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RTD: Westlands Permanent Water Contract Drafted “In the Shadows”

For Immediate Release: January 8, 2020Contact: Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, 209-479-2053, [email protected]  Stockton, CA – Restore the Delta has sent a second comment letter to the Bureau of Reclamation regarding the Westlands Prepayment Contract. This second letter focuses on the process by which the negotiation was conducted.   Here is our first comment letter dealing with the substance of the contract.   Restore the Delta’s executive director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla said:“Twenty interested parties were basically shut out of the contract negotiations process between Westlands Water District with the Bureau of Reclamation. Call-in numbers for the public were withheld. Ample notice of meetings was not provided. And legally published meeting notices were vague. As is customary with Westlands Water District, it appears that an effort was made to hide the development of the permanent water contract from the public. It is time for [...]

Restore the Delta Issues Comment Letters on Federal and State Water Operation Planning

 For Immediate Release: 1/6/2020 Contact: Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, 209-479-2053, [email protected] STOCKTON – Restore the Delta has filed comment letters on two major planning decisions that impact the health of the San Francisco Bay-Delta. The two processes are the Long Term Delta Operations plan for the State Water Contractors and the Westlands Water Contract. RTD sees problems with both state and federal plans as they impact the Delta.Neither plan:1. Restores the Delta 2. Includes planning for climate resiliency 3. Addresses the impacts of increasing water exports on Delta environmental justice communities 4. Considers the impacts of increased water exports and the spread of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs)  The first letter is comments to the California Department of Water Resources on the proposed [...]

In Case You Missed It: Newsom can’t have it both ways on California water

Editorial: Newsom can’t have it both ways on California water – Los Angeles Times, 12/24/19“But despite his Nov. 21 announcement, Newsom’s team still has not filed the water suit. That’s a bad sign, especially when paired with a proposal by the California Department of Water Resources to operate under new pumping rules that look remarkably like the Trump administration plan….” In other words, the large water agencies that supply agriculture and urban areas want Trump’s water and environmental policies to be Newsom’s water and environmental policies. Newsom has to decide whether he’s working for Californians — all of us who have a stake in our water and seek enough to quench our own thirst while keeping our fragile natural environment intact — [...]

Holiday ACTION ALERT to Save the Delta!

CALL Governor Newsom today and all through the holiday break! It is clear from recent media stories that Westlands Water District is aggressively pushing the Newsom Administration to not litigate against the Bernhardt/Trump Water Plan that will significantly increase pumping from the San Francisco Bay-Delta. Westlands is threatening to walk away from the “voluntary agreements” to set flow standards for the Delta.The problem is the voluntary agreements, from what we understand, will be worse than the Bay-Delta plan approved at the end of 2018. Little water is being allocated for Delta flows during the summer and fall months when Delta waterways are in peril from proliferating Harmful Algal Blooms. Not surprisingly, Senator Dianne Feinstein, as is customary, is working to help Westlands by putting her own pressure on [...]

ICYMI – Westlands Taking Hostages 12/19/19

Gov. Newsom’s threat to sue Trump upends peace talks on California water wars– SacBee Now, one of the nation’s most powerful farm irrigation districts says it will back out of the agreements completely if Newsom follows through with a pledge to sue President Donald Trump over a federal plan to pump more water to farmers from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the fragile estuary on Sacramento’s doorstep…. But Doug Obegi, a lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said Westlands’ threat to walk away from the talks — so soon after threatening to walk during the SB 1 debate — amounts to the farm-water agency trying to “bully the state into backing away from fighting the Trump administration.” “It does feel like we’ve [...]

ICYMI – 12/18/19 Trouble Brewing in D.C. over Bernhardt and Westlands…

California water politics complicate House panel’s oversightRoll Call, Washington D.C. 2/16/19Natural Resources chairman wants to investigate Interior secretary’s role in water allocation report that benefited a committee member’s district“Grijalva and Huffman want to know if Bernhardt was involved in changing the report’s findings. If the committee finds evidence of undue meddling in the science, that could result in future decision-making over California water supply getting overturned in federal court. Grijalva may need to issue subpoenas to complete that investigation.” Costa, Cox in pickle as House panel wants to probe Valley water boostSan Joaquin Valley Sun 2/17/19Prepping a probe to see if U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt influenced a plan to deliver far more water to the San Joaquin Valley, House [...]

Delta Flows: Sea Level Rise and The Delta

I was minding my own business, checking Twitter Tuesday morning, December 10, when I saw this article from the Washington Post: “Septupled”—I had to think about that for a moment. Greenland’s rate of ice melt increased by a factor of seven times, reported the Post. Since 1992, Greenland’s ice sheet lost just 33 billion tons to neighboring oceans, compared with 254 billion tons now—an acceleration of 7.6 times. The 89 scientists authoring the Greenland report stated: “The Greenland Ice Sheet holds enough water to raise mean global sea level by 7.4 [meters, or about 32 feet on average].” The current melting rate is enough to raise global sea levels vertically about 1 centimeter (about three-eighths of an inch), they found.  Greenland study co-author Andrew Shepherd of [...]

ALERT: Critical Hearing on State Water Project 12/12/19

SACRAMENTO HEARINGThursday 12/12/19 on Draft Environmental Impact Report for Long-Term Operation of the SWPThe California Department of Water Resources will hold one public hearing to request comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Report for long-term operation of the California State Water Project onDecember 12, 2019, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.LOCATIONZiggurat Building AuditoriumDepartment of General Services707 Third StreetWest Sacramento, California 95605 As we have written in past blogs, we fear this EIR allows for weakened fishery protections and more exports from the Delta.Comment Letter on Operations of Central Valley ProjectHere is a comment letter written by our coalition partners (we signed on) regarding the operation of the Central Valley Project. Read it to see our collective thinking on that process.

ICYMI 12/10/19 – Pumping Rules, Water Markets, Delta Fishery Management Hearing

First, two smart takes from Dr. Delta Water Economics, Jeff Michael of the University of the Pacific on Valley Economy Blog 12/9/19Water Supply Reliability Out, Endangered Species Killing Incentives In With New Federal/State Delta Pumping Rules“Water exporters are praising the new rules for their use of real-time operations, as opposed to the old rules that were “calendar based.”  It’s great PR messaging, but lousy policy.  The message appeals on the surface – new rules are modern and with high-tech real time adjustments, while the old-rules are primitive and based on calendars.  Good political messaging, but I would argue that it does not conform to the best available social science and policy design as it reduces water supply reliability and generates strong incentives [...]

RTD UPDATE: 12/06/19 Outcome of Selenium Drainage Permit Hearing at CVRWQB

Yesterday, Delta community members from Restore the Delta, Little Manila Rising, With Our Words, and LGBT+, Social Justice, and neighborhood groups, along with California Striped Bass, Save California Salmon, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, Sierra Club California, and Planning and Conservation League achieved a better outcome than anticipated at the Central Valley Regional Water Board. It was not perfect. A selenium discharge permit was granted; however, it will be reopened for reconsideration in two years when more data on selenium discharge becomes available. We got this better result because our coalition of speakers — teenagers to seventy-year-olds — had facts, history, and the truth on their side.Will groups appeal the decision? Most likely yes. However, we were heard and [...]