California WaterFix hearings delayed over alleged secret meetings

Another write-up: MyPhoto
Jan McCleery, president of the Save the California Delta Alliance (STCDA), discussed allegations of improper contact between the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Board during California WaterFix hearings. The second round of hearings have been delayed for two weeks while the Water Board investigates the allegations. Press photo by Tony Kukulich.

The past week was a difficult one for supporters of the California WaterFix project, formerly referred to as the Delta tunnels project, as allegations of ex parte communications between the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the California State Water Board have come to light, largely as a result of work done by the Discovery Bay-based Save the California Delta Alliance (STCDA).

The DWR is petitioning the water board for a permit to build the tunnels and other operating mechanisms that comprise the WaterFix project. The issuance of that permit by the State Water Board is a critical step in the implementation of the California WaterFix. A series of public hearings have taken place over more than a year to discuss how implementation of the project could impact the environment, local economies, wildlife, recreation and other aspects of the Delta. Part II of these meetings was scheduled to get underway Jan. 18.

A petition filed by STCDA attorney Michael Brodsky requested a 90-day delay in the start of the Part II hearings because, the STCDA alleges, nine secret meetings were held over 13 months between the DWR and state board. That petition states that the meetings were about “preparing DWR’s evidence in a manner that would allow the petition to be approved by the board.”

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