Gov. Brown Trampling Laws, Water Quality & Habitat Under Cover of Drought Emergency

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Contact: Steve Hopcraft 916/457-5546;; Twitter: @shopcraft; Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla 209/479-2053; Twitter: @RestoretheDelta

Tunnels Opponents: Gov. Brown Trampling Laws, Water Quality & Habitat
Under Cover of Drought Emergency

No Permit to Build Barrier; No Water Quality Protection;
Ineffective Effort to Protect Endangered Garter Snake

Stockton, CA- Restore the Delta (RTD), 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, along with its partners today made the following statement to the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) regarding drought impacts, the installation of a drought barrier in the Delta, and violations of Delta water quality standards since the beginning of the year.

“The California drought is a fifty-eight county drought,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director for Restore the Delta. “Previous workshops in front of the SWRCB have focused primarily on efforts to get water to a handful of the 58 counties in California, and less than equal time has been spent on the impacts of drought management on the five Delta counties, Delta fisheries, threatened species, and water quality standards. The five Delta Counties are donor counties to the water export system, and have already suffered the negative impacts from the export of hundreds of millions of acre-feet of water over decades. This board determined in 2010 that greater outflows to the San Francisco Bay were needed for the protections of the estuary. Yet, the pumps have yet to be turned off one day in over four years of drought. The negative impacts of over pumping the estuary are now being exacerbated by drought emergency measures, and federal water quality standards are being violated on a daily basis.”

California Sportfishing Protection Alliance’s Bill Jennings added, “The State Board Drought orders are an execution warrant for Central Valley fisheries. It is an unreasonable use of water to send species into extinction and hijack water from the environment, areas where water originates, and urban communities, simply to supply junior water rights holders in the desert with vast quantities of water to irrigate crops that produce relatively little revenue and few jobs.”

The priorities of the State are evident in the inadequate steps taken to protect the endangered giant garter snake during drought barrier construction at False River. Photos taken during barrier construction show that DWR installed a 150-foot-long fence along the road surrounded by open fields that extend for 7 miles around the island.

Barrigan-Parrilla explained, “It is laughable to think that a small fence will protect the threatened snake from slithering into equipment and materials during construction. The snake can go, and has already gone, around this cloth fence. Additional historical documents show that the False River Barrier is being constructed exactly where their habitat is located on Bradford Island. If the State cannot follow the laws in place or use good sense and judgment to get this small project right from the start, how can anyone believe that they will they protect the dozens of endangered species that live in the Delta, like the giant garter snake, while staging 35 miles of around-the-clock construction for 10 years to build Governor Brown’s water tunnels?”

Restore the Delta also released a short video on You Tube to make their drought concerns accessible to the public, calling for favoritism to end in the Brown Administration’s handling of drought measures and efforts to move forward with the Delta tunnels. The video can be seen here.

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