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Resuscitating the California Water Commission

The California Water Commission (CWC) is one of those State boards and commissions that could have sunsetted ten years ago and hardly anyone would have noticed. But it’s back, thanks to the 2009 Comprehensive Water Package.  The Legislation gave the CWC some responsibilities with respect to the water infrastructure envisioned by the water bond. The commissioners have been selected (see Dan Bacher’s article on the subject from last May http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/05/14/18647925.php), and six of the nine met for the first time on September 28.  (Two have appointments that are not yet in effect.)  Anthony Saracino (director of the California Water Program at the Nature Conservancy) chaired the proceedings.  Joe Del Bosque (member of AgSafe, California Farm Bureau, California Latino Water Coalition [...]

Big proposals from the Little Hoover Commission

The most interesting briefing came from Stuart Drown, executive director of the Little Hoover Commission.  The subject was the Little Hoover Commission’s August 2010 report, “Managing for Change: Modernizing California’s Water Governance.” This is a report that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention, which is surprising given what it recommends:  separating the State Water Project from DWR.  An independent, publicly-owned California Water Authority would operate the SWP and eventually merge it with the Central Valley Project. A new Department of Water Management would be created within the Natural Resources Agency. This Department would collect and monitor data on water use; manage supply and demand (with input from the Department of Fish and Game); administer and enforce water rights; implement the [...]

Drawing lines in the sand

Under the terms of last year’s legislation, the Delta Protection Commission (DPC) has until July 2011 to come up with an Economic Sustainability Plan for the Delta. The DPC has completed five community meetings to gather public input on the creation of the Sustainability Plan “framework” for the Delta.  The DPC held meetings in Courtland, Discovery Bay, Rio Vista, West Lodi/North Stockton, and Antioch. This was the first of a series of community meetings on the ESP, and attendance could have been better.  The commission knows they need more outreach, but like everything else related to governance under the Delta Reform Act, this process is on a tight schedule. Among the issues raised: You can’t talk about economic sustainability without [...]

What would a Delta National Heritage Area look like?

On October 6, the DPC will hold Public Meeting #2 of its Feasibility Study for  a National Heritage Area (NHA) in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.  The meeting will include small group discussion on potential interpretive themes for a Delta NHA. The meeting will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at D. H. White Elementary School, 500 Elm Way, Rio Vista. There is also breaking news of a new bill introduced by Senator Feinstein in regard to the creation of the NHA designation.  Restore the Delta will keep you posted in the weeks to come.

Salmon fishermen want to talk to farmers

In its new video, “Westlands, Salmon, & Reason,” Salmon Water Now (SWN) challenges farmers to meet with fishermen for a meaningful discussion about water, politics, and people.  You can see this new video at  http://www.vimeo.com/14982246 SWN got a lot of reaction, even from national media, to its last video, “Bullies of Westlands.”  Some reactions apparently came from farmers who are not part of Westlands.  Farmers throughout the state who know how to use resources wisely to grow crops should be distancing themselves from Westlands’ increasingly questionable tactics for manipulating water supplies. To access Salmon Water Now’s earlier videos, go to http://salmonwaternow.org/resources-for-media/videos

Principles of the Principals: The official story

Last week, we reported that a group of congressional representatives and state legislators representing the Delta had written a letter to Lester Snow and Ken Salazar asking for information about the meetings of BDCP “Delta Principals” that have been taking place out of public view. The letter asked for information such as who the principals are, how they were selected, and what the group’s role and objectives are. Resources Secretary Lester Snow has gotten back to Senator Lois Wolk about that. In a September 23 letter, Snow explains that these meetings among “principals who are signatories to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP)” are “a key procedural component of the public BDCP Steering Committee process to achieve the comprehensive strategy [...]

Principles of the Principals: The real story

In an interview earlier this week with the Central Valley Business Times, Jonas Minton of the Planning and Conservation League provided some background on this meeting of “principals.” Click here to read. Exporters undertook the BDCP process to secure water supplies.  Minton notes that we now have overwhelming scientific evidence that if the Bay-Delta Estuary is to be saved, we cannot continue exports at anything like their historic levels, let alone increase exports. According to Minton, “When confronted with those conclusions [that the estuary has had too much fresh water taken from it], the exporters just withdrew” from the public process. In these recent meetings, “They’ve been frantically trying to come up with some kind of agreement that could be [...]

It’s just for discussion. Really.

So what is in this 70-page document? For one thing, it includes material that never had a public hearing. “Although many of the concepts and descriptions within this context document have been discussed in the BDCP Steering Committee, others have not.  Therefore, information within this Document should not be attributed to the Steering Committee.”   The Steering Committee was just a forum for discussing issues. In other words, not really a STEERING committee. Among the water supply goals and objectives is this:  “Improve long-term water supplies  of the SWP and CVP to amounts consistent with those prior to the implementation of the most recent Biological Opinions through improved water conveyance.”  Someone says we can’t have that much water again?  Ignore them. [...]

But let’s not just be negative

By the way, the tunnel being proposed is 45 miles long and so wide in diameter (29 feet) that small planes could fly through it. Maybe the state could sponsor flight competitions to help pay the cost of building the thing.  They certainly won’t be able to use it full-time for conveying water.  Even Northern California can’t produce 15,000 cfs of water 24/7/365.And we can create jobs in California for pilots providing tunnel inspection services.

Earthquake risk: foolish solutions, wise solutions

In her latest blog post on The California Spigot,  Patricia McBroom reports on new USGS findings that the threat of Delta levee breaches in an earthquake is greater than anyone thought. The report is based on the response of Delta soils to ten small earthquakes (up to 4.2 magnitude) that have occurred in the East Bay since 2007. The USGS had monitors at eight places in the Delta, including four on Delta levees. Exporters who want to continue diverting water from the Delta will be using the new USGS report on earthquake threat to bolster their argument for isolated conveyance. That’s exactly the wrong message to take away from this report. Assuming it is true that earthquake threat to the [...]