this unit, Delta Stewardship Council, and what does Stewardship mean? What does a word actually represent?  Stewardship on the internet and other sources like Rand McNally, is now generally recognized as the assignment of responsibility to shepherd and safeguard the valuables of others.  …  Be honest with yourselves when you look at that and try to determine whether in fact you’re doing the right thing here … ”

DAN BACHER, EDITOR OF FISH SNIFFER MAGAZINE:  “… The Delta tunnels plan as proposed is the most environmentally destructive and environmentally unjust project in California history.  A joint letter by Restore the Delta and the Environmental Coalition Justice for Water point out that the terms environmental justice and human right to water and anti-discrimination can’t even be found in the reviewed Delta Stewardship Council documents.  I’ve looked over the recent ones, and I couldn’t find them in there.  I may be wrong, but I still can’t’ find any reference to environmental justice anti-discrimination or human right to water, which seems to be in violation of a number of laws, including the human right to water law that passed through the legislature and was signed by Governor Brown several years ago.  As Caileen Sisk, the chief and spiritual leader of the Winnemum Wintu tribe said at the March for Science march and rally in Sacramento on April 22, the California Water Fix is the biggest water problem that California has ever faced. …   I would like to ask the members of the Delta Stewardship Council if they can give me one single example in US or World History where diverting more water out of any river or estuary has resulted in the restoration of that river or estuary. … “

MICHAEL BORODSKY, DISCOVERY BAY:  “I’d like you to understand there’s a lot of frustration, and the frustration comes from the fact that the Delta Stewardship Council was created in large measure to address one problem, which is the way we export water from the Delta, harms the Delta, and makes our water system unreliable.  You’re charge is to address that problem, and that’s something since 2009-2010, you’ve refused to do.  You’ve refused to take any position on improvements to conveyance, you insisted that you would stand aside with whatever the BDCP came up with would be good enough for you, you lost a lawsuit on your claim that you were allowed to do that, you’ve appealed it, we’ll see how that comes out.  The BDCP then failed, it failed to quality as an HCP, so now you’re rushing to put a policy in place that will allow that failed BDCP to be built.  CWF is the BDCP.  It’s Alternative 4A of the BDCP; when the Record of Decision is issued, it will say we approve Alternative 4A of the BDCP.

“I want to address the impacts of CWF as Delta as a place, on Delta hydrology, and on your process.  As far as the impacts on Delta as a place, I appreciate the comments from Mr. Weinberg and other council members to try and put in place the kind of standard things we have in construction projects, the contractors shouldn’t start work before 7am, things like that, unfortunately that won’t work with CWF.  Having a Delta as a place with incompatible with the construction of CWF as it’s designed.  The placement of the three intakes right in the center of Clarksburg, Locke, and Hood is the worst possible place to put those impacts.  Those construction workers, 7000 construction workers in that area for 10 years, and the fact that the size of those construction sites are three times the size of the towns.  The amount of the construction workers is 5 times the amount of the population of the towns.  Those towns will not survive.”

The same is true for many of our marinas.  I calculate there’s approximately 30,000 barge trips involved.  Taking the precast tunnel segments in, hauling the muck out, hauling equipment in, taking workers out.  That many barge trips over that length of time and the amount of barge unloading facilities they have will make the Delta basically unboatable in many places.  It will be so hard to navigate in so many 5 mph zones that people who trailer their boats in to boat in the Delta, they have a choice to go somewhere else and they will.  And those marinas will die.  They will have to close.”

As far as the process, you’re nowhere near ready to vote on any language for policy.  What you need to do is to clarify for yourself what the problem is, that the way we export water doesn’t work, and then get a set of alternatives in front of you to solve that problem, and then choose the best alternatives.  Those alternatives need to include a suite of solutions that do not include the tunnels.  …  That’s been a problem with solving the issues in the Delta is you try to please everybody and get everybody on board, you basically have 0 influence.  So I want to encourage those council members who have doubts and have asked for more science, to ask for a set of alternatives, one or more of which do not include new diversion facilities in the North Delta.”

“ … I promise you, I will submit to you an alternative that addresses reverse flows in Old and Middle River, addresses water system reliability, and does not involve new points of diversion and does a better job than what you have here, and I ask that you take a look at that.  That you have the Delta Independent Science Board look at it, and if they say, I’m blowing smoke, my figures about almonds are wrong, then I’ll be proven wrong, but I don’t think I will.

