In case you missed it: Bloomberg, “Save California Farmers From Themselves.”


Save California Farmers From Themselves

APR 27, 2015 9:00 AM EDT
By Daniel P. Beard

You would hope the worsening drought in California would bring out the best in the state’s politicians, particularly those who profess to care about the waste of taxpayers' money.

Alas, this isn’t the case when it comes to several important members of California's congressional delegation. Take Kevin McCarthy, the House majority leader, who is using the dire conditions to call for projects to channel water to a select number of politically well-connected farmers.

"I'm from the Central Valley," the Republican congressman said, "and we know that we cannot conserve or ration our way out of this drought." 

In fact, we don't know this because California hasn't seriously tried it. Agribusiness has traditionally used dry periods to demand more diversions of water from the state’s already heavily tapped mountain rivers. These proposals include two reservoirs McCarthy and other California politicians want: The Temperance Flat Dam on the San Joaquin River and the Sites Reservoir on the Sacramento River would cost approximately $3 billion each. But neither project would supply a drop of water for 20 to 25 years. It will take at least that long to plan, approve and construct the reservoirs, and in the end it's possible there won’t be enough water to fill them.

The growers and their political allies respond that if California's drought is punishing them now, the shortfall could be worse in 20 years, meaning state and federal taxpayers should ante up now before it's too late.  

To understand why this is a terrible deal, look at the financial arrangements and recall the saying in the West: "Water flows uphill, toward money."

Continue reading article here. 



Are you coming to our NO TUNNELS meeting? We will start promptly at 6PM – 8PM at the Ambler's Club in Stockton. RSVP BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE. 

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director, Restore the Delta
Osha Meserve,  Attorney, Local Agencies of the North Delta (LAND)
Tom Keeling, Attorney, Freeman, D’Aiuto, Pierce, Gurev, Keeling & Wolf
Bill Jennings, Executive Director, California Sportsfishing Protection Alliance  (CSPA)
Tim Stroshane, Policy Analyst, Restore the Delta



Newspaper Editorials Opposed to Tunnels:

San Francisco ChronicleSan Jose Mercury NewsSacramento BeeModesto Bee

San Francisco Chronicle: The end of the delta tunnels plan? We should hope so


    EXCERPT: California can no longer afford to dodge the expensive and politically difficult choices about how we use water. We can’t look to magic bullets like tunnels to solve problems. Cities will have to commit to reducing water use, as Mayor Eric Garcetti did earlier this month when he released his plan to reduce Los Angeles’ reliance on imported water by half over the next 20 years. The landscape will change as fields are fallowed.
    The governor has it half-right with his decision to invest in environmental restoration. Now he just needs to deep-six those tunnels.

San Jose Mercury News: Jerry Brown needs new water strategy — no tunnels


    EXCERPT: California needs Gov. Jerry Brown’s leadership to deal with the worst drought in state history.
    The state has to reset its water priorities to match both current and worst-case long-term needs. But Brown can’t make that happen as long as he clings to his $25 billion, twin-tunnel proposal to carry Delta water south.
    The Bay Delta Conservation Plan has deeply divided crucial players in high-stakes water politics, many of whom view it as another Northern California/Southern California water war. And now that the Brown administration is poised to remove the “Conservation” part — the 50-year guarantee to restore Delta wetlands and habitat to keep the estuary healthy — all that’s left is the massive tunnel project. It is dead in the murky, barely habitable water.
    So this is an opportunity. The drought not only justifies but requires a shift of strategy based on the deepening emergency. Other BDCP supporters, including the Santa Clara Valley Water District, should urge him in that direction. Let’s not spend more money on a losing proposition.”

    Sacramento Bee: Brown shouldn’t leave eco goals out of new Delta plan


      EXCERPT: As Gov. Jerry Brown tries to salvage the $25 billion project to build twin tunnels through the Delta, he should keep in mind that it won’t be acceptable to give up its environmental goals.
      His new tack is understandable; federal agencies have signaled that they probably won’t issue the 50-year environmental permits that were a key element of the old plan. But if he wants to persuade the public that his approach won’t degenerate into a water grab for Southern California and the Central Valley, he has to show resolve.

