The San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary and Restore the Delta are at critical junctures. Pivotal decisions are now being made: flood control to the Delta tunnel, managing and mitigating harmful algal blooms, and whether “voluntary” agreements will mean less freshwater flow for the estuary. At the Federal level, attempts are being made to strip the estuary of additional water quality and environmental protections, making tunnel construction easier.
Will Restore the Delta be able to keep fighting to restore an estuary that serves all area residents, protects public health, restores fisheries and wildlife, and ensures a healthy agricultural economy? Or will representation be once again fragment between specific interests within the Delta and California water community as it was 15 years ago before the start of this campaign?
Despite COVID-19 and the long list of logistical and financial challenges, Restore the Delta has managed to work in key areas during 2020. We have:
- Tracked, reported, and made the public aware of the increase of Harmful Algal Blooms throughout the estuary;
- Organized advocates to represent the region at Delta tunnel scoping meetings with facts and critical storytelling tools;
- Represented the community robustly at the Stakeholder Engagement Committee for the design and construction of the tunnel, asking hard questions around mitigation, water quality, costs in relation to water availability, and air quality protection for Delta communities;
- Taken action to protect water quality and quantity through litigation over the operation of the State Water Project, the Central Valley Project, and the Department of Water Resources for premature contract validation for the Delta tunnel;
- Advocated through public process work for improved and equitable flood planning for all communities in the Delta;
- Advocated and succeeded at securing for proper air quality monitoring in regard to harmful algal blooms;
- Trained dozens of area youth on water quality and air quality impacts from present management of the Delta and the proposed tunnel project (HABs cause air pollution);
- Advocated and moved the needle with the Delta Stewardship Council toward improved social science investigation of how water projects impact Delta communities economically, socially, and culturally;
- Conducted an extensive webinar series to educate the public on present Delta processes, climate change data, the history or water project operations, and the history of Delta communities.
We are proud of these accomplishments (and others not listed) by our stressed, small organization during a global pandemic.
However, to continue with our plans to train youth science advocates to become ambassadors for the Delta, and to continue representing the region in these numerous processes we need financial stabilization. Small grants have bridged the gaps, but half of our small staff has waited weeks at times to be, with some still waiting to be paid presently; and we have closed our small office which could not be used safely to cut expenses. The bottom-line is that there is nothing left to cut. The question is whether we continue.
The team at Restore the Delta works with heart and intellect to advocate for the best policies for the restoration of the estuary and for the physical and economic protection of the region’s people. The pandemic cannot become the excuse for robbing the estuary of its water, building the Delta tunnel, or leaving vulnerable communities to flood. With attempts at a water grab during the lame duck session of Congress, continue pressure from water contractors for voluntary agreements to lessen Delta flows, and tunnel planning, 2021 will require sharp advocacy and representation for Delta communities.
We know the economy is tight for everyone; we also know how generous our supporters have been with us over the years. We hope that you can continue to support our work and advocacy for the future of the estuary.
You can donate here, or mail a check along with this form to 509 E Main St, Stockton, CA 95202.
We hope you and your families are safe, well, and maintaining heart and humor during this most challenging year. We wish you peace, joy, and good health through the holiday and into 2021.
Yours in service,