EPA Rejects Flawed Project No Financing Plan, No Water, Won’t Restore Delta Tens of Thousands Comment “No Tunnels”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, August 28, 2014
Contact: Steve Hopcraft 916/457-5546; [email protected]; Twitter: @shopcraft; @MrSandHillCrane; Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla 209/479-2053 [email protected]; Twitter: @RestoretheDelta

Tunnels Opponents: EPA Rejects Flawed Project
No Financing Plan, No Water, Won’t Restore Delta
Tens of Thousands Comment “No Tunnels”

Sacramento, CA- Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Gov. Brown’s rush to build Peripheral Tunnels that would drain the Delta and doom sustainable farms, and salmon and other Pacific fisheries, today applauded the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) critical review of the Draft Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS). The opponents said the Brown Administration’s delay and redrafting of the governor’s water tunnels plan is a response to the EPA’s criticism of its fatal flaws, does not meet federal standards, and lacks a financing plan.

“The EPA’s criticism of the BDCP shows that it is fatally flawed,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of RTD. “The letter by the EPA to National Marine Fisheries Service confirms our findings that the BDCP is a disaster for Delta water quality, communities and fisheries. If the BDCP simply does a rewrite, these issues will not disappear. Rearranging the chairs on the Titanic did not keep it from sinking. A rewrite will not fix the BDCP.”

Delaying the BDCP will not change the fundamental flaws underlying it: it doesn’t pencil out, there is no surplus water for export, and you can’t restore the San Francisco-San Joaquin Delta estuary by draining water from it. The delay shows the power of public engagement. Thousands of pages of comments were turned in, everything from simple statements from citizens to complex analyses by experts.”

“EPA’s objections to the use of the purpose and needs statement for the project (full contract amounts) to limit the range of alternatives may be the most important issue (cover letter, page 2 under Alternatives). EPA’s concerns about impacts to water supply and quality in the Delta are important criticisms.

EPA’s comments are likely the primary reason for the Administration’s decision yesterday to prepare a Supplemental EIR/EIS.

Since the federal lead agencies agreed to prepare a supplemental EIS to address the flaws EPA found, the rating will not be issued. The rating was going to be EU3, meaning environmentally unsatisfactory and seriously lacking in information to address environmental impacts (see p. 3 of linked document above).

The EIR/EIS is fatally flawed due to its failure to include a viable funding plan, exclusion of any true no-tunnels alternatives, failure to comply with the Endangered Species Act as evidenced by numerous scientists’ red flags, misrepresenting taking water to be a “conservation” plan, secret BDCP planning with the exporters and their consultants, and lack of public outreach to non-English speakers.

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Water bond update

waterbondupdate

To learn about a new campaign opposing the Water Bond, you will need to visit www.NoOnProp1.org, and/or follow or “LIKE” No On Prop 1 Facebook or Vote No On Prop 1 on Twitter.

Regular updates on this issue will not be forthcoming from Restore the Delta, but from the No On Prop 1 committee.

Take the time to check out these sites, there is a lot of new information available.

Thank you,

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla

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BDCP Delay Shows Fatal Flaws: No Financing Plan, No Water, Won’t Restore Delta Tens of Thousands Comment “No Tunnels”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Contact: Steve Hopcraft 916/457-5546; [email protected]; Twitter: @shopcraft; @MrSandHillCrane; Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla 209/479-2053 [email protected]; Twitter: @RestoretheDelta

Tunnels Opponents: BDCP Delay Shows Fatal Flaws:
No Financing Plan, No Water, Won’t Restore Delta
Tens of Thousands Comment “No Tunnels”

Sacramento, CA- Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Gov. Brown’s rush to build Peripheral Tunnels that would drain the Delta and doom sustainable farms, and salmon and other Pacific fisheries, today hailed the delay and redrafting of its Draft Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS), and a new public comment period. The opponents said the delay and redrafting of the governor’s water tunnels plan shows it is fatally flawed, does not meet state or federal standards, and lacks a financing plan.

