Archive for the 'STCDA News' Category

During the Pandemic, Westlands Lobbies for More Delta Water

This article written by a Director of Westlands Water District showed up in CalMatters this week: California water policies inhibit food production by Valley farmers.

Over the past 30 years, federal and California policies have taken away millions of acre-feet of water used by San Joaquin Valley farmers to produce food. Photo via iStock

My reaction to this very slanted, misleading, and downright erroneous opinion piece in a recent CalMatters article written to support Westlands Water District’s ongoing push for more water from the Delta is below:

No one has “taken away millions of acre-feet (MAF) of water” from San Joaquin farmers. The fact is that for decades, twice as much water has been taken out of the Delta more than the environment can handle. This was recognized in 2009 by the legislature’s Delta Reform Act directing Delta projects to start with the Delta Flow Requirements, but the exporters rejected the science. They continue to reject the science and ignoring the law. OF COURSE, pumping six MAF per year instead of the scientifically-approved three to four MAF limit has failed to maintain the species.

It is true that the Valley grows fruits and vegetables for America. Thank you! That is wonderful and something everyone in the state wants to continue or expand. But the same area grows 80-90 percent of the world’s almonds and pistachio’s, mainly to ship to Asia for big profits, and a huge amount of feed, also shipped to Asia. The Valley could easily be the American food basket with half the water they grab today and could actually then restore the Delta and provide clean water for the communities in the North that require a clean and healthy Delta for their drinking water, instead of allowing saltwater to intrude. One might conclude that the San Joaquin farmers are driven by profits, not what food is needed on California’s tables. We’re finding an increasing number of types of produce arriving from Mexico and Costa Rica now in our Delta grocery stores, as the acreage of almonds continues to expand, as it did even during the 2011 to 2015 drought years.

Also, the San Joaquin Valley is NOT the only region on the planet that has class one fertile soils and ideal climate. The farmlands on Delta islands and surrounding lands are actually the most fertile, comprised of rich peat soil. The famous Brentwood white-corn, tomatoes, fruit, and vegetables abound. Delta farms are surrounded by the water they need. All of the Delta Islands, Contra Costa County’s farms, etc., are irrigated by pumping water out of the Delta and then the runoff returns to the Delta to support fish migrating to the ocean. Yet it is these farms the San Joaquin exporters are trying to get rid of. And the expanding almond orchards include farming on the tainted, selenium-laced desert lands near I-5, the Westlands district. These farms should be retired.

It is correct that, unlike the Delta farmlands, what is missing from the San Joaquin Valley is water. Once there was more than enough water – the Tulare Lake – larger than the Great Salt Lake in area. But the early cotton farmers dried it up. Tulare was also the natural percolation pond for the Valley’s groundwater table. Valley farmers have created their own water problem. They need to look for ways to balance their need with available water while reducing reliance on the Delta.

During this pandemic, the narrowly-focused view to rush a new Delta tunnel is forging ahead, even while the Delta Stakeholders have complained that with the COVID-19 rampant, now is not the time to ask communities in the North to try to defend themselves from this destructive project. Instead, now should be the time to focus on groundwater recharge, desalination, recycling, conservation to improve regional self-reliance. And we could use a plan to insure they deliver the food that America needs and not just the most profitable crop.

Delta Tunnel Efforts Push Ahead during Pandemic

THIS is why we have a comment period on the single tunnel due Friday and why Karen Mann and the rest of the Stakeholder Engagement Committee are being asked to attend a video conference session DURING A PANDEMIC! This good write-up from California Water Research/ includes the letters Karen and other SEC members sent in requesting (pleading) with them to not move ahead while families and businesses were struggling to just keep their head above water (no pun intended).

Informative!

Worth reading and if you have the bandwidth to send in comments to the DWR this week, feel free to include an objection to them continuing to try to push this through while the Delta communities attention is diverted elsewhere. Here’s the details about sending in comments by April 17.

SWP Contract Amendment for Delta Conveyance Teleconference

SWP Contract Amendment for Delta Conveyance meeting on Wednesday, April 8, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.

