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A Water Grab Masquerading As Conservation Plan
by Dan Bacher
Monday Aug 10th, 2009 6:16 PM
A Water Grab Masquerading As A Conservation Plan

by Dan Bacher

California Senators and Assemblymembers are now pushing a deceptive water bill package through the Legislature that will enable Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger' to build his peripheral canal, an environmentally destructive and obscenely expensive project that will approximate the Panana Canal in length and width.

SB 12, a bill sponsored by Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), will set up a Delta Stewardship Council consisting of seven members - four appointed by the Governor and one each by the Senate and the Assembly, with the seventh being the chairperson of the Delta Protection Commission, according to Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, campaign director of Restore the Delta. How can Simitian allow Schwarzenegger, the worst-ever Governor for fish and the environment in California history, to appoint four out of seven seats of this council when the Governor wants to build the canal as a monument to his gigantic ego?

This is the same Governor that has presided over the collapse of Sacramento River salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, striped bass, Sacramento splittail and other species. This is the same Governor that has relentlessly fought the court-ordered federal government biological opinion to prevent Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, green sturgeon and the southern resident population of killer whales from going extinct.

This is the same Governor that has fast-tracked a corrupt, elitist and racist Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) process that kicks Native Americans, fishermen and seaweed harvesters off their traditional harvesting areas off Stewarts Point and Point Arena while doing absolutely nothing to stop water pollution and the threats posed by offshore oil drilling and wave energy projects. This is the same Governor who continually engages in meaningless "green energy" corporate greenwashing photo opportunities while doing his best to destroy the California Delta and the people that depend on a healthy Delta to survive.

Meanwhile, Assemblyman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) is sponsoring AB 39, a bill that includes a section on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), a Schwarzenegger-engineered plan that fishing groups, Delta farmers and many environmental groups have blasted as window dressing for building Arnold's "Big Ditch." The bill also sets the stage for the "Stewardship Council" to implement the BDCP in order to authorize the peripheral canal.

"Thus, despite Assembly Member Huffman's press release last week in which he claims not to be advancing the peripheral canal, it looks like he is allowing a peripheral canal by connecting his bill with Senator Simitian's and giving up the Legislature's authority to allow or disallow a canal," according to Barbara Barrigan Parrilla, campaign director of Restore the Delta.

We must let the public and the Legislators know that we will not allow any legislation that supports a tainted plan like the BDCP and the peripheral canal to go through the Legislature. I urge you to attend the Million Boat Float from Antioch to Sacramento on August 16-17 and to attend the hearing on the water bills on August 18!

Here is the latest newsletter from Restore the Delta, "Delta Flows," with more information about the Delta bill package, flood control planning and the Million Boat Float. To become a member of Restore the Delta, go to http://www.restorethedelta.org.
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Delta Flows - News from Restore the Delta, August 10, 2009

"Our major obligation is not to mistake slogans for solutions." ---Edward R. Murrow

Million Boat Float

This coming weekend, August 16th, a mass flotilla, The Million Boat Float, will leave Antioch and follow the Sacramento River to the State Capitol to show legislators how many passionate people are united to protect the Delta's waterways.

The flotilla will leave Antioch at 9 a.m. and meet in Sacramento at 7 p.m. Sunday evening for a riverfront rally.

Monday the 17th at 11 a.m., Delta supporters will hold a rally on the West Steps of the Capitol to let legislators and the governor hear their opposition to the peripheral canal, as well as to the Delta fishing and recreation communities being left out of the creation of new governance processes for the Delta.

For more information including schedules and boat staging areas, go to: http://www.millionboatfloat.org or contact Million Boat Float Coordinator Bruce Connelley at bconnelley [at] comcast.net or 925-625-7467. People near Sacramento can call 916-761-4726 or go to http://www.organicsacramento.org or http://www.northdeltacares.org.

Delta Bill Package

The Legislature has finally released a package of Delta bills, and we have until Tuesday, August 18 to look them over and get ready for a legislative hearing.

Here's what is in the package: A bill by Senator Simitian to set up a Delta Stewardship Council consisting of seven members- four appointed by the Governor and one each by the Senate and the Assembly, with the seventh being the chairperson of the Delta Protection Commission. That's just one member representing the Delta.

