Dams, Dams, and more Dams:
- Some Won/Some Lost: The state partially listened to concerned communities (Good) but still installed one of the three proposed salinity dams this year, the False River Dam (Bad). That dam caused the destruction and damage the locals were concerned it would (Bad). It was removed when promised (before the salmon runs) in November (Good). The state is proposing to install the False River Dam again in April (Bad).
- Even More Dams?: Five more gates (or dams) have been proposed, but to-date this remains a study and has not gone forward for review.
- Good News: Another bad Bill sponsored by the San Joaquin agricultural members which would have devastated the Central Valley salmon populations was brought up to the new 2015 Congress in January but did not pass the Senate. The fish win.
- Bad Executive Order: In April, Gov. Brown issued Executive Order B-29-15 which streamlined the permitting and review of emergency drought salinity barriers (and expedited the False River Dam).
California WaterFix (aka Delta Tunnels):
- Here Comes the New Plan (Same as the Old Plan): Gov. Brown released a new plan in July 2015 to replace the defeated BDCP Tunnel Plan, named the “California WaterFix.” It is the same old BDCP plan regarding the Tunnels, but without any pretense that it will help the Delta or the environment.
- Rushed Comment Period: Two pseudo-meetings were held in the Northern Delta in July. Protesters attended. The scene was like something from the 1960s at Berkeley. Hundreds crowded onto the sidewalk in front of the Sacramento Grand Sheraton protesting to an un-listening governor bent on building water tunnels. Thousands of comments opposing the tunnels were submitted.
- The permitting process started for the Delta Tunnels. The Army Corp of Engineers has not been open to postponing the permit process until the California WaterFix EIR is final, nor were they willing to come to Discovery Bay so that communities in the South could meet with them. (Bad)
- SWRCB Hearings Announced: The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) announced the schedule for hearings in 2016 concerning the permits for the tunnels. This is the next battlefront. STCDA is preparing their protest to submit by January 5, as required by the STCDA process. The battle continues into 2016. This could be a positive turning point against the Delta Tunnels. (That would be Good).
Four Delta Island Proposal
- Metropolitan Water District plus two large Central Valley water districts push to buy four Delta islands (Bad).
- At the end of 2015, the deal had not been completed because of prior restrictions on those islands’ use (Good).
Westland’s Wins – Northern California’s Losses:
- In August, Westlands farmers try to destroy the Klamath Basin. Destroying the Delta isn’t enough for them. (Bad)
- In September, a bad-for-the-Delta agreement was reached between the U.S. Government and Westlands which would relieve Westlands of its $350 million debt for their portion of the Central Valley Project and would lift limits on the size of Westlands farms eligible for subsidized water deliveries. As of the end of the year, this has not yet been approved by Congress.
2015 Progress Made:
- Working Together: While the California WaterFix (Delta Tunnels) plan is still high on Gov. Brown’s must-do list, the Northern California legislators, communities, boaters, and environmental groups continue to be united in battling to defeat the tunnels. No, Gov. Brown. We will not “Shut Up,” nor will we stop educating the public on the damage the tunnels would do. More people are understanding the real issues involved with the Delta Tunnel. Our legislators continue to work to replace the Delta Tunnels with viable water plans.
- Large Coalition Pushing the SWRCB to Reject the Plan: A large Coalition (including STCDA) sent a letter to the State Water Board, urging them to reject the demand by water agencies to abandon the ‘unimpaired flow’ approach in the update of the State Board’s update to the Delta’s water quality control plan. In other words, to do what the 2009 legislature dictated to the Delta Plan/BDCP: To start with the Delta Flows report. That report proves that the Delta cannot continue to be the single source of water for the state – other projects and plans are needed.
- Delta Independent Science Board Slam: In October, the Delta Independent Science Board Slams the California WaterFix.
- Four Delta Island proposal stalled: The Four Delta Island proposal is stymied and hopefully will not go through.
- STCDA ready to continue the Battle: The Save the California Delta Alliance Board of Directors vote to continue the battle into 2016. In addition, all of the Board members and our Legal Council have agreed to remain in their positions. (Thank you).
Happy 2016! Together we will Save the Delta!