Sacramento, April 28 – Delta activists voiced their opposition to the proposed Delta Plan amendments at the Delta Stewardship Council in Sacramento today.
Representatives from Restore the Delta and other Delta groups said the proposed amendments lack basic analytical documentation, like a needs assessment for CA WaterFix, a water supply analysis, and cost-benefits analysis. The proposed amendments, like the Delta Plan, also fail to consider environmental justice, anti-discrimination, and human right to water issues in their planning and scientific documentation.
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla Executive Director for Restore the Delta said, “We are calling on the Delta Stewardship Council to drop the proposed Delta Plan amendment that promotes CA WaterFix as the preferred alternative for new Delta Conveyance. The Council needs to follow the legislative mandate that grants it, its authority, and the recent court order to revise the Delta Plan to include measurable targets to achieve reduced Delta reliance before approving the Delta tunnels.”
The Delta Stewardship Council was formed under the Delta Reform Act of 2009 with the mandate of implementing the co-equal goals of providing a more reliable water supply for California AND protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem. Proposals to “promote” water conveyance (aka the Delta Tunnels) would export more Delta water to large agricultural interests in the Southern San Joaquin Valley and Southern California cities, putting the co-equal goals out of balance.
Delta farmer Russell Van Loben Sels said, “The Delta Stewardship Council is exceeding its legislated mandate by choosing to promote a project, rather than creating a framework to guide projects proposed for the Delta.”
President of the California Striped Bass Association, Captain Jim Cox said, “Delta water exports have compromised the entire delta ecosystem by effecting the lowest species on the food chain. A once-thriving delta system now has adult fish at half the size they were, even just a decade ago. The tunnels plan will increase this effect to the point where no fish local or migratory will be able to exist.”
In addition to creating a host of environmental problems for the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary, disenfranchised communities in San Joaquin County and the other four Delta counties will also suffer the effects of the Delta Tunnels. For example, generations of Filipino-Americans in Stockton have endured decades of neglect brought on by other infrastructure projects, and fear that the Delta Tunnels will bring about more of the same for their community.
Community educator, Nikki Chan, with Stockton’s Little Manila Foundation says:
“Communities are never rebuilt, regardless of the promises made by officials, and the people left behind are the ones who get to deal with negative environmental impacts. In the case of the Delta tunnels, our community members will lose access to fishing areas, marinas, and boating ramps. After construction we learned from the environmental documents that our community members will be left with degraded water quality and contaminated fisheries.”
Activists and co-authors of the joint letter sent to the DSC on April 18 asked the DSC to consider other options for improving surface storage, performance measures, and conveyance—like fixing fish screens at the existing water pumps near Tracy—without increasing environmental degradation to the ailing San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary. To secure these outcomes, RTD and EJWC suggested in their joint letter that the DSC include environmental justice and public health chapters in the Delta Plan’s Environmental Impacts Report.
The groups also request that the DSC pursue a reduced exports alternative to comply with the Delta Plan’s primary goal of reduced reliance on water exports from the ecologically impaired Bay-Delta estuary.