    Modesto Bee: Our View: Now we see real goal of Delta plan


      EXCERPT: We’re left asking the same question we’ve been asking since the plan was first proposed: How do you save a water-dependent environment like the Delta by removing its largest water source? The only way is to replace that missing water with water from somewhere else. That’s where we come in.
      The state wants us to believe it is just a happy coincidence that its plan to save the salmon on the Merced, Tuolumne and Stanislaus rivers – which reach the Delta through the San Joaquin River – coincides with its plans to have most of the much-larger Sacramento River bypass the Delta. Right.
      Predicting river conditions 50 years from now is impossible. The only prediction we feel safe in making is this: If the state’s plan proceeds, a lot less water will stay in our Valley.
      If the governor truly wants to save the Delta, he should prioritize that portion of the plan and drop the part about “more reliable” water deliveries until he knows how much water will be required to save the Delta. Otherwise, this looks like what we’ve always thought it was.


GOV. BROWN IS BREAKING HIS PROP. 1 PROMISE, Announces he WILL Use Prop. 1 Funds to Mitigate Tunnels

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Contact: Steve Hopcraft 916/457-5546; [email protected]; Twitter: @shopcraft;
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla 209/479-2053 [email protected]; Twitter: @RestoretheDelta

Announces he WILL Use Prop. 1 Funds to Mitigate Tunnels
Stockton, CA – Governor Brown promised the people of California that Proposition 1 (Water Bond) funds would not be used for the BDCP, but for dealing with the drought. Now, his administration admits that they could use money from Proposition 1 to pay for habitat mitigation for construction and operation of the tunnels.

“It is outrageous that the governor would break the promise he made to the people of California that their taxes would not be used to mitigate damage from the tunnels. Now he is signaling that bond monies will support mega-growers like Stewart Resnick, who plans to expand almond production by 50% over the next five years,” said RTD Executive Director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla.

“It's time for Governor Brown to drop the 19th century tunnels plan, and embrace water technologies that will serve the world we live in now, and our children will live in in the future.”
Here is a link to the San Francisco Chronicle story including this startling admission: “[Brown Administration BDCP spokesman Richard Stapler] acknowledged that the money could conceivably come from Proposition 1, the $7.5 billion water bond that California passed last year.”
“The science has demonstrated that habitat without water for fisheries fails in the Delta. The tunnels project cannot restore the Delta because it takes the necessary water out of the Delta,” said Barrigan-Parrilla.

“California experiences dry or drought conditions 40% of the time historically, even before climate change.  That means that in at least four out of ten years exporters will have astronomical fixed costs to pay for no water.”


Program for our #NoTunnels meeting! Are you attending?

Dear friends,

It is very important that you make the effort to come see us for our annual anti-tunnels meeting in Stockton.  In the weeks after this meeting, Restore the Delta is going to be limited in how many public appearances we can make due to the reissuing of the BDCP in May and work on related BDCP projects–it's all hands on deck for our staff. We need your involvement and awareness very much during this busy time– please make an RSVP to [email protected] today. 

Please make the effort: come see us on 4/30 and get your updates on the harm from Gov. Brown's proposed tunnels! 

WHAT: Restore the Delta General Membership Meeting 
NEXT WEEK: Thursday, April 30, 2015 6:00-8:00 p.m.
WHERE: Ambler’s Club, 2000 N. Amblers Lane, Stockton 95203.

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director, Restore the Delta
Osha Meserve,  Attorney, Local Agencies of the North Delta (LAND)
Tom Keeling, Attorney, Freeman, D’Aiuto, Pierce, Gurev, Keeling & Wolf
Esther Min, Environmental Justice Coalition for Water
Bill Jennings, Executive Director, California Sportsfishing Protection Alliance  (CSPA)
Tim Stroshane, Policy Analyst, Restore the Delta

Light appetizers, deserts, and refreshments will be provided. RSVP & information: [email protected] or call (209) 475-9550. (RSVP is required.) This meeting is for Restore the Delta members and friends, from coastal fishermen to farmers, to business people, Delta water agency members, and local government representatives.

This event is NOT open to state or federal officials, state and federal water or land management or associated organizations, public relations firms, water agency representatives from outside the Delta, or participants in the BDCP.


