Restore the Delta’s Response to Congressman Jim Costa’s call to restrict the Endangered Species Act
By Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta
“Congressman Jim Costa’s call to restrict the Endangered Species Act gets to the heart of the problem with current management of the Delta, as well as Governor Brown’s Bay Delta Conservation Plan. Five times more in water rights has been promised to water takers than what exists in the watershed. Rep. Costa’s solution is to simply further deprive the largest estuary on the Pacific Coast of the Americas, the Delta and the San Francisco Bay, of the water it needs to protect salmon, halibut, crab, and anchovy fisheries. Governor Brown’s plan is to build twin tunnels to send the best water to water takers and to dress the plan up as a conservation plan. In both instances, we see that our state’s political leaders do not have the courage to deal with the fact that we in California are pushing up against hard limits on our water resources.
“More than 50% of the Delta’s fresh water has been exported for years now, leading to the crisis with Delta fisheries. Taking more water from the system, through the existing pumps or through Brown’s pipes, will deal the final death blow to the Delta.
“It is clear from his statement that Rep. Costa, like his Central Valley Congressional Colleagues and the Brown administration, has no regard for the water quality and quantity needs to support the 500,000 acres of prime Delta farmland which is farmed by California’s oldest family farms. Delta farms produce a much wider array of produce to feed Californians than the corporate agribusiness growers on the Westside of the San Joaquin Valley who take 2/3 of the Delta’s fresh water supply each year to grow almonds to ship to China. Depriving Delta farmers of the flows they need, through unlimited exports at the current pumps or Brown’s tunnels, will lead to the largest transfer of private wealth in the history of California as the corporate farm economy will be propped up at the expense of the Delta family farm economy.
“There is a better solution for California’s water crisis. Reduce water exports from the Delta to protect Delta and coastal fisheries and farms; fix Delta levees so that the Delta can continue to share a sustainable water yield; fix the existing pumps so that fish populations can be better protected; and, most importantly, invest public dollars in a myriad of local water projects throughout California so that we can make more water to meet our many needs.”