Groups Ask Water Board to Dismiss Delta Tunnels Petition

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The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and U.S. Department of Interior yesterday called for a delay in a scheduled hearing on their petition to divert water under the California Water Fix – the second time they have asked that the proceedings be delayed because they aren’t ready to present their case.

Today, representatives of 9 environmental, farming and fishing groups sent a letter to Tam Doduc and Felicia Marcus of the State Water Resources Control Board requesting them to dismiss the petition.

Those signing the letter include Jonas Minton, Planning and Conservation League; Bill Jennings, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance; Colin Bailey, Environmental Justice Coalition for Water; Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta; Conner Everts, Environmental Water Caucus; Osha Meserve, Local Agencies of the North Delta; Tim Stroshane, Restore the Delta; E. Robert Wright, Friends of the River; Carolee Krieger, California Water Impact Network; and Kyle Jones, Sierra Club California.

“Each time the Hearing Officers accommodate the Petitioners delay requests with more time, more Board staff and protestant time and financial resources are taken, and hundreds of people’s schedules are impacted,” the letter states. “We believe there are much better uses of everyone’s time, such as spending the necessary time to update the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan to adequately protect current beneficial uses.”

“Among other deficiencies, the Change Petition: (1) does not adequately describe the changes sought; (2) fails to attempt to demonstrate a reasonable likelihood that the change will not injure any other legal user of water; and (3) fails to describe the extent of impacts to fish and wildlife. As a result of these and other deficiencies, the full nature and extent of injuries to legal users of water and significant adverse impacts to fish and wildlife uses have not been identified and analyzed,” according to the letter.

The group representatives concluded the letter by requesting that the Hearing Officers dismiss the Petition until a “complete petition” is submitted pursuant to Water Code section 1701.2 and Title 23 of the California Code of Regulations section 794, among other requirements.

Governor Jerry Brown’s California Water Fix to Build the Delta Tunnels, a controversial plan to divert Sacramento River water to corporate agribusiness interests, Southern California water agencies, and oil companies conducting fracking and extreme oil extraction methods, is “broken” and in “chaos.”

That’s the assessment of a coalition of fishing, environmental and farming groups, including Restore the Delta, the Planning and Conservation League, the Local Agencies of the North Delta and the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA), as pointed out in a joint news release on March 28. (http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2016/3/29/1507594/-Jerry-Brown-s-Delta-Tunnels-Plan-Is-Collapsing)

Besides the difficulty the petitioners face in obtaining their permit to divert water from the Sacramento River before reaching the Delta under the California Water Fix, the rapidly collapsing Delta Tunnels scheme faces another major hurdle when the terminally flawed “science” of the California Water Fix will face independent review by a scientific panel convened at the request of NOAA Fisheries on April 5-6.

It is very likely that the independent review panel will give a failing grade to the “science” concocted to justify the Delta Tunnels Plan, just like US EPA scientists did last year — and just as every panel of state, federal and independent scientists has done previously. For more information, go to:  http://deltastewardshipcouncil.cmail20.com/t/r-l-eilhktl-ffpjrf-d/

The California Water Fix is based on the untenable concept that diverting more water from the Sacramento River before it reaches the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta will “restore” the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary.

“The California WaterFix cannot be fixed,” summed up Bill Jennings, executive director of California Sportfishing Protection Alliance. “The idea that you can divert millions of acre feet of water under an estuary that is already suffering from lack of flow without grievously harming existing water users, communities and already degraded fisheries and water quality is fundamentally absurd.”

Below is the full letter:

March 29, 2016

Tam Doduc
Felicia Marcus
State Water Resources Control Board P.O. Box 100
Sacramento, CA 95812-0100

[email protected]

Re: Bureau of Reclamation/Department of Water Resources Request for 60-Day Delay of California Waterfix Water Rights Change Petition

Dear Hearing Officers and Board Hearing Staff:

We write to request that the State Water Resources Control Board dismiss the California WaterFix Change Petition. Yesterday, Petitioners requested for the second time that the proceedings be delayed because they are not ready to present their case. In particular, they are not ready to submit a complete application that describes the changes proposed, or to describe potential impacts of the Project on water rights and fish and wildlife impacts.

Water Code sections 1701.1 and 1701.2 and Title 23 of the California Code of Regulations section 794 (among other provisions) describe the contents of a complete change petition. The Hearing Officers previously acknowledged that the Petition was incomplete, but continued with the hearing process with the expectation that the Petition would be subsequently completed, first by March 1st, and then by March 30th. Now Petitioners are unable to meet the current deadline and are again asking for more time. Each time the Hearing Officers accommodate the Petitioners delay requests with more time, more Board staff and protestant time and financial resources are taken, and hundreds of people’s schedules are impacted. We believe there are much better uses of everyone’s time, such as spending the necessary time to update the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan to adequately protect current beneficial uses.

Among other deficiencies, the Change Petition: (1) does not adequately describe the changes sought; (2) fails to attempt to demonstrate a reasonable likelihood that the change will not injure any other legal user of water; and (3) fails to describe the extent of impacts to fish and wildlife. As a result of these and other deficiencies, the full nature and extent of injuries to legal users of water and significant adverse impacts to fish and wildlife uses have not been identified and analyzed.

Thus, we respectfully request that the Hearing Officers dismiss the Petition until a complete petition, is submitted pursuant to Water Code section 1701.2 and Title 23 of the California Code of Regulations section 794, among other requirements.

Sincerely,
Jonas Minton
Planning and Conservation League

Bill Jennings
California Sportfishing Protection Alliance

Colin Bailey
Environmental Justice Coalition for Water

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla
Restore the Delta

Conner Everts
Environmental Water Caucus

Osha Meserve
Local Agencies of the North Delta

Tim Stroshane
Restore the Delta

E. Robert Wright
Friends of the River

Carolee Krieger
California Water Impact Network

Kyle Jones
Sierra Club California