Dear All,

PARTICIPATE BY PHONE AND WEBINAR

Per the Governor’s direction on gatherings to protect public health and slow the spread of COVID-19, upcoming public meetings for the SWP Contract Amendment for Delta Conveyance will occur via phone and webinar only. Opportunities for public comment via conference call will occur as outlined in the meeting agenda.

For the best audio quality, participants should call in via conference call:

PHONE LINE: 719-359-4032
ACCESS CODE: 474346#

Please note that a guide has been posted online with step by step instructions on three different ways to join the audio conference based on phone and internet reliability. Please be patient as Adobe Connect adjusts for capacity.

The webinar can be accessed via the following link: http://kearnswest.adobeconnect.com/deltaconveyance.

WEBINAR CHAT INSTRUCTIONS

To make a public comment, navigate to the Chat Pod in the bottom right corner of the meeting’s interface.
In the empty field, highlighted in green, type the text Public Comment.
Hit enter or click the send icon to send the message to the entire group.

Participants can also listen to audio through the webinar. Please note that participants using webinar audio will be kept muted for the duration of the meeting. Detailed instructions for setting up webinar audio are included below.

WEBINAR AUDIO INSTRUCTIONS (Click here to access the detailed guide)

Enter the webinar using the Adobe Connect App, rather than through a web browser. This might happen automatically, or you may be prompted to open the Adobe Connect App when selecting the webinar link.
Once you have entered the webinar, turn on audio by clicking the Meeting button in the top left corner, and then selecting Audio Setup Wizard.
Navigate through the Audio Setup Wizard as prompted. You will then be able to hear audio from the meeting.
Please contact Kai Walcott of Kearns & West, the facilitation team, at (415) 568-9990 if you have any questions about the webinar.

AGENDA

The draft agenda for the SWP Contract Amendment for Delta Conveyance meeting on Wednesday, April 8, 2020 is posted on the Department of Water Resources Box site, here: https://cadwr.box.com/s/irusyewojv4nwzmxfznghzmgli9sswcw. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m.

Please contact Brian “BG” Heiland at Brian.Heiland@water.ca.gov if you have any questions or comments, or need additional information.

Thank you,

The Kearns & West Facilitation Team

Support for Small Business Owners

I know a lot of you are small business owners, trying to navigate what to do during these trying times.

This is the US Senate’s Small Business Owner’s Guide to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. It talks about points of contact and the programs now available to support you and your businesses.

Click to access F2CF1DD78E6D6C8C8C3BF58C6D1DDB2B.small-business-owner-s-guide-to-the-cares-act-final-.pdf

Delta Groups Unite: Request Tunnel Efforts Put On-Hold During this Crisis

I hope you and your family are hanging in there during this stressful time.

If you are like me, the last thing you want is one more issue to worry about right now. If you live in the Delta, one of the biggest stress-producing concerns over the past ten years has been worrying about what the impact to our lives and our economies would be from the Delta Tunnels project. The impact on our lives was not reduced when the project morphed from two tunnels to one. Yet no pandemic will stop the State from roaring ahead on this impractical, ill-conceived tunnel project.

The WaterFix project had to be withdrawn in 2019 and the Department of Water Resources (DWR) was told to go back to the drawing board. But they found a way around the problem and have been paying a separate group, the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority (DCA), to roar ahead on the design of the single tunnel, based on the WaterFix plan. The DCA board members are all water contractors, most from the Metropolitan Water District. Last year, the DCA formed a Stakeholder Engagement Committee (SEC), comprised of members throughout the Delta, to provide insight and feedback on the plans. Naturally, every SEC member is adamantly opposed to the project, but are being asked to help find the lest-objectionable route and help the State reduce impacts from the project. That’s a tough ask, and almost impossible to do.

