Brown Administration to push through Peripheral Canal say Delta groups

SACRAMENTO
May 24, 2012 2:39pm
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•  Environmental groups say they are outraged

•  Natural Resources Agencies denies anything has been decided


Gov. Jerry Brown has decided to push through a plan to build a peripheral canal around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to siphon fresh water out of the Sacramento River before it enters the Delta and ship it to San Joaquin Valley farmers and Los Angeles, says the group Restore the Delta.

The outline of the plan was relayed Thursday in a phone call by Natural Resources Agency Secretary John Laird and on Wednesday by Department of Water Resources Deputy Director Jerry Meral in a phone call to the Five Delta County Coalition, according to Restore the Delta.

But a spokesman for Mr. Meral says he knows nothing about such a call and a spokesman for Mr. Laird flatly denies any decision has been made.

Asked if a decision has been made to build the controversial canal, Richard Stapler, spokesman for Mr. Laird, says, “We absolutely have not. Any suggestion otherwise is completely and totally false, fictitious, and misleading.”

But Restore the Delta says the Resources Agency is announcing a framework based on "decision trees" that will determine how much flow and habitat is needed in the Delta over a 15-year evaluation period after the project is under construction.

"The water contractors associated with BDCP [Bay Delta Conservation Plan] have spent a quarter of a billion dollars of California water rate payers' money to create a project that was supposed to restore the Delta," says Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta. "They failed to produce such a project. So instead, the state is preparing to announce a project that has the potential to divert the majority of Sacramento River water without first ensuring protections for the Delta."

"Resources Secretary Laird has the audacity to say that the canal will be built first, and they will figure out the good science after it's built. The administration is selling this new BDCP Plus Plan as an improvement because BDCP partners are willing to wait to see what 'new' science will decide regarding project operations. But what is clear that the biological science does not support the project, so they are hoping that political science will solve the problem. All in all, they are simply going to throw more money after bad money," says Ms. Barrigan-Parrilla. "Gov. Brown proposes to continue the draining of the Delta, imperiling the Delta environment and communities, and would take prime Delta farmland to make up for habitat lost by serving unsustainable huge corporate agribusinesses on the west side of the valley."

Jerry McNerney (D-Stockton) condemned the latest developments related to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP). Mr. McNerney’s office received a briefing on the outcome of meetings held last week between federal and state government officials. The new plans still call for the construction of a massive conveyance system that would ship water to Southern California.

“This information confirms what we have known all along; the Governor and Secretary of the Interior intend to build a canal that would steal water from millions of people in our area and give it to wealthy special interests from Southern California,” says Mr. McNerney, D-Stockton. “Their plan will destroy one of the most important water resources in the country and harm the livelihoods of the four million people who call the Delta region home.”

“Now we know beyond a shadow of a doubt what the BDCP actually stands for. It’s little more than a Build the Darn Canal Plan. The people who reside in the Delta region have been shut out of this process from the beginning. Any plan that includes a peripheral canal is unacceptable. It would devastate our local economy and cost countless jobs,” Mr. McNerney says.

"This is the exact opposite of good public policy or protecting water consumers' pocketbooks, which requires that you study the costs, the benefits and the potential harm before building a massive public works project, not afterwards," says Kristin Lynch, Pacific region director of Food and Water Watch.

"The proposed project, which some estimate will cost upwards of $50 billion, is not necessary and would result in massive ratepayer hikes and put our state even further into debt,” she says. “Further, the major proponents of this infrastructure are corporate agriculture and others with financial interest in obtaining more of our state's water, giving them additional powers to control our most valuable resource."

"It's outrageous to go ahead and try to build a Peripheral Canal and say you will decide how to operate it and address the problems it causes afterwards," said Bill Jennings, executive director of California Sportfishing Protection Alliance. "A Peripheral Canal or tunnel will kill striped bass, salmon, Delta and longfin smelt and other fish. The striped bass, like salmon and Delta smelt, will be sacrificed on the altar of massive and unwise water exports. The administration's actions would result in declining water quality and would be colossal mismanagement by the state and federal government."


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