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Trump’s California Water Grab. Where is Newsom?

For Immediate Release: 2/19/2020

Contact: Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta, 209-479-2053, [email protected]

Stockton, CA – President Trump visits Bakersfield today to tout his accomplishments for Big Ag. Trump delivers on pledge for wealthy California farmers – AP 2/19/20

Meanwhile, SF Bay-Delta residents worry governor Newsom is doing little to defend the water flows that decades of science have shown is required to keep the fish and communities of the West Coast’s largest estuary alive and healthy.

As a leader in the movement that defeated Governor Brown’s Twin Tunnels proposal, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta recently reflected on her organization’s attempts to work with the new governor.

Here are excerpts from her statement. Read the full blog here.

The Trump-Newsom, Newsom-Trump Water Plan for the Delta
– Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla

The Newsom administration is now offering a series of “voluntary agreements” with inadequate Delta flows for fisheries and healthy waterways. Westlands’ threats to walk from negotiations seem to have worked on the Governor as he has yet to file a promised lawsuit against the Trump administration over bogus science in the new Delta fish biological opinion….

At Restore the Delta, we feel whiplashed. We kept our word to work with the administration by writing reports, attending meetings, and making solid, fact-based recommendations through numerous processes. The Newsom Administrations claims great pride in working with Delta communities, but seems to pat stakeholders on the head, without addressing and RESOLVING concerns or ACTING on Delta recommendations made by us, elected officials, or other environmental groups – like completing a solid water inventory before moving forward with planning a tunnel – or creating a loading order for regional water projects and then determining if a tunnel is needed and at what size – or increasing flows through the Delta and into the Bay to restore water quality and protect species which the best available science deems as necessary….

The Governor has not met with the Delta environmental justice community. But he poses for photos with Westlands farmer John Harris, who has been instrumental in crafting bad Delta water policies with Senator Feinstein and the Trump Administration. Governor Newsom remains silent about the Westlands contract — a corrupt Federal taxpayer giveaway – that will result in San Joaquin Valley farm towns paying even higher rates for polluted drinking water for bond repayments. His administration is pushing forward a voluntary agreement that will bring State Water Project operations in alignment with a bad federal standard, and they are wrapping it up in a feel-good green bow of faux environmentalism and the rhetoric of concern. He will have participating parties without having impacted parties from the Delta in the room for negotiations…. 

We will not go quietly. We will fight the Governor’s status quo water plan – a plan that has been recirculated every five years by every governor for the last 40 years – until he gets it right by bringing supply and demand into balance in a way that is equitable for the majority of the state, and not just special interests. To end the old binaries, the Delta must be protected while improving regional water supplies. That means protection of water quality for the Delta’s people….

We did the work, and we attempted to meet Governor Newsom halfway. He didn’t keep his word to the Delta.