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Feds and State to Hold Public Meeting As Canal Battle Heats Up
by Dan Bacher
Tuesday Aug 11th, 2009 3:10 PM
The battle to save the Delta and defeat Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and his Democratic collaborators in the State Legislature is really heating up this week. Here's today's news from Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, campaign director of Restore the Delta.

Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes and DWR Director Lester Snow will hold a public meeting on California's Water Challenges and Delta related issues this Wednesday, August 12 from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Capitol Plaza Holiday Inn in Downtown Sacramento. The address is 300 J Street.

On the day before the meeting, the PPIC released yet another horrible report on funding the peripheral canal. The previous report backing the canal was funded by the Bechtel and the Packard Foundation, two of the worst corporate greenwashers on the planet.

For more information, go to


"Figures never lie, but liars sure can figure." ---Unknown Colloquial Saying

Meeting with Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Hayes

Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes and DWR Director Lester Snow will hold a public meeting on California's Water Challenges and Delta related issues this Wednesday, August 12 from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Capitol Plaza Holiday Inn in Downtown Sacramento. The address is 300 J Street.

As of today, (8/11), an agenda was published. Representatives from the Westlands Water District and the Metropolitan Water District will be discussing the fate of the Delta with Doctor Jeff Mount - whose views of impending doom for Delta levees are being seriously questioned by Delta engineers. And of course, as part of Lester Snow's agenda, not one environmental, engineering, or agricultural representative was invited from the Delta to participate in the panel.

Restore the Delta believes that this is one of the two most important meetings that our supporters can attend on behalf of the Delta this year.

We need a good showing of people who can make it clear to Deputy Director Hayes that DWR's decision- making is too influenced by politics and questionable science to be reliable.

PPIC Report on Funding New Conveyance for the Delta

Restore the Delta staff has only had minutes to review the new PPIC report Fixing the Delta:How We Will Pay For It? But we immediately have one observation worth making. Like in their earlier do not resuscitate analysis of the Delta, PPIC authors do not note in their section on Delta levees the recreation benefits or economy that results from levees. They have left boating, marinas, recreational fishing, and the related commercial fishing economy out of the analysis. In their reports, they consistently assert that levees protect only farmland and a couple of roads. Such incomplete scholarship.

Delta Bill Package

Special by Jane Wagner-Tyack
The Delta Plan bill by Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael (formerly AB 39), is schizophrenic in both the clinical and the common senses of the word: it is both delusional and internally contradictory.

The delusion arises from the bill's acceptance of the notion of coequal goals for the Delta, adopted by both Delta Vision and the BDCP as a way to make as many people as possible happy. This notion has always been flawed because it is not possible to guarantee water supplies for people and agriculture and at the same time guarantee water for the ecosystem.

Huffman's bill has to include the BDCP; otherwise, the governor will never sign it. But the BDCP is being presented as a Habitat Conservation Plan. According to state and federal law, a HCP should focus on habitat improvement. Since the main objective is to find adaptive management strategies that will enable endangered species to recover, levels of exports cannot be determined in advance.

Having set itself the task of guaranteeing contradictory goals, this bill establishing the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Reform Act of 2009 cannot help being contradictory in trying to devise a plan.

Some sections of the bill are eloquent in describing existing Delta communities and values and the Delta economy ("existing developed uses . . . are essential to the economic and social well-being of the people of this state"). There is even a proposal for making the Delta a National Heritage Area. But elsewhere, the bill makes it clear that maintaining the Delta in its present form is not the business of the state. Several times, it refers to the Delta as "evolving." All human and natural communities evolve, but they change faster if they are made to change with strategies like refocusing "the economic and public values of Delta agriculture."

Similarly, the bill includes a detailed discussion of flood control, but mostly for the state and federal water projects; local flood protection plans may be incorporated, and the plan will "promote" emergency preparedness, appropriate land uses, and strategic levee investments. At the outset, the bill says that landowners are not entitled to state funding to maintain or repair private levees, suggesting an end to the subvention program for levee maintenance. There appears to be no commitment to protecting the Delta as a common pool, although it is "the hub of the California water system." And even more apparent is a lack of knowledge regarding levee protection in the Delta - private levees must be maintained so as to keep stress off of the state and federal levees that protect hundreds of thousands of urban residents in the Delta.

In one small section, the bill calls for regional self- reliance and says that it is the policy of the state to reduce long-term dependence on water from the Delta watershed. Then it spends pages describing a plan to enable continued dependence.

The bill claims that the Delta Plan Act would not affect area of origin rights protections under the law. Then it refers specifically to sections of the Water Code that have consistently been violated when water needed in the Sacramento Valley has been exported and when storing and releasing water for use outside the Delta has not met objectives for salinity control, an adequate Delta water supply, and maintenance of the common pool.

Early actions under the Act can proceed with just a quorum of the Delta Stewardship Council. (Neither the Council itself nor a quorum are defined in this bill.) One early action is to be the appointment of an Independent Science Board. Apparently recognizing that the science applied so far to this issue has not been good, the bill repeatedly calls for using "the best available scientific information."

One early action of the council will be coming up with a finance strategy for developing the Delta Plan. Coming up with a strategy is all this bill says about how the plan will be paid for.

The council will get DFG started on some identified near-term restoration projects in the Delta. DFG is also supposed to submit information and recommendations that it "deems reliable" regarding the Delta's instream flow needs, something DFG has not so far been able to do.

The bill uses "department" and "board" without defining them, but context makes it clear that the board is the SWRCB. The board is supposed to charge the department for the costs of instream flow needs analysis "pursuant to the board's authority to regulate the water rights of the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Projects." It appears that the State Water Contractors, through DWR, would pay for this analysis of instream flow needs-a clear case of conflict of interest.

The bill includes reference to a "special master" (a water master) to help decide whether board's determinations of instream flow needs "were arbitrary or capricious."

The bill gives control of the BDCP process to the Delta Stewardship Council and incorporates the BDCP into the Delta Plan. It requires analysis of different conveyance alternatives but does not consider a no- conveyance alternative. The Independent Science Board is supposed to review data and hypotheses on which the BDCP's adaptive management is based. Apparently the whole process will go forward more or less as the BDCP intends, but under the Delta Plan. Alternative conveyance requires no further legislative approval. It is here that we find Assembly Member Huffman's implicit approval for construction of the peripheral canal.

But except for "the board" charging "the department" for instream flow needs analysis, this bill doesn't suggest how any activities or projects associated with the Delta Plan (apparently including both conveyance and storage-a canal and dams) will be paid for. Tomorrow, we will discuss funding as it is laid out in the other bills.

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.
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