ICYMI 10/29/23: Delta Infrastructure, Flood Disinvestment for Central Valley Communities, Remembering Isenberg, Register for Bay-Delta Hearings

Fears of Sewage-Infested Waters Spread As California Town Pleas For Help – Newsweek 10/25/23

Californians faced an onslaught of wet weather last winter when more than 12 atmospheric rivers dumped excessive rain on the state. The heavy precipitation erased much of the state’s drought and proved beneficial to the state’s wildfire threat, but it had some concerning impacts on wastewater treatment plants in Isleton, California, a small city in north-central California.
In March 2023, heavy rain overflowed the city’s wastewater ponds, causing 2 to 3 million gallons of wastewater to spill into the Mokelumne, San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers, WLWT reported at the time. The city’s pipes were damaged during the January storms, and heavy rainfall contributed to the overflow.

RTD comment:
Repairing the wastewater treatment plant in Isleton is a better investment for a healthy environment than a Delta Tunnel. Let’s protect infrastructure in the Delta that could cause great environmental damage should there be a major flood event.

Lack Of Flood Control Raises Concerns Over Water Board Representation – The Sun-Gazette 10/26/23
CENTRAL VALLEY – During three weeks in December and January, storms dumped 32 trillion gallons of rain and snow on California. With it came unwelcome floods for many communities of color.

The winter and spring storms were a rare chance for drought-stricken communities to collect rainwater, rather than have their farms, homes and more overwhelmed by water. Much of the rain that fell instead overflowed in lakes and streams, leading to disaster in low-income Central Valley towns like Allensworth and Planada.

“It’s a long history of disinvestment in disadvantaged communities and communities of color, in drinking infrastructure, water systems and flood control,” said Michael Claiborne, an attorney for the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, an environmental justice organization based in the San Joaquin and East Coachella Valleys.

Phil Isenberg: 1939-2023 – Capitol Weekly 10/26/23
Phil Isenberg, a former Sacramento mayor and one of the most influential Democratic members of the Assembly in the 1980s and 1990s, died Thursday after a short illness. He was 84.
… He focused on judicial issues and the environment, working to preserve the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and negotiating a deal to help save Mono Lake…
His post-legislative career included time as the chairman of the Delta Stewardship Council and membership on numerous public boards, including the  Public Policy Institute of California and Women Escaping a Violent Environment (WEAVE).

Take Action! Register for Bay-Delta Hearings by Nov. 3rd.

Restore the Delta and partners have been advocating through petitions filed with the State Water Resources Control Board, and with US EPA, for movement by the State Water Board to finish the Bay-Delta Plan. While we wait for implementation of Phase I (San Joaquin River flows) which was approved December 2018 and delayed due to the “voluntary agreements” process, the Delta has suffered for decades without updated water quality and flow standards that protect communities, culture, fisheries, recreation, and agriculture.

Please join us in helping advocate for an improved Bay-Delta estuary!

WHO: State Water Resources Control Board Public Hearings

WHAT: Public Hearings (Panels and Individual Comments) for Phase II of the Bay-Delta Plan. Staff Report, which focuses on Sacramento River flows. Here is a link to the 5000-plus page report

WHEN: November 17th, 9:30 am; December 1st, 9:30 am; and December 11th, 4:00 pm.

WHERE: Cal EPA Building, 1001 I Street, Sacramento or attend on Zoom.

HOW: You can organize a panel to make comments or speak individually. Panels are 20 minutes in length; individual comments are 5 minutes (about 450 words when drafting). The State Board, however, is only allowing individuals to speak once, either on a panel or individually over the course of the 3 days.


You MUST REGISTER by November 3, 2023, or you cannot participate in the public hearings. Here is the link to register

WHY: The Staff Report for the Bay-Delta Plan contains the “voluntary agreements” – a private, incomplete, and discriminatory process – in which most Californians were left out of having a say in water allocations and river and Bay-Delta protections – not to mention the disparate impacts these agreements will cause for tribal and environmental justice communities.

Additionally, the Staff Report doesn’t contain a proposed project, but rather, a recommended alternative with options, through which the Board can put together a Bay-Delta Plan that serves political interests, rather than science-based objectives to restore our fisheries and environmental health.

1. As currently drafted, the Plan is incomplete and inadequate for fisheries and the overall health of the Bay-Delta estuary.

2. A proposed alternative of 55% unimpaired flows for the Sacramento River with a range of 45-65%, will not save native fisheries, and fisheries will continue to slide into extinction. While there isn’t a stable proposed project because Board members are being offered alternatives with additional a la carte management options, 65% minimum unimpaired flows gets us closer to fish recovery, and 75% is the best based on established science. There is no plan of implementation for the proposed alternative which should have been finished over the last five years.

3. There is no harmful algal bloom standard to protect people who come in contact with waterways. There isn’t a real strategy for how harmful algal blooms will be tracked, identified, and mitigated.

4. The voluntary agreements, which are offered as an option, do not set water quality objectives — so the voluntary agreements cannot meet the objectives of the Bay-Delta Plan.

5. The voluntary agreements, as included in this draft, do not include an implementation plan, meaning that the public will have to comment on implementation later. This keeps us in a perpetual cycle of reacting to a Bay-Delta that is never finished.

6. Beneficial uses are identified in this plan, i.e., agriculture, fisheries, recreation, drinking water, but the Plan does not define Tribal Beneficial Uses, which is a continuation of discriminatory practices.

7. The staff report only looked at groundwater and drinking water, not cultural or recreational uses. The Environmental Justice analysis for the Delta is inadequate seeing it doesn’t cover 72 small drinking water systems.

8. The voluntary agreements do not address cold water pools upstream needed for fisheries and do not contain storage thresholds.

9. The Staff Report does identify the beneficial uses of a healthy river and estuary, and healthy fisheries within the cost benefit analysis. Cost benefits are mostly related to water exports.

Delta Co-Op – Space Available

Restore the Delta has workshare space available for environmental and social justice organizations and positive environmental/sustainable businesses! Located in Stockton, near the Port of Stockton and I-5, our facility includes a conference room with hybrid meeting capability, ample parking, multiple kitchens, bathrooms, and great partner organizations to collaborate with on a regular basis. We also offer a large community meeting room. The Delta Co-Op has 5 workstations available presently with access to all facilities and storage (designated closet/cabinet areas) for $300 per month. Our community meeting room is also available to rent for specific events and includes a kitchenette. The community meeting room can be rented for $300 for 8 hours or $150 for 4 hours. Contact Mariah Looney today to learn more about the Delta Co-Op and to schedule a tour. Mariah can be reached at Mariah@restorethedelta.org, or 209-479-2559

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