Water Exporters, the Department of Water Resources, and the Bureau of Reclamation Participate in Closed-Door Meetings to Plan Financing for Construction of the Peripheral Canal
Stockton, California — Restore the Delta has learned that representatives from the State Water Contractors, the San Luis Delta-Mendota Water Authority, and the Metropolitan Water District are holding closed-door meetings with officials from the Bureau of Reclamation and the Department of Water Resources to create a finance plan for construction of the peripheral canal or tunnel. This project, known as the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, will divert the Sacramento River away from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
As recently as June, Jerry Meral, who has been given charge by the Brown Administration to lead the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, assured public participants that all processes underway through the BDCP were open and transparent. However, video from the June 28,2011 Metropolitan Water District Special Committee on the Bay Delta confirms that water contractors, including Metropolitan Water District’s General Manager Roger Patterson, are already working with government officials to create the finance plan for new conveyance. (The meeting can be heard at http://mwdh2o.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=12&clip_id=1630 , minute 36.)
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director for Restore the Delta points out, “The BDCP website describes work on project financing as not beginning until the fall of 2011 after determinations are made regarding benefits of new water deliveries for State and Federal Water Contractors. However, as we have always suspected, those who want to take additional water away from Northern California and the Delta are crafting a finance plan without California tax payer and/or rate payer input.”
(See the BDCP website description of financing at: http://baydeltaconservationplan.com/BDCPPlanningProcess/WorkingGroups/WorkingGroup-Financing.aspx)
California Delta Chambers Executive Director Bill Wells asks, “How much more are urban water users in San Diego and Los Angeles willing to pay for water in order to finance this project? Can Central Valley Farmers afford to farm if the price of water triples and quadruples to pay for a canal? And how much of the financial burden will be shifted to tax payers to cover the astronomical costs for environmental mitigation to the Delta?”
Restore the Delta maintains that Californians are being hit very hard with cutbacks in education and essential services due to budget cuts. Californians should, therefore, have a say when it comes to large expenditures like building a canal or tunnel through the Delta – even if they will be asked only to finance a part of the project.
The conflict between the Brown Administration’s assertion that the Bay Delta Conservation plan is an open and transparent process and the real ongoing practice of dealing with the most important aspects of the BDCP in private is alarming. Barrigan-Parrilla asks, “Shouldn’t these types of meetings on financing the Bay Delta Conservation Plan be noticed and open to the public? Why the secrecy if there is nothing to hide?”