A bill by Assemblyman Huffman to direct the Delta Stewardship Council in developing a Delta Plan. The Delta Plan involves the standard coequal goals of water supply reliability and ecosystem protection, with concerns for Delta communities and values taking a backseat.

And of course, once water delivery is set as a co-equal goal to environmental protections, environmental protection would become secondary - which is contrary to existing Federal and State laws. The bill also includes a section on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, and sets the stage for the Stewardship Council to implement the BDCP in order to authorize the peripheral canal.

Moreover, these two bills by Senator Simitian and Assembly Member Huffman, which are even numbered in a way to show that they are two interlocking pieces of a puzzle, appear to authorize a peripheral canal without any requirement to go back to the Legislature for approval. Thus, despite Assembly Member Huffman's press release last week in which he claims not to be advancing the peripheral canal, it looks like he is allowing a peripheral canal by connecting his bill with Senator Simitian's and giving up the Legislature's authority to allow or disallow a canal.

Other parts of this water package include: a bill by Assembly members Feuer and Huffman dealing with water efficiency; a bill by Senator Pavley on Delta interim actions, water rights, and groundwater; Senator Wolk's bill on a Delta Conservancy and issues regarding the Delta Protection Commission.

There is good faith material in this total water package, and there is bad faith material that capitulates to the Governor and State Water Contractors with their BDCP water grab masquerading as a Habitat Conservation Plan. Restore the Delta will provide additional analysis daily between now and August 18th.

The hearing on these bills is scheduled for 9 a.m. on August 18 in Room 4202 of the State Capitol. While we still do not know what type of public input will be allowed, we strongly urge Restore the Delta supporters to be physically present at this hearing.


Planning for Flood Control

Last week a varied group of Delta interests told the Department of Water Resources that they weren't interested in helping to develop a flood management plan for the Central Valley if they were being asked to plan around an "alternative conveyance."

Legislation passed in 2007 directs DWR to develop documents that will guide integrated flood management for the Central Valley. The core document is the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan (CVFPP), and the first step in producing that document is a Regional Conditions Summary Report. Summaries are being written by work groups in the Upper and Lower Sacramento regions, the Upper and Lower San Joaquin regions, and the Delta.

At the first meeting of the Delta Work Group in Rio Vista on August 4, consultants in charge of the process abandoned their agenda early in the day as participants argued against considering a peripheral canal as a potential regional condition. Not only would a canal through the Delta change everything in terms of hydrology affecting flood conditions, but the Bay Delta Conservation Plan has still not provided a firm plan for the canal it wants to build.

In fact, rather than a flood control plan taking the BDCP into consideration, the BDCP should not proceed until there is a flood control plan clarifying the regional situation in the Delta.

Consultants and DWR representatives agreed to take the issue to DWR Director Lester Snow and report back at the next meeting, scheduled for August 27. At that time, participants will find out whether this flood protection planning process can proceed without a bias favoring water exports. If it can, the process will be radically different from other state-sponsored planning efforts that have preceded it.

RTD advocates ensuring emergency readiness to protect the people, property, and infrastructure of the Delta and to provide for a healthy ecosystem. Its campaign platform calls on the State to consult with Delta experts to prepare and fully fund a comprehensive flood plan and emergency readiness plan.

Special thanks to Jane Wagner-Tyack for all her work on this issue of Delta Flows.

Make A Donation

Restore the Delta is working everyday through public education and citizen activism to ensure the restoration and future sustainability of the California Delta. Your general contribution can help us sponsor outreach events, enable us to educate Californians on what makes the Delta so special, and assist us in building a coalition that will be recognized by government water agencies as they make water management decisions.
Restore the Delta is a charitable 501(c)3 organization. Donations are tax deductible. For more information, go to http://www.restorethedelta.org.


Restore the Delta is a grassroots campaign committed to making the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta fishable, swimmable, drinkable, and farmable to benefit all of California. Restore the Delta - a coalition of Delta residents, business leaders, civic organizations, community groups, faith-based communities, union locals, farmers, fishermen, and environmentalists - seeks to strengthen the health of the estuary and the well-being of Delta communities. Restore the Delta works to improve water quality so that fisheries and farming can thrive together again in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
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Assemblymember Huffman's Response to “A Water Grab Masquerading as a Conservation Plan"Office of Assemblymember HuffmanWednesday Aug 12th, 2009 3:51 PM
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