Delta Flows: September 4, 2013

“There are no compacts between lions and men, and wolves and lambs have no concord.”
-Homer, The Illiad

“We’ll have to get back to you about that”

The Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) has held the first of their In-Delta Office Hours to provide additional information or take input about their Peripheral Tunnel and their people-and-fish-unfriendly-habitat efforts in the Delta.  When confronted with questions from residents of the Delta region, the DWR “Delta Landowner Liaisons” were mostly caught off-guard.  Here’s a video link.


Actually, it seems a little cowardly for the BDCP veterans at DWR to send these young women out unprepared to answer the tough questions about BDCP. But that shouldn’t stop us from asking the tough questions.

Here are some more reports from what people have observed at the In-Delta meetings (they are unedited):

“Hi, I attended the Brentwood “Office Hours” meeting by the D.W.R. It was hosted by Brian Heiland, a DWR engineer and two members of URS, a public affairs firm, Tiffany and Jackie. When I got there at 2pm Brian was having an easy-going question and answer conversation with about 15 people. When the pr people showed up, they said it wasn’t done that way and that everyone who showed up would have their questions answered in order by the sign-in sheet and that anyone who didn’t want to wait could submit their questions in writing to be answered later. I don’t think they wanted everyone in attendance to hear the other’s questions…

I asked Tiffany if letting the Water Contactors pay this project wasn’t in essence privatizing the State’s water conveyance system and setting them up to take water at will? Her answer was that she said that they have strict guidlines about how the pumps will operate, based on stream flows, fish need and enviornmental needs. Then I asked what assurances do we have of that as the D.W.R. has done nothing so far in those areas, citing the failure to enforce the Central Valley Improvement Act and the current state of water allocation. She said she’d have to get back to me on that one.”

To read more comments from meeting attendees, click here. These comments have not been edited except for removing names.

In private meetings with Delta landowners, DWR officials have offered unimportant benefits such as improved cell phone service, saying that they have the power to get that done. We cannot help but wondering who schooled DWR officials on how to offer goodies? This kind of deal-making is an old ploy of Dr. Jerry Meral, now Deputy Director of Natural Resources. A decade ago, Meral was described by the Sacramento Bee as running “a morally bankrupt environmental lobby” because of Meral’s “pay-to-play” strategies to get money from developers for environmental initiatives.

As one Delta resident noted after meeting at one of DWR’s private meetings, “Bottom line they are desperate, trying to pit us against each other and buy us off. They have no real plan.”

As we have reported throughout the years, there are dozens of impacts to the Delta that DWR and BDCP appear not to have thought of. If you can attend one of these In-Delta Office Hours (see the schedule here), be sure to call the attention of the Liaison to some of these impacts or any others you can think of. We have two lists to get you started: one from Melinda Terry of the North Delta Water Agency and Restore the Delta, and the other from Jan McCleery of the Save the California Delta Alliance, based in Discovery Bay.

And for those who have already attended, do not lose hope about the rightness of asking questions about the proposed tunnel project because DWR did not answer your questions. Our objective is to make sure that a sizeable number of Delta residents can speak for themselves and advocate for themselves when the BDCP releases the public draft of the environmental impact report and the plan.

Despite all the unanswered questions, BDCP still plans to release a draft plan in October, so we hear.

Restacking the Water Commission deck

The California Water Commission has two new members, neither of them likely to be sympathetic to Delta interests:

  • Adán Ortega of Fullerton, who was vice president of external affairs at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California from 1999 to 2005.
  • David Orth of Clovis, general manager of the Kings River Conservation District since 2002 and a former general manager and director of finance for Westlands Water District.

Governor Brown, who made these appointments, perhaps thought that the commission didn’t have enough of an export contractor perspective.  These two members join the following individuals on the commission:

  • Andrew Ball of San Mateo, president of a privately-hold building contracting firm.
  • Joseph Byrne of Los Angeles, an attorney specializing in Environmental and Natural Resources Law.
  • Daniel Curtin of Sacramento, director for the California Conference of Carpenters.
  • Joe Del Bosque of Los Banos, president and CEO of a diversified farm in the San Joaquin Valley and a member of the California Latino Water Coalition.
  • Kimberly Delfino of Sacramento, California program director for Defenders of Wildlife.
  • Luther Hintz of Brownsville just east of Lake Oroville, a professional civil and agricultural engineer specializing in water resources and a former executive director of Reclamation District 108 serving southern Colusa and northern Yolo counties.
  • Anthony Saracino of Sacramento, a private consultant on water resources management and policy issues and former director of the California Water Program at the Nature Conservancy.

After being moribund for years, the CWC was revived under the 2009 water legislation to resume its historical role  “advising the Director of the Department of Water Resources on matters within the Department’s jurisdiction, approving rules and regulations, and monitoring and reporting on the construction of the State Water Project.”


No other body making decisions that closely affect the welfare of the Delta region is so conspicuously lacking in representatives of that region.


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