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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: California | Central Valley | East Bay | U.S. | Environment & Forest Defense | Government & Elections
Delta Advocates Rally Against the Canal at State Capitol
Jerry Neuburger, webmaster for the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, has written a good report on the rally against the peripheral canal at the State Capitol yesterday. To check out video clips of speakers and photos of the event, go to: http://www.calsport.org/7-7-09.htm.
Photo: Hundreds of Delta advocates, including family farmers from North Delta Cares, rallied at the State Capitol on Tuesday to oppose the peripheral canal and increased water exports out of the Delta. Photo by Dan Bacher.
The Delta Press Conference, July 7, 2009
by Jerry Neuburger
July 7, 2009 -- Over 250 fishermen, farmers, businessmen and conservationists gathered at the north steps of the capital to listen to Senator Lois Wolk, Lt. Governor John Garimendi, other legislators, and citizens speak in opposition to a series of bills moving through the legislature designed to fund a peripheral canal and two additional dams.
CSPA was well represented at the conference with Executive Director Bill Jennings, President Jim Crenshaw, Conservation Director John Beuttler, Director and Attorney Michael Jackson, Webmaster Jerry Neuburger and Advisory member John Ryzanych, who also represented the Allied Fishing Groups.
The first of the speakers was Senator Lois Wolk, who was instrumental in organizing the press conference. She was followed by Lt. Governor John Garimendi, Senator Mark DeSalnier, Assemblymember Alyson Huber, Assemblymember Mariko Yamada, Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors representative Mary Piepho speaking for the assembled County Supervisors, and Assemblymember Joan Buchanan.
The theme from the speakers was universal in opposition to any secret deals in the legislature to move bills to fund a peripheral canal and additional water structure.
A reoccurring point in the presentations was the fact that delta residents and governments demand input into the future of the delta. Emphasizing that fact was the presence of five supervisors from the five counties surrounding the delta, Sacramento, Yolo, San Joaquin, Contra Costa and Solano.
The first of the private citizens to speak was Rudy Mussi, (Video) a third generation Delta farmer who spoke of the changes he's seen in the delta, a huge decline in fish and in water quality and the threat that a peripheral canal would finish the job.
Next Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman’s Associations, spoke of the devastation that excessive pumping has caused to the salmon industry, the 100% unemployment of commercial family fishermen, the loss of over 200 million dollars in annual revenue and the depressed state of many coastal towns with boats at the dock and tourism down.
CSPA's Bill Jennings gave a fiery presentation on the wrongs that have occurred over the years in California's water policy, giving little credence to any promises that the state may make in the future regarding the volume of water to be pumped from the delta or any attempt to restore the delta's fisheries.
Robert Johnson, a private fisherman and now political activist spoke how the millionaire farmers of the west San Joaquin valley, while the most junior of water rights holders, have attempted to mount a PR campaign depicting themselves as victims of "fish vs. people" all the while knowing that their water supplies were entirely dependent on the availability of water on a year to year basis with no promise of any guaranteed amount.
Restore the Delta's Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla (Video) spoke of the size and cost of the canal and the havoc it would cause to delta farms, fishermen, businesses and recreation.
Fredy Morales, a young farmworker from Alpaugh in the San Joaquin Valley, described the contradictions between corporate growers pushing for more water from the Delta when people in rural communities are denied clean drinking water.
“We need clean drinking water and the water is bad in my community,” he said. “People get sick from it.”
Last minute additions to the speaker's list were Charlotte Hodde, Water Program Manager, Planning and Conservation League, Debbie Davis, Legislative Analyst, Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, Jim Metropulos, Senior Advocate, Sierra Club California and Steve Evans, Conservation Director, Friends of the River. All spoke of the need for openness in the planning of any new "plumbing" for the delta, the need to put the ecology and the economy of the delta first and the folly of billions in bonds to build what may amount to an ecological disaster.
At the end of the conference, five teams were assembled to visit various legislators, with the intent that any planning for the delta be done in open hearings with full input by the public in general and the people and governments of the delta