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'Clean' version of the Delta Plan isn't fooling anybody
by Dan Bacher
Thursday Aug 29th, 2013 9:01 AM
"Relying on these politicians and water contractors to drum up support for the Delta Plan is like Richard Nixon’s cabinet members warning him to not worry about the Watergate hulabaloo – it will be all right," said Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance.

Photo of the Delta Plan documents courtesy of the Delta Stewardship Council.
'Clean' version of the Delta Plan isn't fooling anybody

by Dan Bacher

The Delta Stewardship Council Wednesday released what it described as a "clean" version of the Final Delta Plan, a controversial document now being contested in seven lawsuits by diverse parties ranging from the Winnemem Wintu Tribe to the Westlands Water District.

"A clean version of the Final Delta Plan, including an Executive Summary, easy to read text, informative graphics, and decorative photographs, is available for review and downloading by clicking," the Council proclaimed.

So does that mean that the previous version of the plan was "dirty," as in obscene, corrupt, poorly written, ill-conceived and driven by dirty corporate money?

Apparently, the "clean" the Council is referring to is the "cleaning up" of the documents that previously featured a lot of crossed out and added on language.

Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance and a board member of both the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN) and Restore the Delta, wasn't impressed by the "clean" documents.

"The Council can put all of the lipstick they can on the pig, but it is still a pig, a plan that perpetuates the status quo," Jennings quipped. "The plan will not reach either of the coequal goals of restoring the Delta or providing water supply reliability."

The same Delta Stewardship Council website lists a number of “stakeholders” gushing about the “wonderful” Delta Plan. However a quick review of the web page proclaiming “What they’re saying about the Delta Plan” displays comments only from pro-peripheral tunnel politicians, water contractors and NGOs.

Natural Resources Secretary John Laird, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinbeg, Ellen Hanak, Sr. Fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, Tim Quinn, the Executive Director of the Association of California Water Agency, Dave Zelzulak of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and others opine about the “glories” of the terminally flawed Delta Plan. (

Steinberg, who was responsible for pushing through the Legislature the water policy/water bond creating a clear path to the construction of the peripheral tunnels, claims, “The Delta Plan moves the state into the 21st Century of sustainable water management.”

Actually, the Delta Plan relies on outdated 19th Century “solutions” led by the peripheral tunnel plan to export northern California water to corporate agribusiness and oil companies looking to expand fracking in California.

Jennings added, “Relying on these politicians and water contractors to drum up support for the Delta Plan is like Richard Nixon’s cabinet members warning him to not worry about the Watergate hulabaloo – it will be all right.”

“It is also akin to King George’s advisers telling him not to worry about that little revolt in the colonies,” Jennings noted.

The seven separate lawsuits challenging the Delta Plan include one by Westlands Water District; another one by the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN), California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, AquAlliance, Restore the Delta, Friends of the River and Center for Biological Diversity; and yet another one by the North Coast Rivers Alliance, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, San Francisco Crab Boat Owners Associations and Winnemem Wintu (McCloud River) Tribe. (

The City of Stockton; Save the Delta Alliance; Central Delta Water Agency, South Delta Water Agency, Local Agencies of the North Delta and Lafayette Ranch Inc.; and the State Water Contactors are also suing the Council over the plan.

“The Delta Plan violates CEQA in ten different ways,” explained Mike Jackson, attorney for C-WIN, Restore the Delta, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, and AquAlliance. “It fails to achieve the co-equal goals of Delta ecosystem restoration and water supply reliability established by the Act.”

Jackson said the plan ignored three critical documents they were obligated to use: a State Water Resources Control Board water flow recommendation; a Department of Fish and Wildlife report on biological objectives for Delta fish and wildlife species; and the Delta Protection Commission’s economic sustainability report. “In all three cases, the documents were inconvenient to the approval of the tunnels,” he noted.

Yet in spite of the seven lawsuits and widespread opposition to the poorly conceived and written Delta Plan, Phil Isenberg, Chair of the Delta Stewardship Council, and other members of the Council continue to forge on with the plan’s implementation.

