Conservation - July 2012
"Let me state, clearly and finally, the Interior Department is fully and completely committed to the policy that no water that is ever needed in the Sacramento Valley will be sent out of it. There is no intent on the part of the Bureau of Reclamation ever to divert from the Sacramento Valley a single acre-foot of water that might be used in the valley now or later."
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Kruge, October 1948
Sometime in the last two weeks of July, it is expected that Governor Jerry Brown and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will announce the proposed building of water conveyance tunnels (peripheral canal) around the east side of the Delta. It is expected that the system will have three intakes on the Sacramento River and take 9,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) from the river with a maximum capability of taking 15,000 cfs. Its difficult for most of us to visualize just how much water that is. To put it in perspective, the Sacramento River was flowing at approximately 8,000 cfs when our club fished for shad on the river early this June. The last week in June, the Mokelumne River is flowing at 273 cfs. To visualize what Brown and Salazar propose is taking all the water we saw when we fished the Sacramento plus 3 and 2/3 Mokelumne Rivers. The idea of taking that much water from the Delta immediately brings many unanswered questions to mind. Some of these questions include the badly-flawed Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), who gets what, what are the costs, and why has Brown strongly resisted a cost analysis for the project, etc...
|Governor Jerry Brown with Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar|
Early June , Bill Jennings of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) responded to an editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle. The Chronicle concluded that while they thought a peripheral canal was a bad idea, it would be built anyway. Jennings disagreed, and the paper published his reply. The Chronicle over-looked many things that a canal must accomplish to become a reality. According to Jennings, to build the canal the state will have to suspend the environmental review statutes, California's Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, the California Water Code and go through Congress, the Legislature, the voters, and the court system. At a cost of $1/4 billion, the BDCP has produced badly-flawed science that has been rejected by independent scientists from the National Academy of Sciences and other independent science organizations. The "science" put forth by the BDCP is what they want and not the scientific reality that exists in the Delta. Because of the overwhelming flaws exposed in the BDCP, the group is trying to move to a BDCP Plus operation which wants a canal built, then claims they will "solve" the issues caused by a canal after it is built! This is the Mt. Everest of back-door thinking.
|Bill Jennings speaking to the Delta Fly Fishers at the annual barbecue about the coming battle over the delta and its water.|
Jennings points out that the state's water problems exist because the state gave out water unfairly, wasted water, and over-promised the resource. Another side to this issue is that the state had a provision in the water contracts with water contractors that stated if there was a shortage of water, the state didn't have to fulfill the their part of the contract. However, in 1985 the state and contractors met illegally, behind closed doors, and removed that clause from the contracts without public knowledge. Another bizarre fact is that California has promised more water to contractors than has existed in the wettest year of the state's recorded history. The state have also contracted the rights to water flow that is 4 times the flow of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers combined. Jennings correctly refers to this as dealing with "paper water". Not in water that exist in reality.
Other issues are raising their ugly heads: Who gets how much water, how much will it cost, and who pays? At this point the parties are proposing a 75-25 split. South San Joaquin Valley corporate farmers are to receive 75% while the south's metropolitan water districts will get 25% of the canal's water export. Now here is the interesting part. The corporate farming interests propose that they only pay 25% of the cost for 75% of the water; the metropolitan water districts are to pay 75% of the cost for 25% of the water. This has not even been agreed upon by either side. Another question is what will be the cost of servicing the debt of this huge project. Again who pays what and how much will that cost be ? The fact is that the South Joaquin Valley corporate farms produce only 0.5% of the states economy yet they want 75% of all water exported and have the metropolitan water districts pay the 75% of the bill. This despite the fact that Southern California has 28 million people and produces half the states economy. Economically, the south valley corporate farms position makes no sense .
|The largest and most powerful water district in the nation, Westlands has the money and political clout to push for the "conveyance."|
Getting an accurate cost of the proposed canal project is next to impossible. Two years ago, figures from $10 to over $50 billion were thrown about without specifics. Now the estimate for the canal and cost of operation is $15.7 billion. This figure does not included debt service. Nor does it include the cost of 42-44 miles of land and property needed, public domain expenses, infra structure and environmental cost. There are so may variables in this estimate that are not accounted for that the accuracy of a $15.7 billion cost is very questionable. In Marc Reisner's book Cadillac Desert, Jerry Brown's father was faced with a similar problem when he wanted to build the Central Valley Project. He was faced with opposition to the project and found the project would be twice the cost they estimated. He did what politicians do when faced with a major problem. He lied. Since Jerry Brown stopped the Legislative Analyst from doing a impartial analysis on this proposed project, you must assume Brown is following in his father's footsteps. He is not telling the truth.
People well versed in the Delta know that a peripheral canal will destroy the Delta as we know it. Those who want a canal will examine neither the environmental issues nor the economic facts of life. The University of the Pacific's Dr. Jeffery Michael is the Director of the Business Forecasting Center (BFC). The BFC is well-known for its expertise on the economy of the Central Valley. The BFC is the only academic, non governmental organization to do a benefit-cost analysis of a Delta peripheral canal . After the BFC's study it was found that for every $2.50 spent in cost, only $1.00 will be generated in economic benefit. Not only will this "water conveyance " destroy the Delta, it is not economically feasible and will be an economic disaster . Despite the negatives however, you can expect Brown , Salazar et. al. to continue to push the project forward. Given our state's economic woes, how can we survive another major economic disaster.
|Click on the image above to be taken to the "Over Troubled Waters" trailer.|
The first week in July, Restore the Delta (RTD) is releasing their long-awaited video, Over troubled Waters. RTD wants the video released before the Brown-Salazar canal announcement. In talking with RTD and their public relations people, they want as many people as possible in both Northern and Southern California the real problems that would be caused by the peripheral canal. The people in Southern California are not seeing the situation as it really is. The video has a 5 minute trailer which can be seen at: http://overtroubledwaters.org/ . Ed Begley Jr. narrates and the video is beautify filmed. The video shows our side of the peripheral canal issue and the problems it will cause. Watch the trailer now and the video when it is released.
Restore the Delta has also announced a meeting in Stockton, Wednesday, July 11th at 6-8 pm at 2000 Amblers Lane. The meeting will concern current issues and where we go from here here. Lets have a large showing Delta Fly Fishers attending to show our support.