Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla

Delta Flows: Recall Politics? No Thanks. The SF Bay-Delta keeps losing either way

Today’s blog breaks my heart. Why? Because Restore the Delta is focused on water quality issues, flood control issues, future planning, and training the next generation of local water experts – for that is where hope exists.  We are focused on the future because in some ways we have become very cynical about any positive meaningful change to Delta management presently — from the lack of care at the highest levels of government to local pockets of Delta communities that will not acknowledge the deterioration of the estuary before their eyes. Our Delta faces many threats At all levels, we see leaders who want what they want from the estuary: unrestricted water exports; a destructive mega-tunnel; discharge of pollutants without regulatory oversight; delisting [...]

Delta Flows: Sexism at MWD is No Surprise for Delta Activists

By: Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla The Los Angeles Times recently reported that the Los Angeles City Council is threatening to cut ties with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California over the dozens of sexual harassment complaints filed by women and LGBTQ employees. Now Los Angeles union local AFSCME1902 has joined Southern California legislators asking for a full audit of the sexual harassment complaints filed at MWD. We concur. This audit must happen. Women and members of the LGBTQ community are not to be harassed, intimidated, and scared to work for a living, at a public agency. The employees written about in these news accounts were full of pride working for a system that delivered clean water to the community it served – but [...]

DELTA FLOWS: What’s missing in the new Delta Tunnel price tag?

– Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta At the August 20, 2020 Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority meeting, it was revealed that the proposed Delta tunnel would cost $15.9 billion for construction and that $400 million would be budgeted to mitigate impacts resulting from construction.  Discussion of immediate planning expenses and tunnel costs occurred after comments from Restore the Delta and Local Agencies of the North Delta (LAND) insisting on transparency. We collectively wanted to know about the costs of the project and Delta tunnel planning paid for in advance by the Department of Water Resources and indicated that these items had to be made understandable to the public.  For comparison, let’s remember that Governor Brown’s California WaterFix (the two tunnel project) [...]

Delta Flows: Harmful Algal Blooms in the Delta are a Pandemic

by Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla In 2007, we produced our first Delta Flows newsletter and began our advocacy for increased flows to improve water quality for the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary.  While tunnel plans come and go (and come back again), we still have not been able to persuade the state that freshwater flows for the estuary aren’t just what is needed for restoring an idealized natural world, protecting certain types of fish, or saving Delta farms – freshwater flows are life. In 2019, Restore the Delta, as a leader of the Stockton Environmental Justice Initiative, made clear to California officials the real threat to public health and the health of the estuary itself as a result of proliferating harmful algal blooms (HABs). [...]

Delta Flows: California water during national crisis (Part 2)

by Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director Last week, the number one box office hit was in the USA was “Jurassic Park” because drive-ins were the only theaters open during the pandemic. Jurassic Park contains some great science quotes that can be applied to efforts by the State Water Contractors, the Design Construction Authority, the Department of Water Resources and the Newsom Administration around the pursuit of a Delta tunnel and overall California water management.  “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” The question the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the Design Construction Authority have been busy trying to answer in the affirmative is whether scientists (really engineers) could figure [...]

Delta Flows: California water during national crisis (Part 1)

by Executive Director Barbara Barrigan-ParrillaThis is the hardest, most emotionally difficult blog, I have written for Restore the Delta in our 14-year history. How do we talk about the vital work that we do and what is happening in California water against the context of what is happening in America:  a pandemic, a crisis in governance, and the exposure of systemic racism that led to the murder of George Floyd and too many Americans of color over the last 30 years?  How do we have this discussion without overreaching from our areas of expertise and our mission, while showing empathy, respect, and support for so many people suffering in our community, the state, and our nation? When people of color in our communities [...]

Delta Flows: Transparency Does Not Occur By Declaring Transparency; It Takes Intentional Action

By: Barbara Barrigan-ParrillaThis Delta Flows is brief.  This is what is happening in state and federal water processes during COVID19. We are not pleased with what we are seeing and hearing. But we don’t want to run alerts on our Governor who has more than a full plate, and who is handling the pandemic admirably.  We, however, believe that the California Natural Resources Department and the Department of Water Resources need to hear from all of us, as well as our US Senators and Congressional Representatives.  They need to know what the public expects from them during the pandemic and to understand that transparency is not just a buzzword.  1) DWR will not suspend public processes around tunnel planning as we respectfully demanded.  Please remember [...]

Delta Flows: The Trump-Newsom, Newsom-Trump Water Plan for the Delta

By our Executive Director, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla One of Restore the Delta’s primary functions has been to rally people to advocate for comprehensive policies that would be protective of water quality and quantity for the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary.For years, meeting that objective included fighting the Schwarzenegger and Brown Administrations’ various conveyance projects ending with the twin tunnels.A Moment of Hope and Collaboration During the last year, with a brief respite in tunnel planning, we were able to begin working on plans for greater overall environmental protections for the region. We created a comprehensive analysis of the flood threat to the Delta and made sound, researched recommendations to the Newsom Administration about next steps for dealing with climate change impacts manifesting [...]

Delta Flows: The Political Science of Bernhardt’s Biological Opinions

By Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla Governor Gavin Newsom has never been one to hesitate expressing his values in opposition to President Trump. However, as noted by Politico, and plenty of California water policy folks, there was no direct response from the Governor to the Trump administration biological opinions filled with species protection and water quality rollbacks and miscalculations. Instead, we heard from the California Natural Resources Agency, “We will evaluate the federal government’s proposal, but will continue to push back if it does not reflect our values.” Shouldn’t the Newsom administration be ready by now to articulate their sincere values regarding Delta management? And more importantly, shouldn’t the Newsom administration be ready to act on their water values as forcefully as they do [...]

Delta Flows: A Day For California History Books. But What’s Next?

When scholars of California history and California water review the decisions our state leaders made to plan for the impacts from climate change, they will look back at May 2, 2019 as the pivotal date in our state’s water planning processes.  As the Department of Water Resources, under Governor Newsom’s direction, rescinded permits for California WaterFix from the State Water Resources Control Board, a decision was made to begin new water planning processes with the intention to make California water resilient in the decades ahead, while providing better protections for the Delta and Delta communities. While the vast majority of our followers recognize that the decision to end the twin tunnels is a huge victory for the Delta and the [...]