NORTHERN CALIFORNIA – On Thursday several members of Congress from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta region spoke out against the current Bay Delta Conservation Plan and the lack of input afforded their constituents at a press conference in Sacramento.
Gov. Jerry Brown – joined by state water officials, along with business, labor and agricultural leaders in Silicon Valley – released the plan on Wednesday.
State officials said the Bay Delta Conservation Plan – or BDCP – is a proposal to provide long-term restoration and protection of fish and wildlife in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta while creating a more reliable means to supply water to 25 million Californians and over 3 million acres of farmland.
Water from Clear Lake in Lake County reaches the Bay-Delta through Cache Creek and the Yolo Bypass.
The plan is meant to address the continued degradation of the delta’s ecology and potential levee failure due to earthquake or pressure from sea level rise and increasingly violent storms, which officials said would have catastrophic consequences for California’s economy.
“California’s current water supply system is clearly vulnerable to many threats, and the cost of its failure would be enormous,” said California Natural Resources Secretary John Laird. “As public officials, we are duty-bound to address these threats. The BDCP provides the most comprehensive, well-conceived approach to ensuring a reliable water supply to 25 million people and restoring the delta ecosystem.”
However, members of Congress representing the Bay-Delta region said the plan proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown, the U.S. Department of Interior and south-of-the-delta interests would devastate the region and ignores the concerns repeatedly raised by area stakeholders.
Recently, the state of California released a 20,000 page long administrative draft environmental impact report/environmental impact statement for the BDCP.
Chapters one through seven of the plan were released in the last few months and chapters eight through 12, which include the financing mechanism, were released on Wednesday.
Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-5) said the proposed plan is not a workable solution.
“It puts the interests of south-of-Delta water contractors ahead of the Delta’s and north-of-delta’s farmers, fishers and small business owners,” Thompson said. “Livelihoods are at stake. Until we have a plan that is transparent, based on sound science and developed with all stake-holders at the table, then any process that moves us closer to building these tunnels will recklessly risk billions of California tax dollars and thousands of jobs. Let’s take the time to get this right.”
Rep. John Garamendi (CA-3) said California's water system is under enormous stress from a growing population and climate change.
“The proposed peripheral tunnel plan fails to deliver a real solution for this fundamental problem. Without adding a single drop of new water to the state's supply, the tunnels would deliver massive amounts of water from Northern to Southern California, destroying the Sacramento Delta in the process,” Garamendi said.
Garamendi added, “Instead of wreaking havoc on the delta region with a massive, expensive plumbing system, we need a cost-effective, comprehensive water plan. I have outlined a strategy that would add to our water supply through conservation, recycling, storage, and improvements to our levees while respecting water rights and using the best science. It’s time for a midstream correction to the BDCP: let’s bring everyone to the table and develop a plan that meets the needs of all Californians.”
Rep. Doris Matsui (CA-6) said the state of California, in partnership with the federal government, is on the verge of recommending a plan for California’s water future that does nothing to solve California’s water problems and is a disaster for Northern California.
“For more than six years the BDCP has plowed its way ahead led by a very small group of individuals, none of whom represent Northern California,” Matsui said. “Our constituents and stakeholders in the Bay-Delta region have been shut out of the process. To find a long-term solution all of the stakeholders, not just the beneficiaries of the project, must have a seat at the decision-making table. We can and we must do better for California. Unfortunately, the current BDCP falls far short.”
Said Rep. Jerry McNerney (CA-9), “The governor recently released additional information on his deeply-flawed plan for the delta region, which further proves he is intent on forcing this plan forward without any regard for the farmers, families and small business owners who rely upon a healthy delta for their livelihoods, or for the incredible environmental damage that will result. As it stands, the plan will cost billions of dollars, devastate the most valuable water resource we have in California, and ultimately create no new water. There is a better way forward, and it must include the input of the people who stand to lose the most if the delta is destroyed."
Rep. George Miller (CA-11) said Gov. Brown and his administration officials have failed to demonstrate that they are taking into account the real physical and financial harm that can come to Bay-Delta communities if a BDCP plan is pushed through without the proper cost benefit analysis of alternatives, an adequate finance plan, or without acknowledging the best available science – science that has pointed to the real possibility that this plan could overtax our water resources and devastate the Bay-Delta region.
“Without doing so the BDCP is further than ever from a sustainable policy. It is time to seriously reevaluate this plan to ensure it fulfills the co-equal goals that it is mandated to adhere to, and takes into consideration the concerns of the businesses, families and communities that rely on a viable, healthy Bay-Delta region for their livelihoods,” Miller said.
“All of us here understand that water is critical in our state and that there needs to be a Bay Delta solution that does not put south-of-delta water contractors ahead of everyone in or north-of-delta,” said Rep. Ami Bera (CA-7). “It’s vital for our health, our environment, and our wallets that we have a comprehensive, long-term plan for securing water access and storage that’s based on sound science. The livelihoods of our local farmers, anglers, and small business owners are at stake, and the potential risk to jobs and billions of California tax dollars is too big to ignore. Continuing with this plan, without getting input from all stakeholders, and without considering other alternatives is a bad idea for Sacramento County families.”
To read the entire administrative draft Bay Delta Conservation Plan, as well as the consultant draft BDCP environmental impact statement and environmental impact report, visit http://baydeltaconservationplan.com .