MOLLY HOOPER, PROTECT OUR WATERS:  “I am here representing a group of San Franciscans known as Protect Our Waters that is concerned about the impact of building huge Delta tunnels on San Francisco Bay.  … Why should we worry about the effects of the tunnels on the Bay?  According the NRDC biologist Tina Swanson, fresh water inflows from the two river systems that drain into the Delta have already been reduced by more than 60% as water was diverted to central and southern California.  The impact of diversions to the state and federal water projects have decimated many of the bay’s most common species by 66-98%.  Clearly, we’re flirting with species extinction.  And ultimately threatening to turn the Bay into a fetid backwater, endangering our Golden Goose, the health of San Francisco Bay and its environs.  …

The Bay is a key part of the Delta estuary system, and whatever occurs will affect us.  With that concern in mind, I believe impacts in San Francisco Bay, should the twin tunnels be built, have never seriously been studied by the state.  In the more than 45,000 pages of the state’s environmental impact report, there are no more than three that address San Francisco Bay.  This is a gross oversight and could have serious consequences.  With less freshwater flows, salt water intrusion in the estuary and the Delta will have significant impacts, especially with sea level rise.  Since the best cool freshwater would be exported south through the tunnels, lesser quality water carrying concentrations of pollutants and pesticides will flow into the Bay.  Already, poisonous algae blooms that can kill dogs and people were evident last summer at Discovery Bay in the Delta. … “

ROGENE REYNOLDS, SOUTH DELTA RESIDENT:  “The list of events that’s pretty well articulated in this report includes decision 1641.  That decision had safeguards for the Delta in a drought.  They were there.  The standards were there, and they were all violated in the recent drought.  We have no level of trust in the Delta now for the governments that are supposed to protect us, so you cannot be surprised at sort of the lecturing that people have done today.  I’m going to close with an idea for your addendum.  You want to simplify your problems.  On page 19, under B-1, evaluate design, implement new or improved conveyance, I would suggest that you lead off that any new or improved or operated conveyance facility whether in Delta or isolated, shall not result in any increased salinity anywhere in the Delta.”

ELIZABETH, CLARKSBURG, READING COMMENTS BY NICOLE SEWARD OF SNUG HARBOR RESORTS AND ON BEHALF OF NORTH DELTA CARES:  “This comment is written in opposition to currently proposed Delta Plan amendment.  It appears the 19 principles do not recognize senior water rights.  If you eliminate senior water rights, then you are eliminating one of the primary values associated with most lands in the Delta, thereby reducing land values and committing government eminent domain without just compensation.  What happened to the promise that the areas of California where the water originates shall not be deprived of the prior right to all water reasonably required to meet the needs of the watershed, per water code section 11460.  It also appears the 19 principles do not function to protect the Delta as a place, including the prime farmlands, the recreation, the environment, or the legacy towns.”

Are you Delta Stewardship Council acting as a wise steward of the Delta when you promote any action that would drain the flows from the Sacramento and San Joaquin River watersheds away from the Delta?  … For at least 12 years, too much water has been diverted from the Sacramento River watershed before it reaches the Delta.  Neither DWR nor USBR have disclosed to the public actual amounts diverted to achieve deliveries to other areas of the state.  Stand firm and vote as Delta steward and demand full disclosure of diversions, demand the Water Board first determine and validate necessary flow levels to protect the Delta and all senior water rights.

Finally, how do each of the 19 principles one by one work to achieve the coequal goals?  What happens to Delta recreation when outflows are so low it impacts fishing, boating, and drinking water quality?  How is economic stability of the legacy towns and the whole legal Delta area protected if low freshwater flows result in salt water intrusion, which eliminates use of the degraded prime farmlands of the Delta or do the principles work to simply promote excessive fresh water diversions from the Sacramento and San Joaquin River watersheds?  Are you a Delta steward or a water contractor steward?

ROGER, WEST SACRAMENTO: “The peripheral canal was voted down by the voters of California.  The twin tunnels are the peripheral canal with dirt on them.  Are we so stupid we can’t figure that out?  So why has the state not voted again, if we’re going to do something like this.  The first time, it took a vote of the people.  Since the people voted but they didn’t vote the way your handlers would like them to, we’re now going to have no vote of the people, we’re going to just shove the tunnels down everybody’s throat.  You’ve heard from the community, you’ve heard from everybody that has lived in the Delta, that does business in the Delta now, that the Delta is being degraded and that the tunnels are not the solution.  They are not the solution for all the reasons you’ve heard today. … You know what the people pushing this are going to bring with it.  They are just waiting for your recommendation to say, now we’ve got the Delta Stewardship on board, too.  Well you shouldn’t get on board; this is a bad train for all the reasons you’ve heard, so please, do not recommend the twin tunnels.”

LAUREN, READING STATEMENT FROM ASSEMBLYMAN JIM FRAZIER:  “As a representative of the California State Assembly Delta district and co-chair of the California Delta Legislative Delta Caucus, I write today to once again voice my opposition to the proposed conveyance, storage, and operation amendments to the Delta Plan deliberated by the Delta Stewardship Council.  …  Any proposed change of Delta flow must reduce the state’s reliance on Delta water to preserve our ecosystem and water quality, which indisputably benefits habitat for our fish, birds, and other wildlife, as well as sustains local agricultural, commercial, boating, and recreational industries and my constituents way of life.  The Delta Stewardship Council has the mandated responsibility to uphold an implement the coequal goals of providing a more reliable water supply for California and protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem.  However, the proposed changes to this water conveyance storage and operations amendment appear to endorse approval of the only major water conveyance project being discussed today, California Water Fix.  Representing thousands of community members living in the path of Water Fix’s conveyance, I implore you to understand the great harm the people who work, travel, and reside amongst the anticipated construction sites will face, should the Council proceed to approve these amendments, facilitating construction of the Water Fix tunnels. … “

BARBARA DALY, DELTA RESIDENT AND CO-CHAIR OF NORTH DELTA CARES:  “I’ve been going to meetings like this since 2009.  I’ve gone to hundreds of meetings and been involved in various aspects of what’s going on here with our Delta.  I live in Clarksburg, and the intake #2 is right across from my home, so my well water will be affected, I won’t be able to breathe the air probably for ten years, I won’t be able to stand the noise from the pile driving, not only me, but also my neighbors, and the people around me, across from me … We’re all going to be deeply affected, and this just keeps moving forward and forward and forward.  We’ve talked and we’ve talked and we’ve tried to give you our perspective and ask for your understanding that other alternatives be considered. … “

NEXT STEPS FOR THE AMENDMENT

After public comment had finished, staff then discussed the next steps for the proposed amendment.  The staff’s intent is to take all the comments heard from the Council and the public at the meeting, summarize those, come back with a draft next month that incorporates responses to the comments.

At this point, with the meeting having gone on for nearly six hours without a break for lunch, the Council members were clearly worn out, and most weren’t interested in trying to discuss the amendment further.  Council member Patrick Johnston suggested they review the changes at the May meeting, but not plan on voting on the amendment at that time.  Council member Skip Thomson agreed.

Judge Damrell said that if there are suggested revisions from the public that staff does not agree, they should explain why not.  “I want to make sure that staff responds to those questions that were raised by the public.  If they don’t agree or they feel it is inconsistent with our legislative obligations, fine, but I want to know why.”

AND IN CLOSING …

As the meeting was winding down, Councilmember Ken Weinberg said he was very disappointed that the State Water Contractors, the Farm Bureau, Western Growers, those people were not here, and did not provide input.  “I guess I’ll do it for them.  We heard a lot about social justice and the issues affecting people in the Delta; I want to point out that social justice issues in the San Joaquin Valley are important, and I would venture that the highest number of disadvantaged communities in the state of California are in the San Joaquin Valley so I don’t want to make, the argument is versus the 1%ers because it’s not.  Economic activity is directly linked to water supply reliability.”

The speakers today, that’s not their main concern, but I think we need to remind people that coequal goals include water supply reliability,” Mr. Weinberg continued.  “There’s not that many pools in Southern California.  We’ve invested tens of billions of dollars in recycled water, desalination, we’ve been working on conservation, and I’ll venture a lot more and a lot more successfully than a lot of communities in Northern California, so we need to recognize that.  We’re doing more, but we also need to recognize that we are trying to balance.  …  Our role is to do what’s best for the state of California.  The contractors, these are their constituents, they need to be heard and it’s disappointing that they aren’t here.”

Council member Skip Thomson then added, “I’ve dealt with staff for a short time, but the interaction I have had is that the staff is very professional; they are trying to do the right thing, but sometimes we need to step back and say maybe I need to tell the boss this isn’t the right way to go.  … I know that there were some very harsh words spoken about the Council, and I think I can speak not only for myself but some of my colleagues who may be seen as less protective of the Delta, I think to a person, everyone is trying to do the right thing.  You obviously disagree with what some of us up here say.  I’m going to disagree with some of my colleagues, but not because I don’t believe they are being honest and trying to do the right thing.  It is that they just see it a little differently, and I think my role is to try to convince my colleagues why we need to look more broadly at options … Those are my thoughts.  I look forward to next month.”

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