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We’ve been framed

Have you noticed that certain words and phrases are used over and over again to describe the Delta, while other conditions never get described at all?   Discussions about the Delta have been "framed" by people invested in seeing it in a particular way, whether or not that way is accurate. Think about how often you have seen the Delta described as the "hub" of California's water system, as if that image conveyed everything important about the region.   But anyone looking at the system honestly would have to admit that the Delta's days as a "hub" are over.  Water coming in is limited, fluctuating, and/or compromised.  Sending historic levels of that water out is fatal to the ecosystem. Describing it [...]

Pipe dream

The Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) has produced a June 2010 Status Update with several interesting maps.  They're looking at management strategies  and "opportunity areas," and considering "site selection criteria" for 5 in-river intakes at 3,000 CFS capacity each  ("to avoid high population density areas"). If you aren't looking carefully, you could miss this subtle change on the map titled "Proposed Conveyance and Habitat Restoration Options": the central alignment is identified as a "Pipeline/Tunnel." We don't remember seeing the term "pipeline" being used in earlier BDCP documents.  This map describes the "Pipeline/Tunnel" as having "2 bores, each 33 feet inside diameter."  That was the same as last summer's "tunnel" description. In a future update, we expect to see "tunnel" dropped [...]

Training wheels

Richard Roos-Collins, one of Governor Schwarzenegger's appointees to the Delta Stewardship Council (DSC), has resigned.  Roos-Collins, an attorney for the Natural Heritage Institute, had previously served on the BDCP steering committee.  Restore the Delta and other groups thought that this constituted a conflict of interest, since one function of the DSC is to evaluate the BDCP.   Roos-Collins had not yet been confirmed by the Senate.  The Governor's other three appointees - Phil Isenberg, Randy Fiorini, and Hank Nordhoff - also have not been confirmed. California law allows a Governor's appointees to serve for one year pending confirmation.   The DSC will have a Delta Plan long before that.  So confirmation is kind of a moot point: so much for [...]

It sounded like a good idea to us

The Delta Stewardship Council couldn't wait to get started on the part of the Interim Plan that involves "review and approval of Proposition 1E expenditures for selected projects." When voters approved 1E in 2006, that approval included $35 million "to reinforce those sections of the levees that have the highest potential to suffer breaches or failure and cause harm to municipal and industrial water supply aqueducts that cross the Delta and which are vulnerable to flood damage." EBMUD partnered with Delta reclamation districts to propose a Delta Levees Special Flood Control Project that would protect the District's Mokelumne Aqueducts, Kinder Morgan petroleum pipeline, Burlington Northern Santa Fe raid line, and other Delta infrastructure, including State Highway 4. The FloodSAFE Environmental [...]

We’re dancing as fast as we can

As Delta farmers struggle to file water use reports by July 2 to comply with last year's legislation changing reporting requirements, the Senate will be voting this week on SB 565 (Pavley). This bill would establish several new penalty and investigative powers at the State Water Resources Control Board dealing with water rights, while reducing or eliminating existing due process and property rights protections for California water rights holders. SB 565 Allows the State Water Board to review and revise any water right without cause, giving this agency new invasive power to inspect private property for vaguely defined purposes to ascertain whether the beneficial purposes of water use are being met. Shifts the burden of proving forfeiture of a water [...]

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