View Full Version : Delta Flows: Governor Pushes Dangerous Amendments

Dan Bacher
10-16-2007, 03:44 PM
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is pushing amendments to Senator Don Perata's water bond proposal that would authorize the construction of a peripheral canal to divert fresh water from the California Delta to water developers and agribusiness. Schwarzenegger's proposal would also strip the Delta of "Area of Origin" water user rights, opening Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta water to increasing exports.

The Governor's dangerous proposal must be defeated because it would result in the destruction of a Delta already in severe ecological crisis. Four species of Delta pelagic species - delta smelt, longfin smelt, juvenile striped bass and threadfin shad - are in a precipitous decline resulting from increased water exports in recent years. Chinook salmon, steelhead, white sturgeon, green sturgeon, striped bass and other species are also imperiled by increasing water diversions. The last thing that the Delta needs now is more water exports at a time when saving the estuary's ecosystem depends upon reducing, not increasing, water diversions.

Here is Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla's Delta Flows, featuring weekly highlights from the Restore the Delta coalition.


Delta Flows – Weekly Highlights from Restore the Delta for the Week of October 15, 2007

“Why, sir, most schemes of political improvement are very laughable things.”
--Samuel Johnson

The Governor, the Senate President pro Tem, the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors, and Dying Fish in Stockton Waterways

Restore the Delta staff has been monitoring how the two special session water bonds SB2xx (Perata) and SB3xx (Cogdill), which were both defeated in the State Senate last week, will be repackaged and offered up to voters as initiatives in the months to come.

To date, we have heard mostly through the media that Senate President pro Tem, Don Perata, has suggested that specific surface water storage projects could be named and incorporated into his bond proposal. To date, this specific change seems to be all the Senate President pro Tem is willing to alter within his bond proposal.

However, new language, being pushed by Governor Schwarzenegger’s office as amendments to Senator Perata’s bond proposal, echoes what we found to be disturbing in Senator Cogdill’s SB 3xx. (Delta Flows readers will remember that Restore the Delta opposed Senator Cogdill’s bond proposal as it contained language giving authorization for funding the construction of an alternative conveyance system to divert fresh water away from entering the Delta.)

Restore the Delta Board Member, and Planning and Conservation League Water Expert, Mindy McIntyre, recently shared the following information regarding the Governor’s proposed amendments with Restore the Delta staff. (Comments in brackets and italics are information and commentary additions from Restore the Delta.)

-- The area of origin language explicitly excludes the Delta. (Laws pertaining to area of origin protect water user rights within California.) You can guess why the Governor would want to strip the Delta of Area of Origin. In addition, the language states that the area of origin as established in the bill (excluding the Delta) would have to have a two-thirds vote of the legislature to change or repeal. That would be nearly impossible. (In other words, if this language were to slide by voters in a bond initiative it would be nearly impossible to change or alter this language to protect local Delta water users through the legislative process.)

--The proposed language from the Governor’s office states that the Department Water Resources (DWR) has the existing authority to “implement” a conveyance and sustainability solution. Such language would become law and actually give DWR the authority to build the peripheral canal or pipe without legislative oversight. (Again, the Governor is seeking to work around rather than with the Delta Vision Process which he mandated.)

--The Governor strikes out important language in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) section. Essentially, the Governor’s amendments would eliminate the need for the BDCP to comply with California Endangered Species Act. This is important because it implies that BDCP will just be used like the Environmental Water Account and other “restoration” programs. Essentially these programs, rather than restoring the Delta, are used to set a (minimum) baseline level of (water) resources, and if the Delta, (a flexible ecosystem) needs more fresh water, then too bad. (Delta fresh water allocations would be set as static, when current science and water export records indicate that a good part of the Delta’s ecosystem problems have resulted from too much water being pumped out of the Delta in dry years. In addition, we once again see the Governor seeking to bypass working collaboratively with Delta stakeholders and environmental groups.)

Ms. McIntyre added, “The people in the Delta should know that this is what the Governor is pushing. Everyone else is focused on the dams, but this language would setup the final collapse of the Delta.”

Fortunately, Local Government Entities Are Stepping Up To Advocate For The Delta

At last week’s Natural Resources & Water Committee Hearing on the proposed water bonds by Senator Perata (SB2x) and Senator Cogdill (SB3x), San Joaquin County Supervisor Ken Vogel testified to the committee on the Board’s opposition to a peripheral canal or conveyance system, and the harm that it would bring to the Delta and San Joaquin County.

In fact, the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors is one of the first local government entities within the Delta to recognize the threat that is being made to our community and to make such a formal statement in opposition to the peripheral canal. Moreover, the Board of Supervisors proclaimed their support for Tom Zuckerman’s plan for Regional Water Self-Sufficiency – one of the alternative visions for the Delta offered to the Blue Ribbon Task Force heading up the Delta Vision Process – a plan that Restore the Delta agrees would help to lessen water dependency on the Delta by other regions throughout the state.

Restore the Delta applauds the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors for making their position on this critical Delta issue known, and encourages other local government entities throughout the Delta to make similar statements and proclamations regarding their opposition to the peripheral canal/pipe public. We are also encouraging local Delta stakeholders to begin working with local government entities to help bring about the creation of such public statements.

And While We All Talk, The Fish Keep Dying…
While the Restore the Delta campaign advocates primarily to restore and protect fresh water levels passing through the Delta, and maintains that adequate fresh water will do a great deal to help restore the Delta’ ecosystem, we are also concerned about pollutants that also degrade water quality. Restore the Delta affirms that not one industry or group is responsible for the degradation of Delta water quality. But rather, it is a collective problem that we need to solve together through cooperation, dialogue, and positive action with a sense of urgency.

With that said, our friend and supporter, Bill Maxwell, who lives on Smith Canal sent us a disturbing series of pictures last week. After the first rain each autumn, the fish in their part of the Delta die. We have no commentary to add, as these pictures speak to us directly as to what is wrong with the Delta. But, as one child of Restore the
Delta staff asked, “Will there by any fish left?”

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla
Campaign Director
Restore the Delta
Making the Delta fishable, swimmable, drinkable, and farmable by 2010!
Barbara [at] restorethedelta.org
ph: 209-479-2053
PO Box 691088
Stockton, CA 95269

10-18-2007, 11:34 PM
Wow . What's going to happen when we have a drought like we did in the 70's ? Things are going to start getting real ugly.

10-19-2007, 08:57 AM
I know it is expensive but way not get started on a saltwater purification plant. Exporting water just creates more problems >:(