State Senate appoints infrastructure development corporation executive to Delta Stewardship Council

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The Delta Stewardship Council, a strong supporter of Jerry Brown’s controversial Delta Tunnels project, announced the appointment of Maria Mehranian to the Council by the Senate Rules Committee on March 16, 2018.

“I am thrilled to join the Delta Stewardship Council and am looking forward to working with the Council as it pursues the coequal goals of ensuring for a reliable water supply for the state while protecting, restoring and enhancing the precious and unique ecosystem of the Delta,” Mehranian said “I am honored that the Senator de León and the Senate Rules Committee have invested their trust in me to be a steward of the Delta Plan.”

Mehranian is currently the Managing Partner and Chief Financial Officer at Cordoba Corporation, an infrastructure development firm, a possible conflict of interest in light of the fact that the Council promotes one of the biggest and most widely opposed infrastructure development projects in California history, the California WaterFix.

The Cordoba Corporation website ( describes itself as “a California based full-service engineering, construction management and program management firm specializing in transportation, water, energy, education and facilities with offices in Sacramento, San Francisco, Chatsworth, Los Angeles, Santa Ana, and San Diego. Cordoba Corporation is ranked by Engineering News-Record (ENR) as a Top 50 Program Management Firm and a Top 100 Construction Management-for-Fee Firm.”

“Maria is directly responsible for the firm’s strategic financial planning and operations overseeing the company’s statewide financial operations. For 35 years Maria has dedicated her career to building Cordoba Corporation into one of the nation’s top specialty services firms with its staff of engineers, designers, managers, environmental specialists, and construction professionals from all over the world. For her efforts, Maria caught the attention of academic institutions and was featured in a case study by Harvard Business School and Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University,” the website reported.

Mehranian previously served as a gubernatorial appointee on the Los Angeles Water Quality Control Board from 2008 to 2016. Her term end date is February 3, 2022.

Compensation will be $46,913 per year (2018) as provided in Section 11564 of the Government Code.  Members serve one-third time, according to a press release from Senator Kevin de León’s Office.

“The Delta Stewardship Council was created to advance the state’s coequal goals for the Delta – a more reliable statewide water supply and a healthy and protected ecosystem, both achieved in a manner that protects and enhances the unique characteristics of the Delta as an evolving place,” de León said.

To access Senator de León’s press release, click here. More information about the Council members is available here.

On June 22, 2017, the Delta Stewardship Council voted to endorse the Delta Tunnels plan as part of their amendments to the Delta Plan at their meeting in Sacramento. They made the decision, with only one dissenting vote, in spite of a massive turnout and hours of testimony by tunnels opponents, including fishermen, conservationists, environmental justice advocates, family farmers, Delta residents and elected officials. To read my testimony before the Council, go to:

Delta Group calls for abolition of Delta Stewardship Council

On January 22 of this year, Restore the Delta called for the abolition of the Delta Stewardship Council (DSC) in a comment letter directed at the Council’s Draft Program Environmental Impact Report (DPEIR) on the Delta Plan Amendments that would greenlight the Delta Tunnels and other new storage projects around California.

In the letter, Restore the Delta (RTD) disclosed that 65 of 75 impacts listed in the report were “significant and unavoidable,” according to the DSC, which justified such harmful impacts as reflective of the DSC’s inability to control what other state and federal water agencies do.

Tim Stroshane, Policy Analyst for RTD, wrote, “The DSC is a bureaucratic redundancy lacking meaningful authority to benefit either the people of the Delta or of the state of California. The DSC should be abolished and its useful functions, such as the Delta Independent Science Board, relocated to another more appropriate state agency.

“Furthermore, we find that in the Draft Plan EIR for the amendments that:

  • “The Council’s proposed Delta Plan amendments are planning activities, yet they take no account of State of California environmental justice, human right to water, and anti-discrimination policy requirements.
  • “The proposed Delta Plan amendments fail to set measurable standards for reducing reliance on the Delta and for making conservation a way of life in California.
  • “The proposed Delta Plan amendments fail to address in a meaningful way the significant and unavoidable impacts resulting from construction and operation of new conveyance.  Instead, the DSC so to speak passes the administrative buck back to other state agencies.”

To read Restore the Delta’s comment letter, click here.  

For years, fishing groups, environmental groups, Tribal leaders and Delta residents have requested the Delta Stewardship Council to follow Delta Reform Act mandates to reduce reliance on the Delta, invest in existing levees, protect fish, and stop the damage from operation of the fish-killing state and federal water pumping facilities in the South Delta near Tracy.

“Instead, the DSC chose to promote ‘dual conveyance’systems in order to aid the Brown Administration and special interest water districts attempting to push through the Delta Tunnels proposal in the last year of Governor Brown’s term,” according to RTD.

State Water Board evidentiary hearings continue

The State Water Resources Control Board is currently conducting evidentiary hearings on the petition by the California Department of Water Resources and U.S.  Bureau of Reclamation to change the point of diversions for the Delta Tunnels project, in spite of a change in the project by the state and federal governments from the twin tunnels to a two phase project. The board has rejected the pile of recent motions by cities, counties, water agencies, conservation groups, fishing groups and farming organizations to stay the hearing.

The Delta Tunnels opponents not only argued for a stay in the hearings because of a recent change in the project, but as a result of emails disclosed under California Public Records Act (CPRA) requests filed by Patrick Porgans of Porgans and Associates.

On March 5, Sacramento County Judge James P. Arguelles rejected a request by Sacramento County and other Delta Tunnels opponents for a temporary restraining order to block the Water Board hearings after the opponents sued, alleging the permit process had been tainted by illegal exparte communications and secret meetings.

In denying their request, Judge Arguelles said during a court hearing that tunnels opponents “didn’t provide enough evidence to show that he needed to halt the water-rights hearings before the State Water Resources Control Board,” according to the Sacramento Bee. Read more here: