For immediate release: June 22, 2017
Nora Kovaleski, 408-806-6470, email@example.com
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta, 209-479-2053, firstname.lastname@example.org
Delta Stewardship Council Votes to Approve
Delta Plan Amendments: Fails to Meet State Mandates
Sacramento, June 22–The Delta Stewardship Council (DSC) endorsed proposed conveyance and storage amendments to the Delta Plan today.
For years, Restore the Delta, environmental groups, and Delta residents have requested the Delta Stewardship Council to follow Delta Reform Act mandates to reduce reliance on the Delta, invest in existing levees, protect fish, and stop the damage from operation of the state and federal water pumps near Tracy. Instead, the DSC chose to promote ”dual conveyance” systems in order to aid the Brown Administration and special interest water districts attempting to fast-track the Delta Tunnels (also known as “California WaterFix”) proposal.
Attorney for Local Agencies of the North Delta (LAND), Osha Meserve explained:
“The Council has confused the public about the implications of its decision. While the Council has characterized the amendments as necessary to keep the Delta Plan up to date, the amendments appear designed to placate the mega-water agencies gunning for the Delta Tunnels project. These agencies have demanded that the Council take actions to endorse the Delta Tunnels project, and that’s what the amendments do.”
“If the DSC decides eventually to integrate these conveyance and storage amendments as currently drafted into the Delta Plan as proposed, progress on protecting the San Francisco-Bay Delta will be set back decades. Under no scenario, could an isolated diversion project like the Delta Tunnels be built and operated in a manner that would leave the Delta environment and communities intact.”
Although the Council has taken into consideration Restore the Delta and Delta communities’ concerns about new conveyance threatening access to clean drinking water and irrigation water for the Delta’s prime farmland, as well as fishing and water-contact recreation, the conveyance and storage amendments do nothing to actually require that local water uses be protected. This reduces local water supply reliability for the benefit of areas hundreds of miles away that have failed to sustainably manage their local water supplies. In addition, the Council has failed to complete a basic assessment justifying dual conveyance projects, such as a water supply analysis to show the water is available or a cost-benefit analysis showing the project could pencil out for ratepayers.
Moreover, the Council has failed to meaningfully address state environmental justice policies.
Executive Director of Restore the Delta, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla added:
“While the Council improved their amendment some by requiring new conveyance and storage projects to address the state’s required human right to water policy analysis in their language, the edited amendment ignore the full breadth of laws and policies that should be evaluated for Delta environmental justice communities, and only considers impacts to environmental justice communities outside of the Delta.
“The Council continues to tinker around the edges within their planning process instead of fully complying with all state laws and policies regarding environmental justice, protecting the Delta as an evolving place, creating measurable criteria for improving Delta flows, and promoting logical water supply reliability planning. Clearly, the Council picks and chooses what portions of their mandate they are willing to execute. For instance, the DSC claims other state civil rights and environmental justice policies don’t apply to them; this kind of thinking has already gotten the Council in trouble with the courts on the Delta Plan.
“The current rush to move forward with approving the conveyance and storage amendment before the EIR process is to appease the Metropolitan Water District, whose officials have stated publicly that action by the Council is necessary for them to move forward with Board approval for financing the tunnels. Instead of serving as an impartial body interested in fully executing its dual mission, the DSC—like the Brown Administration—is focused solely on creating winners and losers in California in regards to who will get water. Thus far, Delta urban and farming communities, and California’s endangered fisheries are being set up to be the losers. But we will continue to fight back in the courts and in the court of public opinion.”