Isenberg is no stranger to overseeing badly flawed “environmental” processes that violate numerous state and federal laws.

He chaired Arnold Schwarzenegger’s corrupt Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Blue Ribbon Task Force for the Central Coast. This privately funded process created so-called marine protected areas that fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil spills and offshore drilling, pollution, wind and wave energy projects, military testing and all human impacts other than fishing and gathering.

His colleague on that task force, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, ended up chairing the Initiative’s task force for Southern California. Reheis-Boyd is a curious type of “marine guardian,” since she serves as President of the Western States Petroleum Association and is leading the effort to expand fracking in California, build the Keystone XL Pipeline and to eviscerate environmental laws.

Isenberg also chaired Schwarzenegger’s equally flawed Delta Vision process that recommended the construction of a peripheral canal or tunnels.

Nobody sums up the threat that the peripheral canal or tunnels present to the state better than Caleen Sisk, Chief of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe.

“The common people will pay for the canal, and a few people will make millions,” said Sisk. “It will turn a once pristine water way into a sewer pipe. It will be all bad for the fish, the ocean and the people of California.” (

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Jan McCleery
Thursday Aug 29th, 2013 7:21 PM
I was surprised to see the prior Executive Summary totally re-written but not surprised to see that it had taken on the water contractor's latest "spin" - the myths they and Jerry Meral have been trying to spread.

Instead of that the Delta is home to half a million citizens, now there's only 12,000 in Delta farms and small communities and about a half a million on the fringes. Well, the 14,000 of us that live in Discovery Bay, who rely on boating for our community's economy, and who have the river in our back yards and flowing through our golf course wouldn't say we are living on the "fringes". Antioch on the river who's drinking water is taken directly from the river is "in the Delta". I could go on and on. Are they trying to make it seem like there's hardly no one affected by the BDCP/Tunnel plans?

They added the statement that the Delta flows have been reversed to "support cities and make the Central Valley the fruit basket and salad bowl of the nation."

First - the reverse flow is only due to the amount taken for farming, not cities. The smaller amount urban users require has minor impact.
Second - isn't the primary crop almonds? That makes them the nut bowl of the world, not the fruit and salad bowl of the nation.

More seriously, their rewording about the risks and fears is more concerning.

They've brought in the bogus "earthquake and all the levees are going to fall down" pitch. After describing the Delta saying: "It is not doing so well," they overplay the levee issue and add the stupid remark "a great earthquake, sooner or later, will shake the region like a paint can on a mixer." That is totally unproven, disputed, highly unlikely.

Only second does it talk about the fish, which is the primary crisis in the Delta today.

This next statement is totally bogus: "Today, all those who depend on or value the Delta are, in a word, afraid. Delta residents face the possibility of floods from the east when the rivers flow strongly and of salinity intrusion from the west if they flow too feebly."

Here again, they are putting the "levee problem" (which isn't a problem) first. We aren't afraid of floods. We think they should perform the ongoing maintenance they are paid to perform and have been for years but it doesn't keep us up at night. What keeps us up at night is the construction destruction they are planning - ripping up our scenic waterways. The impact on farmers losing their farms and economic impact on boating communities and marinas being blocked from boating during the construction years. The greatest fear is the loss of our fresh water ruining the Delta waters and ecosystem.

Similarly they mix up the water contractor's real fears: "Water suppliers that receive water from the Delta find those supplies insecure, subject to interruption by weather vagaries, levee failures, or pumping restrictions imposed in the desperate attempt to stem the decline of fish."

Again, the order is wrong. The only thing that gives the water contractors nightmares is the fish and resulting court orders to shut down the pumps. But have they ever, ever been interrupted by "weather vagaries, levee failures"? I think not.

At least in this version they talk to the Delta Flows in the Executive Summary but the new sentence is false: "The Water Board is now preparing to revise this flow regime, last updated in 2006. " The Delta Flow report was updated in August 2010. The DSC just didn't like the answer.