Tunnels-Only BDCP: Gov. Abandons Pretext of Saving Fisheries Ignores “Co-Equal Goals” Requirement; End-Runs EPA

For Immediate Release: Monday, April 20, 2015
Contact: Steve Hopcraft 916/457-5546; [email protected]; Twitter: @shopcraft;
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla 209/479-2053 [email protected]; Twitter: @RestoretheDelta

Tunnels-Only BDCP: Gov. Abandons Pretext of Saving Fisheries
Ignores “Co-Equal Goals” Requirement; End-Runs EPA
Water Use: The Top 1% Water-Takers vs. 38 Million Residents

Sacramento, CA- Restore the Delta (RTD) and other opponents of Gov. Brown’s rush to build massive underground water tunnels that would drain the Delta and doom sustainable farms, salmon and other Pacific fisheries, today said in a news teleconference that Gov. Brown’s abandonment of habitat restoration in his BDCP tunnels project “violates the statutory ‘co-equal goals’, end-runs the EPA and other federal scientists who refused to issue permits for the project, and makes the tunnels project a simple water grab for industrial mega-growers,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, RTD executive director. “You cannot have successful habitat or restore fisheries while draining the Delta of its water. The governor has now abandoned that as a co-equal goal of building the tunnels. BDCP is now a naked ‘tunnels-only’ water grab for the unsustainable mega-farms in Westlands and Kern.”

Chelsea Tu, staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said, “The new plan is a giant step backward. If it goes through, this massive project’s boosters will be able to build these tunnels without having to do anything to protect our wildlife and waters — and will neatly sidestep input from the public. This backdoor process will waste more taxpayer money and kill more Delta species like endangered salmon and smelt.”

“As drought becomes the new normal, California cannot afford to continue to lose Delta species that are already on the brink of extinction,” said Tu. “Instead of spending $25 billion to take more water from the Delta to fuel speculative sprawl and export agribusinesses, California should invest money in proven water conservation, efficiency, reuse and recycling strategies for both cities and farms.”

“We must change how the public’s water is used. While urban families are being required to cut water use by 25%, billionaire Stuart Resnick and others continue to plant thousands of acres of new almond trees during the drought. Mr. Resnick uses as much water for his almonds as the amount of water 38 million Californian’s are now required to conserve,” said Barrigan-Parrilla. “While farmers make their own decisions on what to plant, the public is paying the price for poor decisions made by greedy mega-growers, who plant permanent crops where there is no water. That is not sustainable and the tunnels would subsidize unsustainable agriculture.”

Jonas Minton, water policy advisory for the Planning & Conservation League, said, “After wasting $250 million on failed public relations, they have mutated this into something even worse for water users, taxpayers and environment.”

Conner Everts, executive director of the So. Cal. Watershed Alliance, said that the failure of the BDCP to meet our water challenges or conservation goals means we must abandon the tunnels and invest in conservation opportunities.

“Local water solutions are the most cost effective and responsive solution to our water challenges, and that is where we should invest, instead of in tunnels that produce no new water,” said Everts. “Despite passing a large water bond, there is little available funding specifically targeted for conservation: just $250 million out of $7.545 billion from bond measures and $1.1 billion from the Legislature. Conservation funds will have to be allocated locally, and through state and federal resources. That funding should not be diverted for tunnels. There is not money for local infrastructure, and it is well known that trunk and main water lines must be repaired. We are losing 10% of our treated drinking water to leaking pipes. We can’t afford to sink billions into tunnels. Instead, we must invest in conservation, repairing our infrastructure, and becoming drought-proof.”

The tunnels opponents released new information from Public Records Act requests showing that the State of California is circumventing the contracting rules for state projects and violating the statute enacted so the water takers themselves control design, construction and financing of the tunnels.

“Huge water-takers are manipulating the process with the cooperation of the Brown Administration so they can grab front row seats to deliver that water to themselves,” said Barrigan-Parrilla. “Prior to even having draft environmental documents for the public to review, the Californian Department of Water Resources (DWR) is poised to sign a ‘secret’ contract enabling a small, select group of water-takers unprecedented control and access out of the public eye, and circumventing state contracting and competitive bidding processes designed to protect ratepayers and taxpayers.”

The State Water Project contractors are trying to circumvent contracting and competitive bidding procedures to control who is in charge, while using DWR’s imprint of a public project. This secret planning process sets up moving forward with a project that has not been approved or permitted by circumventing codes and laws regarding contracting.

This complex process is designed to take decision-making away from DWR scientists who oppose the project, and the Legislature, and give it to a select group of special interests that want to operate a public water project for their benefit.