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We must be doing something right

Restore the Delta has gotten the attention of the deceptively-named Coalition for a Sustainable Delta, which has published a newsletter, “Delta Watch,” accusing us of being a front group for developers out to pave over the Delta for profit.

This is really ironic because the Coalition for a Sustainable Delta is being bankrolled by Beverly Hills billionaire Stewart Resnick, whose Paramount Farms controls the Kern Water Bank. That’s where a lot of Delta water ends up, changing hands and making money for agri-business and water brokers. The Coalition for a Sustainable Delta is interested only in sustaining high levels of water exports used to grow permanent crops on arid land or to support housing and commercial development in what is essentially desert.

The Coalition for a Sustainable Delta is a big supporter of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, claiming that it will restore habitat in the Delta. This is the Coalition that focuses on factors such as urban runoff and striped bass predation as the causes of habitat decline in the Delta, ignoring the impact of excessive water diversions and of fish kills at the export pumps. They don’t seem to understand that we’ll never improve water quality for fish or people by reducing flows of fresh water through the Delta.

Business interests in the Delta region, including developers, understand that. That’s why they support our efforts to counter the misinformation coming from a tiny fraction of agribusinesses in the Southern San Joaquin Valley.

The Coalition for a Sustainable Delta is also accusing Delta locals of telling a “fish tale” when they say that the Peripheral Tunnels will suck the Delta dry. According to them, opponents of the tunnels are repeating this “hyperbolic accusation” at every public meeting.

Nonsense, says the Coalition. Government regulations like the Endangered Species Act would keep that from happening. “Regulatory restrictions ensure that [the pumps in the south Delta] almost never operate at full capacity.”

“Draining the Delta,” they assure us, ”cannot and will not happen.”

Tunnel opponents have a long way to go to reach the level of hyperbolic accusation achieved by the smelt-in-the-hand versus farm jobs crowd (which reached its apogee when big ag brought Sean Hannity to the San Joaquin Valley several years ago). Restore the Delta agrees that the peripheral tunnels will NOT suck the Delta dry. It won’t be dry because reductions in fresh water outflows will allow it to backfill with water from the San Francisco Bay. Salty, of course.

And don’t tell Delta folks that regulatory restrictions will keep the pumps from operating at full capacity whenever exporters want more water. History has shown us that we can’t count on that.

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