BDCP Mislabels Facts as “Myths”

With more media attention turning against the BDCP, the BDCP spin doctors are trying to convince us that their purposes are nobel. On December 12th the BDCP came out with a new blog called “Correcting Stubborn Myths” by Karla Nemeth. Once again, they have issued a piece crafted by their marketing writers in LA designed to confuse the real issues and continue to spread their Newspeak. What they call “Myths” are Facts.

Here is our rebuttal to their rebuttal.

They say it’s Myth 1: No one knows how much water will be exported under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.

The facts: That’s not a myth, it’s true. The tunnels are large enough to export all of the fresh water from the Sacramento River. The water contractors “say” they won’t export that amount. When the Central Valley Project (CVP) export pumps were installed in the late 60’s when Pat Brown was governor, the water contractors “said” that they wouldn’t ramp up exports to a level that would cause environment damage. Yet they did.

There is nothing in the BDCP plan that truly limits the amount of water to be exported.

They say it’s Myth 2: This is a water grab for Southern California and San Joaquin Valley farmers.

The facts: Yes, this is a water grab by powerful corporate agribusiness interests on the westside of the Central Valley and powerful LA developers. California is the world’s leading producer of almonds and pistachios. The increase in almond exports are destroying the economies and the environment in Northern California. Almonds are a growing market worldwide, especially in Asia. California cannot afford to continue to ship unlimited amounts of water to desert farmlands in order to send nuts to the growing Asian markets for Corporate profit.

They say it’s Myth 3:  The BDCP will destroy the Delta’s environment.

The facts: That is not a myth, it is a fact. It’s simple. The current level of exporting has removed too much fresh water from the Delta according to the government agency reports. The new plan, to now remove water even before it can flow through the Delta, obviously will not improve the situation.

The Bay Institute/State Water Resources Control Board “Delta Flows” report in August 2010 recommended that the “fix” for the reverse flows in the Delta causing harm to fish is to reduce exports during dry periods. Instead the tunnels will reduce the flow through the Delta to a trickle – not enough for salmon to survive.

They say it’s Myth 4:  No one knows how much it will cost or who will pay for the BDCP.

The facts: It will cost much more than the current estimate. The stated “cost” has already gone up. They can’t claim to know how much it will end up costing the state in the long-run. This project is only ten percent designed. Plus big infrastructure projects in this state are known to end up costing significantly more than the initial estimate.

We know who will pay for it – the taxpayers. Currently the water contractors have not committed to paying their share. In fact, Westlands has not yet paid their costs for the Central Valley Project (CVP). Even if the water contractors were to step up and pay their share as proposed by the plan, taxpayers will also bear a proportion of the costs (even though the plan does nothing for urban users). Plus the big habitat and other environmental projects the BDCP “claims” will help the environment will only come to fruition if voted on as bonds – coming ahead of schools.

Bottom line: The costs will be huge, urban users will be paying to subsidize big corporate agribusiness profits and schools will suffer in order to fix the damage the water contractors have caused by years of over-exporting.

They say it’s Myth 5: There is no cost-benefit analysis and no evaluation of alternative options. They then list a long list of various reports and papers.

The facts: Their cost-benefit analyses are riddled with holes and inconsistencies. They under estimate the economic impacts on Delta farmers, commercial fishing interests, recreational Delta interests. They base their “cost benefits” on items that are actually negatives or, like the phony earthquake bogey, that are not real.

They say it’s Myth 6: No one knows how the BDCP operations will be governed.

The fact: The BDCP will operate using a new “adaptive management” approach to water operations. Will it work? No – because no matter what harm the tunnels might cause, it will be virtually impossible to curtail water exports once the tunnels start operation. Because the main backers of the tunnels, the water contractors who will receive water deliveries from the tunnel and sell the water to their urban and agricultural customers, have seats on key committees and can veto decisions they don’t like escalating the decision all the way to the Governor or the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. That can take years. Meanwhile the fish die.

They say it’s Myth 7: There is no clear science being used for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.

The facts: The clear science is that the current level of Delta Flow is too low and is impacting fish survival and Delta farming. To-date their habitat restoration projects have not proven to be effective. The key agencies including the Fish & Game have not signed off that the BDCP will help the salmon. California needs a plan that can guarantee improvement in the salmon runs and better water quality flowing through the Delta for in-Delta use.

They say it’s Myth 8: The BDCP process has not been transparent or open to the public.

The facts: This is not a myth. The BDCP has been planned in closed sessions, excluding Northern California legislatures. That is not the definition of transparent. Is it true that the public has been informed of these plans? Yes. Is it true that public input has been incorporated into the planning process? No – not in any significant or meaningful way.

If you want to read the BDCP Spin, here’s the BDCP’s version of “Correcting Stubborn Myths”.

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