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Land grab in the works

It will come as no surprise to anyone who has been observing the arrogance of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan’s Potentially Regulated Entities (PREs) that they don’t intend to acquire land for habitat restoration using willing sellers. Restore the Delta has learned that the BDCP is looking at eminent domain as the process to achieve habitat goals.

They’d have trouble paying for what they want to take

Back in March of 2009, the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority issued revenue notes to fund the Delta Habitat Conservation and Conveyance Program (DHCCP) Development Project.  The DHCCP is the entity that is supposed to assess potential habitat restoration and water conveyance options for the BDCP and conduct an environmental review. Fitch Ratings, a global rating agency that evaluates and rates agencies that issue bonds, said this about the March 2009 bond issue:  “Financial strength is derived from the obligor’s, the Westlands Water District (WWD, or the district), credit quality (revenue bonds rated ‘A’ by Fitch Ratings), based on satisfactory historical financial operations and high commodity value.” Fitch Ratings also said, “The value of the WWD’s entitlement to a [...]

Not good for your investment portfolio

Last week, the New York Times reported on a new study warning of the risk of municipal bonds that finance water supply. The study is one of the first to assess the potential impact of water shortages on the municipal bond market. (Read the NY Times report click here) According to the study, credit ratings do not adequately reflect the growing risks of water shortages and legal battles over water supplies. When the risks become apparent, investors may see bond values drop. And water and electric utilities may find it more expensive to raise money. The Times article (“Water Scarcity a Bond Risk, Study Warns”) says, “Among the seven cities and agencies examined in the report, Los Angeles and Atlanta [...]

So here’s where things stand

So export water contractors plan to seize Delta land to create a combination of habitat and infrastructure so complicated that they can’t even figure out how to describe it in a proper public project description. Their plan to pay for this hodgepodge includes issuing bonds based on a degree of water supply availability and stability that no amount of infrastructure can possibly guarantee. And they’re going to try to persuade their ratepayers to pay for the bonds and bond investors to accept the risk. The greater the risk, the higher the returns to investors, and the higher the cost to ratepayers. These are the kinds of fantasies that brought us the savings and loan debacle, Enron, the foreclosure crisis, and [...]

On the bright side, more Bass Tournament thank-yous, and some congratulations

Restore the Delta thanks the following sponsors who helped with the Bass Tournament benefit on October 17: • BlackDog Baits • Mel Cotton’s Sporting Goods of San Jose • Snagproof Lures • The Fly Shop in Redding • Lamiglass • Mike Keopke/Pure Fishing • Simms(John Sherman) • Dan Blanton • Roger Stegal (ABA TD scales) • John Rohmer • Quantum Fishing • Marty Martinez (sound system) • Russo’s Marina and staff And the winners: • Kickboater/Float Tube Division – Scott Rouhier……3.fish..4.73 lbs. • Fly Division – Geg Holland/Matt Green…………5..fish ..6.43 lbs. • Standard Gear Division – Dan & Travis Fontes…………….5.fish…11.26 lbs. A huge thank you to all 35 entrants in this tournament to help us boost awareness of the threats [...]

Never mind the NHA. Keep your eye on the Department of Interior.

We now know something about what has been going on the BDCP Principals’ meetings, (which were not “secret” but which anybody present had to promise not to talk about).We reported on October 10 that Lester Snow has said that decision-making about the BDCP would take place in public meetings. Forget that.Last week Interior Secretary Salazar met with the State and the Principals.  His deputy, David Hayes, said that Delta conveyance is necessary and that “short term” protections and restoration of the Delta should be weakened.   We shouldn’t be surprised at this position, considering that Hayes was formerly an attorney with a firm that represented the Metropolitan Water District.  Before that, he was one of the architects of the failed Cal Fed [...]

So what do Delta Counties do?

It is our understanding that representatives from the Five Delta Counties participated in this October 15th meeting in Tracy with Salazar and Hayes, either in person or on the phone. We have also heard that the Five Delta Counties have to decide if they as a group or individually want to participate in the BDCP discussions with the caveat that they cannot offer input and cannot vote.Restore the Delta staff certainly understands that local government entities have a responsibility to interact with Federal and State officials in order to represent local communities. And in the case of these BDCP meetings, having the Five Delta Counties gathering information is better than having local government not knowing what is happening.But, Restore the [...]

More contempt for science?

The Environmental Water Caucus (EWC) gave the Delta Stewardship Council (DSC) recommendations for meeting California’s water needs without building a canunnel, and – no surprise – the BDCP folks didn’t like those recommendations.Byron Buck, Executive Director of the State and Federal Contractors Water Agency, fired off a letter to Phil Isenberg taking issue with the recommendations, which are taken from EWC’s publication “California Water Solutions Now.”EWC recommendations include aggressive statewide conservation, reductions in Delta pumping, and retirement of toxic farmlands.  Byron Buck objected to the “emotional pejorative” of referring to lands on the west side as “toxic.”“The reality,” he said, “is that the West Side Drainage Plan . . . has halved the salt and selenium loads to the Delta [...]

Bethel Island Bass Tournament benefits the Delta

The first rain of the season didn’t keep some dedicated bass fishermen from turning out last Sunday for a Bass Tournament at Russo’s Marina benefiting Restore the Delta and the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA).   The largest fish was caught by the youngest fisherman.  Thanks to all those who donated raffle items, including Steve Herringer of Heringer Wines.  And a special thanks to Michael Frost, Bobby Barrack, Russo’s Marina, and Cooch Cuchera for organizing the event.  In our next issue, we will have a special section on the good works of our tournament sponsors and winners.

Give the Delta Protection Commission your input

DPC Primary Zone Study Updates, all from 6-8 p.m.Wednesday, November 3, BrentwoodThursday, November 4, ThorntonTuesday, November 9, Rio VistaDPC Economic Sustainability Plan ForumsMonday, November 8, Oakley, 9-10:30 a.m.Wednesday, November 10, West Lodi/North Stockton, 6-8 p.m.Monday, November 15, Walnut Grove, 6-8 p.m.Tuesday, November 16, Clarksburg, 6-8 p.m.See DPC website for details  http://www.delta.ca.gov/