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Restore the Delta releases drought chronology
Dan Bacher
Restore the Delta on February 19 released an excellent chronology of drought-related events that help to reveal the mismanagement of California reservoirs and rivers and the Delta by the state and federal governments during the drought. The document's release took place as Governor Jerry Brown continues to fast the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels, a multi-billion dollar project that would devastate Central Valley salmon and Delta fish populations while taking vast tracts of Delta farmland, among the most fertile on the planet, out of production in order to irrigate drainage-impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. Yet the tunnels won’t create one drop of new water. On the same day, Governor Brown joined Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez to announce legislation to “immediately help communities deal with the devastating dry conditions affecting our state and provide funding to increase local water supplies.” “This is a call to action. We must all do our part to conserve in this drought,” said Governor Brown. “The state is doing its part by providing immediate funding for drinking water, food, housing and assistance for water-conserving technologies." The legislation provides $687.4 million to support drought relief, including money for housing and food for workers directly impacted by the drought, bond funds for projects to help local communities more efficiently capture and manage water and funding for securing emergency drinking water supplies for drought-impacted communities. "In addition, the legislation increases funding for state and local conservation corps to assist communities with efficiency upgrades and reduce fire fuels in fire risk areas, and includes $1 million for the Save Our Water public awareness campaign – which will enhance its mission to inform Californians how they can do their part to conserve water," according to the Governor's Office. Ironically, as the Governor and legislative leaders called for increased water conservation and badly-needed relief for communities impacted by the drought, Brown continues to support the increase of environmentally destructive fracking (hydraulic fracturing) operations to extract oil in California. In September, Brown signed Senator Fran Pavley’s Senate Bill 4, legislation that gives the green light to expanding fracking in the state’s Monterey Shale deposits. The water-intensive practice of fracking will not only take water that is desperately needed by people, farms, fish and wildlife during an unprecedented drought, but it will result in the contamination of ground water supplies and rivers, further imperiling Californians and the environment. If Brown is truly serious about water “conservation,” he must call for a ban on fracking throughout California and abandon his Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the fish-killing tunnels to deliver Sacramento River water to corporate agribusiness interests, Southern California water agencies and oil companies. Save the Delta - Stop the Tunnels photo by Dan Bacher.

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