As we reflect on all that has happened regarding government planning and initiatives for the Delta in 2019, we think it is time to reflect on what has brought about positive social, economic, and environmental change in the history of the United States. Successful movements include tactics centered on protest, litigation, legislation, and negotiation. During Restore the Delta’s history fourteen-year history, good governance of the Delta and sustainable water policies to lessen dependence on the Delta have been our goals from which we have never strayed. We switch tactics as necessary so that we can advance our goal of a healthy, restored San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary for all of California. But our commitment to saving the Delta so that today’s youth can reclaim and celebrate their natural heritage, is stronger than ever.
The twin tunnels are dead. Yet, state, and possibly federal permits, will be filed for a single tunnel with government agencies around the time that you are reading this letter. The new tunnel would export 6000 cubic-foot-per-second of water. It would be the size of a six-story building, which is larger than one of the previously proposed twin tunnels. A fully completed tunnel plan and environmental impact report will be released in 2021.
This is why we are asking for your year-end gift to sustain our efforts in 2020. You can donate by clicking here, or by mailing us a check to 925 N Yosemite St, Unit 3, Stockton, CA 95203. Our Federal tax ID is 27-4179166 and all donations are tax deductible.
A federal water plan has also advanced that will export hundreds of thousands of acre-feet of additional water from the Delta to agricultural water districts with outsized political influence within the Central Valley Project, while a very similar California water pumping plan for Metropolitan Water District and Kern County Water Agency has been released for public comment. Despite the State of California’s plan to sue the Federal Government over the federal plan, both plans fail to reduce reliance on the Delta, as required by law, and will contribute to further denigrated water quality and quantity in the estuary.
With a weakening of water quality and fishery protections, and proposed voluntary agreements to further reduce flows into the Delta, the stage, we fear, is being set for a new, large single tunnel to be filled to capacity, despite the science-driven, economically-sound, and environmentally-just laws that we have relied on to protect the Delta for decades. Because our cause has been honest, just, and factual those who want to take the water are pushing both federal and state decision makers to move the goal posts, to change laws to facilitate a water transfer market that will further enrich their members. The tunnel, in term of its size and scope, along with the effort to gut protective laws, will facilitate a water market system that will ignore the water needs of the estuary. These new plans for the Delta will mean that millions of Californians will lose access to water of good quality, or will pay for water they will never see.
During 2019, we kept our word and sought to work with the Newsom Administration to advance an assortment of water solutions first that would eliminate the need for a Delta tunnel. We are proud that we made this good faith effort, but we are not satisfied with the response to our efforts. We produced an extensive report for managing the Delta for climate change, advanced a coalition response for a large- scale water portfolio to reduce reliance on the Delta while meeting water needs for people throughout the state, and engaged in numerous meetings to facilitate discussion of these issues. Opening the door to working with the Delta community was a good first step for the Newsom Administration. But the failure to incorporate a reasonable number of our broad coalition’s ideas as part of a statewide solution, including completing and releasing a water inventory, and developing a water portfolio first before advancing a single tunnel plan, will not render sustainable solutions.
We also cannot forget the permanent contract for water deliveries that Westlands Water District is pursuing at the environmental expense of the Delta. They will use such a contract to push for unsustainable exports year after year as climate change reduces freshwater flow into the Delta watershed.
So what does this all mean for 2020?
It means that in addition to negotiation when possible without sacrificing our values, we will continue to embark on protest, litigation, and legislative remedies to protect the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary from a bad tunnel plan and water quality rollbacks. While we agree with Governor Newsom that the old binaries around water need to end, the water wars cannot end with victory only for the politically connected. California residents cannot pay the price financially and environmentally for the benefit of the few. We cannot allow our water systems to mirror what has happened to California’s electricity grid through regulatory capture of state agencies. We cannot let the Delta fail.
This is why we are asking for a year-end gift to sustain our efforts into 2020. The support we hear daily from our members for our cause – a restored San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary for all Californians along with a sustainable California water plan – has kept us motivated throughout a complicated, and at times difficult, year. We are humbled by your ongoing financial support and constant well wishes.
Your continued sustaining financial support for 2020 will enable us to make sure that State and Federal Government understand how united Californians are around inclusive, water management decision making principles, and the protection of our public trust resources, especially the San Francisco Bay- Delta estuary.
We wish you and your family, peace, good health, and prosperity for 2020. This year, we are also closing 2019 with a call to action for 2020. We hope that you have fun and relaxing holidays with your loved ones. We then hope that you are ready to roll up your sleeves and fight with us for the Delta and for California’s water future. Let’s make 2020 about lasting positive results for the Delta.Happiest of holidays to you and yours,
Restore the Delta