“The delay in the BDCP shows that it is fatally flawed. There is no financing plan. They cannot finance it because the water is not there,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of RTD. “Delaying the BDCP will not change the fundamental flaws underlying it: it doesn’t pencil out, there is no surplus water for export, and you can’t restore the San Francisco-San Joaquin Delta estuary by draining water from it. The delay shows the power of public engagement. Thousands of pages of comments were turned in, everything from simple statements from citizens to complex analyses by experts.”

The EIR/EIS is fatally flawed due to its failure to include a viable funding plan, exclusion of any true no-tunnels alternatives, failure to comply with the Endangered Species Act as evidenced by numerous scientists’ red flags, misrepresenting taking water to be a “conservation” plan, secret BDCP planning with the exporters and their consultants, and lack of public outreach to non-English speakers.

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News from Restore the Delta: August 27, 2014

Diseases desperate grown
By desperate appliance are relieved,
Or not at all.
- Shakespeare, Hamlet

Articles
Full-court press from Westlands
Roll up your sleeves for recirculated BDCP documents

Full-court press from Westlands

by Jane Wagner-Tyack

Westlands Water District irrigators are face to face with the ugly truth of how little water their junior water rights give them when there isn’t any surplus, and how much they have to pay for what they can get.

In July, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) (uninfluenced by exporters, of course) asked the State Water Resources Control Board to order south and central Delta water diverters with riparian and pre-1914 water rights to provide information about what right they had to divert the water and how much they were diverting.

Early this month, Westlands upped the ante on that (excuse our mixed metaphors) by telling the Water Board’s Division of Water Rights that south and central Delta diversions were just flat-out unlawful. Westlands doesn’t believe the Delta Watermaster’s findings that the vast majority of Delta diversions are entirely legal.

Westlands’ allocation of water is zero for this contract year, although they have found water available for transfer, at up to $2000 per acre foot. That transfer water must be coming from north of the Delta because they suspect that it is being unlawfully diverted in the Delta.

Westlands’ letter to the Water Board features a story about a farmer having to tear out 120 acres of almond trees.

Hardly any decent natural flows of San Joaquin River water find their way to the Delta anymore, but Westlands says that’s all central and south Delta diverters have right to because natural flows from the Sacramento River never get that far south. Stored Sacramento River water is Central Valley Project water, and Westlands says that belongs to them. Delta diverters are not allowed to take any of that water that happens to flow past.

The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) responded by filing a complaint with the Water Board charging that DWR and USBR have been diverting and exporting water to which they have no legal water right. The Bay Delta Conservation Plan’s own analysis shows that a significant percentage of state and federal water project exports come from the San Joaquin, Mokelumne, Cosumnes and Calaveras rivers. DWR and USBR don’t have rights to divert and export any of those waters. Once in the Delta, water from those rivers is considered “abandoned” and holders of legal diversion rights in the Delta have first claim on the water.

Said CSPA’s Bill Jennings, “Contrary to DWR and USBR’s claim that Delta farmers were illegally diverting water, it is DWR and USBR that have long been stealing water belonging to Delta farmers. USBR has also been illegal taking all of the riparian flow in the upstream San Joaquin River thus depriving Delta water users on the lower river of their fair share of riparian flows.”

So the Water Board has its hands full with all that.

Meanwhile, Westlands has also looked west in search of diverters to blame, in this case to Bay Area users of water from Hetch Hetchy reservoir. A Fresno nonprofit, the Center for Environmental Science, Accuracy and Reliability (CESAR), filed a lawsuit against the National Park Service arguing that the park service has failed to ensure that Hetch Hetchy reservoir doesn’t negatively impact endangered species. The nonprofit says that Hetch Hetchy deprives the Delta of fresh water, increasing its salinity and hurting endangered salmon, smelt and sturgeon.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the nonprofit behind this complaint has ties to Westlands. It looks like CESAR’s lawsuit has less to do with protecting endangered species than with spreading the blame for their decline.

Rounding out this interesting series of developments regarding water rights and water uses was a report issued by UC Davis confirming what others have been saying for years: California’s water rights have been overallocated by at least 5 times. (Find a link here to read the study.)

