Moon and Snow both noted that operating criteria determine how much water you get, regardless of what is built. But Assembly member Yamada and Huffman both made the point that with a large facility come large expectations. And the size of the facility is still unknown.
Huffman asked Snow about the meeting that took place last week with the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. Snow said it involved an explicit discussion of cost and generated a great deal of frustration.
Westlands’ Peltier voiced that frustration. He focused on two issues. First, what the water contractors heard from federal agencies is that the BDCP is on track to produce a document that the feds do not consider permittable. He blamed this on the work of “mid-level biologists” and suggested that it would be preferable to have political appointees make decisions based on the whole picture. “The world,” said Peltier,” is bigger than the word of a few biologists.”
Second, Peltier voiced frustration about the “never-ending stream of letters” from environmental organizations both on and off the BDCP steering committee who seem to envision a perfect world but ignore economic realities.
Moon noted that the reform legislation did not call for flow criteria to be integrated in the BDCP. The flow criteria were supposed to “inform planning decisions.” Contractors feel that the SWB report was done rapidly and should not be adopted wholesale.
But Koehler said that the plan is required to pay attention to recovery of endangered species. However, she also said that certainty can’t be the decision-making standard. She recommended a broad adaptive management range and said that we can’t wait for all the answers; we need to get something going.
And no one knows how this will all be paid for. One thing that seems clear, however, is that exporters are unlikely to continue to pay for a plan that will not give them the amount and reliability of water that they thought they were getting with their investment in the BDCP.