The Delta Stewardship Council (DSC) on Thursday, March 23 will consider a controversial motion to amend the Delta Plan to automatically accept new conveyance (the Delta Tunnels) into their master plan for the Delta, “without proper public vetting,” according to a news release from Restore the Delta (RTD).
The meeting will take place at the Brentwood Community Center, 708 3rd Street, Brentwood, CA 94513. The meeting will begin at 9 a.m. and the public comment session will begin at 10 a.m.
The motion will be agenda item 11. “Delta advocates will attend the DSC meeting to show their opposition to this motion,” said RTD.
Delta advocates will make the following points before the Council:
1. Do not make the Delta Tunnels (dual conveyance) a promoted option or preferred alternative at this time.
2. Do the comprehensive review and analysis required by the Delta Reform Act and a benefit-cost analysis before declaring the Tunnels or anything else to be the promoted option and preferred alternative.
3. There is no need to rush an approval for the Delta Tunnels without Federal permits, and without a financial plan.
4. Think first, Act later.
On March 20, a coalition of ten organizations sent a letter to the Delta Stewardship Council, written by Bob Wright of Friends of the River, outlining their opposition to the motion being considered at the meeting and informing the DSC of their need to comply with Delta Reform Act and California Environmental Quality Act.
Signatories include AquAlliance, California Water Impact Network, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, Environmental Water Caucus, Friends of the River, Planning and Conservation League, Restore the Delta, and Sierra Club California.
The letter concludes: “There is no legitimate basis at this time to make new conveyance, dual conveyance, the Water Fix Tunnels, the promoted option and/or preferred alternative going forward. We have governments of laws not rulers. It is time to comply with the DRA and CEQA by doing the hard work first, before jumping to conclusions. It is time to perform the comprehensive review and analysis, and also benefit-cost analysis before making any decision preliminary or otherwise to promote dual-conveyance or make that the preferred alternative. The DSC Members need to keep open minds that after all is said and done through-Delta conveyance coupled with reducing exports thereby reducing reliance on the Delta, may be the best conveyance alternative. Though we know that is the case, whether we are correct is not the issue now. The issue is simply that the DSC not put the cart before the horse by prematurely favoring dual conveyance.”
The motion is being considered at a time when Delta Tunnels proponents are struggling to justify their enormously expensive and environmentally destructive project. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) recently released a draft biological opinion documenting the harm the tunnels would cause to salmon, steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, other fish and wildlife species, and water quality.
An independent peer review panel found the NMFS findings are backed by “comprehensive analyses, new data, and modeling,” according to a statement from the Golden Gate Salmon Association (GGSA). The panel further found NMFS used the “best available science” and produced evidence of “significant adverse impacts” to species and critical habitat, including unacceptable harm to salmon.
The draft biological opinion is available at http://www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/central_valley/WaterFix/WaterFixPeerReview2BMaterials.html
For the section focusing on the impacts on salmon and other fish species, go to: http://www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/publications/Central_Valley/CAWaterFix/Peer%20Review%202B/section_126.96.36.199_effectsanalysis_partb_operations_upstream.pdf