They ask why we don’t trust them

Photo by Randy Pench/

Yesterday, Jerry Meral was quoted in a Sacramento Bee Viewpoint piece that Sacramento should not worry that the tunnels will harm their city: “Through the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, the state and federal water project operators offer [their] commitment to contribute to the recovery of threatened and endangered species,” he penned.

Here’s more proof about why we cannot trust those types of comments from people who want the water. Today’s Sacramento Bee discusses Owens Valley. The LA Municipal utility that oversees that valley “defend their stewardship” and say “We’re very protective of the valley. Some will imply anything we do is the source of all the problems. There are many more factors, weather probably being the biggest one.”

Doesn’t that sound just like BDCP representatives saying the current fish decline in the Delta is all about the drought, not excessive pumping?

How about this statement? “Utility officials also point to a recent track record of environmental gains. Seven years ago, DWP returned water to the lower Owens River, bringing a Lazarus-like, 62-mile-long stream corridor back to life. And it diverts significantly less water out of the valley than a generation ago.”

I don’t think Owens Valley is exactly healthy and blooming.

In addition, Owens Valley representatives of the tribes and people who live there say that Los Angeles had to be pushed to make those changes through years of legal and regulatory conflict. “It’s not voluntary,” said Daniel Pritchett, a board member of the Owens Valley Committee, an environmental nonprofit based in Bishop. “It’s only because they’ve been forced, kicking and screaming, by the courts.”

It sounds so all too similar to the current Delta battles. Jerry Meral and BDCP proponents say the tunnels are to provide “reliability” and point to the unreliability caused by environmental restrictions (i.e., the judges not letting them continue to pump until the salmon are extinct). But if they operated the system in a balanced way, with true concern for the co-equal goals which allows for excess water put to beneficial use while restoring the Delta ecosystem, the Delta would not be in the condition it currently is in.

The goal of the BDCP is to gain approval of a 40-year plan during which time legal challenges will be much more difficult. Yet another reason why the BDCP cannot be approved. To-date, unfortunately, the only thing that has kept the salmon from extinction has been the legal challenges.

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