Spencer Fern is the Delta Science Coordinator for Restore the Delta. Spencer was born and raised in Stockton and spent his childhood living alongside Smith Canal where his family would take a boat out and enjoy the water life. He was introduced to Restore the Delta in high school where he got to work with National Geographic to take photos of the Bay and Delta to raise awareness for Delta conservation. Spencer received his degree in microbiology from California State University, Monterey Bay and he also went on exchange for a year to Stony Brook University in Long Island. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with friends and looks forward to the next time he can snowboard.
Spencer will head our Delta Science Program where we will conduct research for the purpose of identifying, abating, or eliminating sources of pollutants or hazards that affect either the environment or public health in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. He will also lead our Climate Water Advocate interns.
We’re very excited to welcome Spencer to the Restore the Delta team. Read below about the work that we plan to do in 2022.
Are you ready to change the course of Delta history? We are. And we hope that you will join us on this journey in 2022.
2021 has been quite an extraordinary year at Restore the Delta. We faced a year with extreme highs and lows – all to reach a place of greater stability and equilibrium — just in time for an anticipated year of hard work and program building in 2022.
We are in a critical moment.
The San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary, California water management, protection of the environment and its associated economies, and Delta community health are all at precarious points in terms of government processes, planning, and enforcement of the law.
We understand that the State will be moving forward with implementation of the first phase of the (imperfect) Bay-Delta Plan, which will require community oversight to ensure that rules and enforcement of standards are protective for the estuary and its communities. Unfortunately, the voluntary agreement process for the Sacramento River (the primary source of freshwater for the Delta) drags on, pushing aside state implementation of a completed Bay-Delta Plan that will heal the estuary and our communities. We believe that 2022 is the year to press our case and change this course once and for all. We must ask, how is the Delta being managed, and for whom?
The voluntary agreement process for the Sacramento River is part of a coordinated effort to supply the Delta Conveyance Project with as much water flow as possible. While Restore the Delta worked in good faith to represent the region in Delta tunnel planning, our concerns around solving water quality challenges that are essential for the life of the estuary and our communities were ignored by the Department of Water Resources. Their community presentations, thus far, show a project with worse operation plans than California WaterFix, the old twin tunnels. Community concerns around flood threat, harmful algal blooms, and drought management are routinely being ignored. When the state isn’t ignoring us, it is leading with efforts to undermine Stockton’s water right to divert a small percentage of drinking water from the Delta. Stockton’s Delta water intake facility was approved and permitted by the state and is essential for residents of disadvantaged communities. Yet, water exporters like Westlands Water District are showing up at hearings with state agencies to curtail drinking water for Stockton residents, while their thirst for Delta water goes unchecked. The same can be said of Metropolitan Water District of Southern California which is fully committed to the tunnel and voluntary agreement process.
In order to push back against these powerful anti-Delta interests and to change the course of Delta history once and for all, here is what we must accomplish in 2022:We need to perfect and expand our harmful algal bloom water quality tracking program. We have been awarded grant money to hire an entry-level scientist to train more interns and to collaborate with state agencies and other nonprofits to build a public tracking system. Testing, tracking, and understanding how HABs are formed will help us to mitigate and stop their expansion and protect water quality for all its uses.
We must continue training dozens of advocates to represent the region at the State Water Resources Control Board to ensure full implementation of a completed Bay-Delta Plan.Our advocates need to be made media-ready to tell the story of the Delta and why it is worthy of full restoration. From their good work, we will expand our media presence. Presently we reach 400,000 Californians monthly; we would like to reach 750,000 in 2022.
We have to prepare for the rushed 90-day comment period starting in summer, 2022 for the environmental impact report for the Delta tunnel. The Department of Water Resources’ strategy this time is to rush the project and to assert that all the negative impacts are the result of climate change (like they did with the drought this year) – rather than doing the hard work of creating Delta and California water management plans that make us resilient in the face of climate change. Monitoring the science applied in state water management decisions will also be essential for an informed response. We need to prepare our base to comment, send letters, and write to newspapers in a factual and informative manner.
We need to build stronger bridges with communities throughout California to support sustainable water programs throughout the state that solve the water needs of forgotten communities. Programs and projects that keep rivers and groundwater systems connected and healthy, provide clean drinking water for all people, use water efficiently for drought protection, keep water affordable for everyone, protect communities from flood, restore salmon runs, and aid in the restoration of the health of the Bay-Delta estuary need to be championed as a comprehensive alternative water package. We must lead and create in partnership a People’s Water Plan that will serve communities throughout California without sacrificing the Delta.In 2021, Restore the Delta rebuilt its foundation by training advocates to present community needs at key conferences, conducting water quality testing, reporting HABs findings to government partners, commenting on essential government processes, sharing our work with our expanded base of supporters, insisting on equity in representation in water planning processes, and holding to our core values that a healthy Delta and a sustainable California are the best future for all Californians.
To change the course of Delta history, however, we need to move beyond holding the line during the pandemic to expanding our programs as described above and expand our staff modestly to get the job done.
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. But we need more people on the team!
We are actively building solidarity with communities impacted by the state’s poor water management decisions and training Delta youth to become the next California water leaders.
Climate change and pandemic cannot become excuses for robbing the estuary of its water, building the Delta tunnel, or leaving vulnerable communities to flood. Recent attempts at a water grab through processes that leave out Delta communities show the need for an expanded network of sharp, trained advocates, with an eye on the future.
We appreciate the continued support from so many of you in what was a challenging year. We hope that you can continue to support our work and help us expand our advocacy for the future of the estuary. You can donate here, or mail a check along with this form to 515 E Main St, Stockton, CA 95202.
We hope you and your families are safe, well, and maintaining heart and humor during this most interesting year. We keep you all in our hearts and in our work. We wish you peace, joy, and good health through the holiday season and into 2022, where we look forward to seeing many of you again in person.
Yours in service,