As already noted, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan Public meeting was held at the same time that the Water Commission met.
What was striking about the BDCP meeting was that little substantive information was once again presented to the public regarding the progress of the peripheral canal project or the real processes for creating and designing the project. Consequently, it produced as much tedium as the Water Commission meeting, albeit a different type.
It was noted that the Yolo Bypass Working Group had met, but there wasn’t a great deal to report because little progress had been made in one meeting.
It was also reported that the Management Committee had met. Audience members asked for verification of Management Committee members. Undersecretary Jerry Meral said the makeup of the Management Committee could be found on the BDCP website. When participants pointed out that the Management Committee was not listed on the website, he said this information would be updated this coming week. Other than membership, little was reported about Management Committee activities.
Primarily, Meral talked for nearly four hours about the need for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, and how the BDCP was truly an open, transparent, and collaborative process. This left Restore the Delta staff a lot of time to ponder the following questions:
How many State and Federal tax dollars are being used to fund facilitate this process?
While we know that the water contractors who initiated this process have fronted a substantial amount of money to fund it ($140 million), there is a considerable amount of money being spent for manpower and resources from the State of California toward furtherance of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.
The decisions being made around the BDCP Management Team table will have a negative effect on local economies and on water users statewide, but these interests are still not at the table. Our tax dollars are being used to pursue the agenda of a handful of groups who want to profit by controlling California’s water resources.
To whom is the Bay Delta Conservation Plan and Jerry Meral responsible?
We assume that the BDPC, which is being administered by Jerry Meral and which will be overseen by government agencies, is accountable to the citizens of California for its outcomes. Putting in-Delta interests aside, it would seem that water user groups and consumer advocacy organizations should be represented at the BDCP in addition to environmental groups. But which tax payers will get water for how much money is not part of the discussion as best as we can tell, not being at the table.
Why does the Management Committee still lack Delta representation?
Can anyone imagine planning a major water project in Los Angeles or Kern County without representatives from their water districts and/or county supervisors being present? But this is what has been forced on the Delta community yet once again, this time by Jerry Meral.
At the opening of the meeting, Jerry Meral referenced the ill conceived Congressional bill HR 1837 (Nunes) which would bring great harm to the Delta. (See last week’s newsletter.) While we agree fully with Meral’s statement, we cannot help wondering if he understands that the Congressional representatives pushing this bill are supported by the same water contractors at the BDCP Management Committee table?
How can Meral, in his government role, coerce Delta communities and Delta Counties to accept the BDCP process with these same water contractors in a process where Delta interests are not given equal footing? Why would we trust that new facilities would be operated for the benefit of the Delta with legislation like HR 1837 being pushed by those who want to simply take the water that they want, when they want?