The first seven months of 2022 have been action packed at Restore the Delta. In fact, we feel as if we have completed two years of work in half a year, and there is plenty more coming our way.
Drought conditions and Delta water management mistakes continue to take a toll on the Delta, but we are pushing ahead to help correct these conditions.
Restore the Delta and several coalition partners, represented by Stanford Law Clinic, continue to push the State Water Resources Control Board to expedite competition of the Bay-Delta Plan – rather than leaving water planning to abstract “blocks of water” as part of the voluntary agreement process. While the Board continues to ignore our requests, we are exhausting every last administrative process so as to take next steps as needed through all federal and legal processes available to move completion and implementation of the Bay-Delta Plan forward.
As harmful algal blooms have resurfaced throughout the Delta, fish mortality increases, and additional drought barriers will be placed soon in the North Delta, we must correct the State’s course in terms of long-term Delta watershed management. We are no longer experiencing simple drought. Aridification, the gradual change of a region from a wetter to a drier climate, is taking place and we cannot allow such a change to become the excuse for writing off the water needs of the estuary or our communities.
Protecting Delta water quality and quantity is more important than ever because, as we have learned in recent collaborative science processes, cyanotoxins from harmful algal blooms proliferate with warmer water temperatures, and attach to particulate matter (air pollution), traveling miles and posing greater health risks to Delta populations than we previously understood. Our data collection program is key to dealing with this new threat to the health of the estuary because we cannot mitigate the causes of harmful algal blooms without understanding the causes and tracking their increased occurrence.
On the other side of the water management coin, planning for increased flood threat in the Delta is also taking on greater significance. One out of five Kindergartners presently living in the five Delta counties is expected to be impacted by at least one major flood in their lifetime as Sierra snowpack diminishes in California and large-scale winter rainstorms become the norm. How we capture rain in floodplains and through stormwater systems not only has the potential to protect our water supplies, but can also spare downstream Delta communities from this increased flood threat. Expanding our advocacy for proper flood management of Delta communities is essential for protecting the future for our children and grandchildren.
To our disappointment, while we are striving to work on drought and flood planning for the future, and in science-based processes to correct water quality concerns, we must yet again engage in responding to an environmental impact report for the Delta tunnel. The Delta tunnel does nothing to solve our concerns around drought and flood impacts within the Delta. Processes to date have failed to address our significant concerns around these issues, or around air pollution impacts related to tunnel construction. With aridification already occurring in California, the Delta tunnel simply does not pencil out. Thus, we will continue to engage in processes to vigorously oppose the project – especially because the State has once again failed to implement a protective Bay-Delta Plan first – in order to determine how much water the tunnel could actually deliver.
This is why we are in a critical moment at Restore the Delta:
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 are, therefore, asking for your continued financial support.
Costs for continuing with our work have skyrocketed. From ensuring that we have enough protective gear for staff and interns testing toxic waters, to needing website and technology updates, to ensuring that our climate water advocates and young organizers are paid a fair (not get rich) wage, to rising insurance costs, office security, rent, and travel costs — all of our expenses have increased significantly. In order for us to build robust programs that will protect the estuary and communities for future generations, we need help augmenting grant funding which we are pursuing rigorously.
Restore the Delta is now majority staffed by young professionals and interns thirty-years-old and under. We have succeeded unlike any other conservation/community organization in ensuring that we are building long term capacity for the next generation to lead on Delta and California water management issues. We are working our succession plan every day, and we are inspired by the intelligence, creativity, care, and sense of humanity exhibited by each member of our staff as they create new community presentations, meet with government officials, engage with community, and participate in related science processes with numerous institutions. They understand water history and the future, and they have the courage to stand up for what is right for the Delta and California’s water future. To put it simply, the kids are more than alright.
To change the course of Delta history, we are continuing with our young team to move beyond holding the line against bad ideas like “blocks of water,” when rivers should flow naturally, and a tunnel that will mostly run dry. We must insist, show up, and push forward for all related government processes from water and climate planning to proper infrastructure investment dialogues in order to restore the health of the estuary in a changing climate, and to protect the region’s people, and enhance their lives, along the way.
Climate change cannot become excuses for robbing the estuary of its water, building the Delta tunnel, or leaving vulnerable communities to flood. The people of the Delta deserve an equal future of environmental and economic health as the other regions of California.
We appreciate the continued support from so many of you, and we hope that you can support our work going forward. We believe the best defense for the Delta, is a strong team working the offense for a better future. You can donate here, or mail a check along with this form to 515 E Main St, Stockton, CA 95202.
Yours in service,