It’s beginning to look like the Water Board might be forced to start a process to adjudicate Central Valley water rights. That’s a prospect that makes EVERYBODY nervous.

Roll up your sleeves for recirculated BDCP documents

Posted 8/27/14 on the BDCP website:

The Department of Water Resources and the other state and federal agencies leading the Bay Delta Conservation Plan will publish a Recirculated Draft BDCP, Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS), and Implementing Agreement (IA) in early 2015. The agencies are currently reviewing the comments received through the public comment period that ended on July 29, 2014. The scope of the partially recirculated draft documents will be announced in approximately six to eight weeks. The recirculated documents will include those portions of each document that warrant another public review prior to publication of final documents. The public will also have the opportunity to review the final documents prior to their adoption and any decisions about the proposed actions.

Something to look forward to in the new year.

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Tunnels Opponents: Gov. Brown’s Water Bond Will be a Referendum on Tunnels; NOT “Tunnels Neutral”, Charging Taxpayers $485 Million to Buy Water for Tunnels is “Nuts”, Shift of Burden to Public “Illegal”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Contact: Steve Hopcraft 916/457-5546; [email protected]; Twitter: @shopcraft; @MrSandHillCrane; Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla 209/479-2053 [email protected]; Twitter: @RestoretheDelta

Tunnels Opponents: Gov. Brown’s Water Bond
Will be a Referendum on Tunnels;
NOT “Tunnels Neutral”,
Charging Taxpayers $485 Million to Buy Water for Tunnels is “Nuts”, Shift of Burden to Public “Illegal”

Sacramento, CA – Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Gov. Brown’s rush to build water export Tunnels that would drain the Delta and doom sustainable farms, salmon and other Pacific fisheries, today called Governor Brown’s water bond proposal to have taxpayers buy water for future fish flows to satisfy exporter mitigation requirements “nuts.” RTD said the governor’s bond measure is NOT “tunnels neutral,” and contains $485 million to buy water to replace what will be pumped into the tunnels. “Charging taxpayers $485 million to replace water sent through the tunnels to enrich mega-growers in Westlands and Kern Water Districts is nuts,” said RTD Executive Director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla. “With that Ponzi scheme included, this bond will become a referendum on the tunnels.”

The governor’s flow language would allow public funds to be used to purchase water that could be diverted into the Delta tunnels. “The half-billion dollars in funding for purchase of water upstream of the Delta, and later diverted into the tunnels is a massive transfer of wealth from the rest of us to a few mega-growers who hog 70% of the water exported from the Delta,” said Barrigan-Parrilla. “Water transfers are needed by the BDCP for mitigation — essentially they can’t operate the new tunnels without putting more water in the River, which the BDCP will purchase – at taxpayer expense – from water districts and growers in the northern Sacramento Valley.”

Here is simple language that could fix the bond measure’s shift of costs from water exporters to taxpayers: No water purchased under this division can be used directly or indirectly for exports from the San Francisco Bay Delta. That’s tunnels neutral.

Restore the Delta board member and water law expert John Herrick, said, “Legally it is the obligation of the projects to protect these fisheries and return their populations to pre-project or other levels. Until the projects have undertaken and accomplished this restoration of the fish populations, no public funds should, or can be legally used to recover the fish. Hence, any proposal for state or federal funding of new habitat for fish rearing or purchased water for fishery flows is a transfer of the projects’ contractors’ obligations onto the general public. Such a transfer is not just bad policy, it is illegal.”

The Department of Fish and Wildlife would use up to $485,000,000 from Sections 79733 and 79737 to buy water that would be dedicated under Water Code Section 1707 for in stream use in waterways upstream of the Delta. However, once that water reached the tunnel intakes it could be diverted into the tunnels. The new wording does not prevent that. This water would be available for export from the Delta the same as any other water purchased by the exporters. The public would be paying for that benefit to the exporters.

Restore the Delta is a 15,000-member grassroots organization committed to making the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta fishable, swimmable, drinkable, and farmable to benefit all of California. Restore the Delta works to improve water quality so that fisheries and farming can thrive together again in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. www.restorethedelta.org

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