Mike McCleery giving feedback to the Delta Stewardship Council
South Delta locals poured into the Delta Stewardship Council meeting on Thursday, March 23 in Brentwood. There was an amazing turnout! Particularly considering that this was the third of the DSC’s “throughout California” distributed meetings. The Tracy DSC Meeting had only 3 people in attendance; the Southern California DSC Meeting was only attended by water agency personnel.
But when the DSC dared venture into the South Delta, we showed them that the people here are 100 percent opposed to the Delta Tunnel boondoggle. There were several hundred people in attendance, many were from the Save the California Delta Alliance group and at least 70 were wearing STCDA’s new “Save the Delta / No Tunnels / No Gates” tee shirts. The DSC recognized that the crowd was there for Agenda Item 11 (obviously) and the Council moved that to be the first topic discussed.
Many people got up and made comments against the tunnels. Barbara from Restore the Delta noted problems with how the council has been holding its meetings and that the DSC meetings need better communication and format. People asked for evening meetings, when more people could be involved, and asked for more involvement in the process where their input would be considered.
Many who commented brought up boating & recreation, impacts to the water quality, the need to protect the people who live in the Delta, local farming, fish, etc. Many talked the need to improve delta flows, reduce reliance on the Delta, and reduce exports. The recent National Marine Fisheries Service report that the Delta Tunnels will destroy the fish in the Delta was brought up and quoted from. People asked why the DSC couldn’t weigh the value of almonds over the value of the Delta. Several people, questioned that the DSC is a real “Stewardship” Council and reprimanded them on the need to take their role seriously, be stewards, and protect the Delta. Bob Wright, Friends of the River legal council, made good points questioning why this amendment was being proposed at all, and stated that the tunnels should not be in the Delta Plan nor the NOP. A representative from the Sierra Club spoke and stated that the Sierra Club are with us in opposition to the tunnels. Lauren Korth, Delta Field Representative from Jim Frazier’s office read Jim’s comments which were very strong and on-target.
The DSC’s opening statement was that it is obvious the current method of exporting water is “broken,” hence a conveyance system is needed to “fix” it. Therein lies the biggest issue. If they started with the Delta Flow requirements like the legislature had directed them to do, and therefore reduced exports, then a conveyance project may not even be needed.
A few of the DSC members seemed to be swayed or impressed by what they heard. However, Randi Fiorini, the chairman, seemed to not be really listening to comments, not interested, and seemed ready to adopt the amendment and move it along. (He does come from the CV farmer side.) Although not everyone was paying attention, a couple of the council did seem to be hearing what we said. Patrick Johnston wanted to address the issue with meetings not being as effective in getting input plus the need to hold some meetings in the evening. Ken Weinberg with experience putting the Carlsbad Desalination Plant on-line appreciated the push for new desalination plants as a way to actually add water to the system. And Skip Thompson, Solano County Supervisor and representative on the Council from the Delta Protection Commission, questioned the process for amending the plan at this time and felt that the DSC seems to be trying to get around the rules. He also brought up Jeffery Michael’s Tunnel Plan Cost/Benefit analysis that showed that for every 29 cents of benefit, the cost was $1.00. Definitely not reasonable. He pushed back on the council and got a standing ovation.
Standing Ovation for Skip Thompson’s supportive remark
But then Supervisor Thompson said the DSC in their role has to make the “Grand Compromise.” I found that to be an interesting term when fish can’t really “compromise.”
Other members of the DSC weren’t as supportive of our concerns and appeared to want to just move ahead and add the tunnels to the Delta Plan.
Thanks to everyone who attended. We think some of the council members may be hearing us.
Please send any additional comments that may have come to mind by April 17th. See our Event Tracker page about the April 17th deadline to know the email address where to send your comments and see suggested comments.
ALSO – the next event is when the DSC decides whether or not to move ahead with the amendment to add the Delta Tunnels to the Delta Plan. A few council members are swaying. Help us push them over to our side by getting on the bus to Sacramento.