More on the BDCP July 17 Meeting

“Stop the Tunnel” protesters are being seen in many press article pictures covering the BDCP meeting. A very comprehensive article released yesterday in Maven’s Notebook.

Protesters outside the meeting – view Maven’s Notebook to view more photos

Here, Maven provides an extensive transcript of the first half of the meeting. Sections I find enlightening are Jason Peltier’s (Westlands Water District representative) viewpoints. He totally ignores that fact that because water contracts in California are for 2 to 5 times the amount of water in the estuary and that Westlands only has the lowest tier rights, of course they will NEVER get 100%. He ignores the fact is that his area’s farmers allocations will run from 0% (dry years like 2013) up to maybe 60% of their full contracts (very wet years). I’m not sure what the original concept was when these contracts were issued but if you have the lowest level rights for excess water and your contract is for more water than exists, it seems irresponsible to plan for 100% and assume that there will never be a drought or dry water years. Yet his viewpoint is that their contracts are being “cut … reallocated or reserved to the environment.” As long as there is no acceptance that the amount of water in the Delta is finite, they will obviously continue to take more and more (as they have done the past 20 years increasing almond acreage) until there is no water left.

Related is today’s article that water use is skyrocketing by Tehachapi County farmers due to increased agricultural footprint in that area: Tehachapi News “Water Use Skyrockets”. It seems so irresponsible to continue to expand agricultural acreage in the Central Valley when there already is not enough water in the Delta for the acreage expansions from over the past 10-20 years. Which circles back to the clear fact that any plan needs to start with clarity about how much water is needed to maintain a healthy Delta (i.e., the “Delta Flows”) versus can be exported (the “excess”) and plan from there.

I always find comments by Melinda Terry, North Delta Water Agency worthwhile in these BDCP meetings. In Maven’s Notebook, read Melinda Terry’s comments during the BDCP meeting about the “Funding and Benefits Assumptions” and especially further down under “Questions and Answers Part 2 – Equal Time for Delta Impacts”. Take time to read everything Melinda Terry says there because she points out the real negative impacts that will occur from the construction destruction up and down the Delta to communities, farmers and boating which the BDCP is ignoring.

I also always appreciate Bob Wright, Friends of the River’s comments: “ … This is simply not a permittable project under the endangered species act. To say that taking those kinds of quantities of fresh water away from those fish, including the winter and spring run Chinook salmon, would not adversely modify their critical habitat does not pass the laugh out loud test. … “ Plus Dr. Jeff Michaels, UOP, always provides logical economic input and takes the BDCP to task: “… without a cost allocation, how can you evaluate financial feasibility?” And Dr. Michaels questioned why the tunnel alternative was chosen when “… the through-Delta alternative performed better for all the fish species, which is what this is supposed to be about.”

Maven’s report quits before the great comments by the fellow in the yellow shirt from the American River who tells Jason Peltier to stop saying it’s “between fish and farmers” because the truth is that it’s “people versus people” and his other interesting remarks including that it’s real people, communities, farmers in the Delta are being affected, not just fish. Mike McCleery, Discovery Bay, commented on how from his experience in the commercial sector, the BDCP’s low return-on-investment even before inflation and overruns makes it an unreasonable project to pursue from a financial standpoint; how no Delta levee has ever fallen down during an earthquake, even in 1906; and asked why Dr. Pyke’s proposed newer technology of permeable layers could not be used at Clifton Court Forebay to protect fish to allow continuance of the current through-Delta option rather than add any new tunnels. Michael Brodsky, STCDA Legal Council, caught the panel in a previous misstatement: their claim that environmental protection would be available even after a take permit was issued because the permit could be withdrawn later if the agencies did not manage pumping operations effectively and that permits have been withdrawn in the past. Brodsky’s research revealed that according to Fish & Game, no take permit has ever been revoked in California and the example stated at the previous BDCP meeting was erroneous. Brodsky also re-iterated and expanded on his objection to the BDCP “adaptive management” structure and why it cannot protect the co-equal goals as long as water contractors like Peltier have veto power. From Peltier’s statements made earlier in the meeting Peltier clearly does not believe that fish need fresh water. Thus the logical assumption is that Westlands would always use its veto power along every step of the process which would negate any objections made by Fish & Game or others trying to protect the salmon.

Webcast of the entire meeting.

Earlier Press pixs about the protest:
Original Channel 3 write-up and video:

A bad day at the office for Jason Peltier greeted by protesters outside the BDCP Meeting (includes video):

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