Institutional voices heard, other voices silenced

The Senate Natural Resources Committee and the Select Committee on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta had a joint information hearing on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan this week, but of course they didn’t want to hear the perspectives of too many in-Delta interests that think the plan is a bad idea.  Roger Patterson of the Metropolitan Water District; David Guy of the Northern California Water Association; Greg Gartrell of Contra Costa Water District; Jason Peltier of Westlands Water District; Don Nottoli of Sacramento County; Doug Obegi of the Natural Resources Defense Council; and Brent Walthall of Kern County Water Agency all got plenty of time to testify.  Everyone else with comments to make got a strictly-enforced two minutes each.

Melinda Terry of the North Delta Water Agency (NDWA) says she saw no genuine interest – and in fact, no respect – from legislators regarding what critics of BDCP had to say.  There was no opportunity for panelists to respond to issues raised in public comment.

Terry was able to point out in her comments that the BDCP Plan and EIR/EIS indicate all protections in the NDWA 1981 Contract will be triggered:  increase in salinity, seepage and erosion damage, and lowering water surface elevations in the Sacramento River by 3-feet, as well as lowering the groundwater, which will harm Delta farming water diversion intakes and residences as their drinking water supply comes from water wells.

However, there’s no way for NDWA to determine the severity of the detrimental impacts because both the Plan and the EIR/EIS lack specific details regarding location, size, duration and intensity of any of these impacts, and the BDCP doesn’t provide any venue for meaningful discussion of these issues.

Terry also raised a couple of flood management issues on behalf of the California Central Valley Flood Control Association (CCVFCA), which she also represents:

  1. The EIR/EIS transportation chapter analyzed traffic volume and road surface conditions (pavement), but did NOT analyze the degradation of levees underneath the pavement with heavy construction trucks running 24/7 for 10-year construction period;
  2. With five county habitat conservation plans (HCPs) and the large regional BDCP HCP, there is very little habitat land left for the locals such as a reclamation districts to use when mitigating for levee improvement projects.

In addition to the BDCP Governance issues that Supervisor Notolli raised, Terry notes that the BDCP fails to provide adequate oversight and management of the mitigation measures to make sure they are done properly and are in fact working to mitigate the impacts during the 10-year construction.   Plus, the mitigations in the EIR/EIS are completely inadequate.

Added Osha Meserve of Local Agencies of the North Delta (LAND),“With respect to the massive impacts on local Delta communities from the BDCP described by Ms. Terry, our concern is that these impacts will not be justified because the Plan will not actually provide the promised biological benefits.”  It isn’t going to help fish.

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