Karen Mann from Discovery Bay was chosen as the SEC representative for local businesses in the South Delta. Karen owns her own appraisal business, helps raise four grandchildren, and is also the President of Save the California Delta Alliance. She’s a busy lady. But she is adamant about saving the Delta, so traveled to each SEC meeting to present concerns of Delta folks about the aspects of the “new” tunnel design.

As the Coronavirus crisis became more apparent, Karen had to miss the March 11 SEC meeting. About a third of the DCA Delta Stakeholder Engagement Committee members were unable to attend that meeting. DCA clearly knows the angst the tunnel project brings to Delta folks and that now they were in the middle of a pandemic. Yet DCA was determined to plow ahead – crisis or no crisis.

On May 16, as the representative of local businesses in the Delta, Karen wrote to Kathryn Mallon, DCA Executive Director, and to Karla Nemeth, Director of the DWR, to request

that the stakeholder outreach effort be put on hold during this crisis… The Single Tunnel EIR process and comment period should be on hold also for the same reason. The citizens are reeling right now. It is not the time to be ramrodding a project that has so many significant, hurtful impacts and expect people to have the energy to devote to provide thoughtful comments and input.

At the same time, Delta Defenders, a group formed to unite Delta residents fighting the Delta tunnels, based in the Northern part of the Delta, also noted the absurdity of the state moving ahead with the tunnel Stakeholder Engagement meetings at this time. They asked,

Seriously? During this public health emergency, the Department of Water Resources and the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority are expecting Delta residents to go through a 95 page PowerPoint containing detailed information on two alternative alignments for the proposed Delta tunnel project? We are supposed to evaluate proposed mitigations and communicate any concerns to our “representatives” on the Delta Stakeholder Engagement Committee?

We ask the question, why is the DCA and DWR continuing to rush
forward with the Delta tunnel engineering design? Why does the Delta stakeholder engagement process have to be pushed forward during a public health emergency, regardless of what Delta residents are dealing with?

Karla Nemeth, Director of the DWR replied that the March 25 meeting would continue. The effort plowed ahead. After the May 19 announcement that the State was under a “Shelter in Place” order, the March 25 meeting was cancelled.

On March 23, DCA announced that “DCA Board meetings and Stakeholder Engagement Meetings will be accessible through video, phone or live.” Very insensitive. They should have postponed the effort indefinitely instead. They sent email out to the SEC members with a survey asking if members had a computer and internet at home and reminding them to submit answers to the questionnaires that were distributed at the last meeting. They were asking Delta residents to do homework, gather feedback from other Delta residents, and still work on this distasteful project, regardless of if there are kids being home schooled, people still trying to work, or sickness in the household.

Yesterday, Restore the Delta and the Sierra Club California joined in the call to stop any tunnel activities which

seek and receive benefit of other agencies’ actions for which public participation is critical, and during the pandemic, scarce and distracted.

I’ll let you know if what the DCA decides to do.

Stay safe and well

We hope all of you are staying safe and well.

In this stressful time of a world pandemic, we do not think it is also a time to have to worry about anything except our families, our communities, and our businesses.

The Delta Tunnel(s) project has always caused a lot of angst for we who live in the Delta and love the Delta. The groups who have been fighting the tunnel are pleading with the organizations that are still trying to rush this new destructive Single Tunnel project through to stop, let people focus on the important issues in their lives, and not add more stress.

We haven’t been pushing for our members to submit comments on the Single Tunnel Notice of Preparation (NOP) which were originally due tomorrow, it just didn’t seem right. Instead, groups have been pushing the DWR to delay. Fortunately, because of pushback, the DWR moved the comment period end from March 20 to April 17. Still, that’s only 10 days after the current “Shelter in Place” ends and, unfortunately, the shut-down is likely to be extended. We think the DWR needs to just cancel the Single Tunnel efforts until this coronavirus crisis is behind us.

If you are bored at home and want to keep track of when things are due and any updates, go to our Event Tracker tab. The top part of that page gives info on upcoming events, like the current April 17 comments due date and where to send comments. Below that is our history of events. We’ll try to keep that page current.

And there are some new developments we’ll be sending out.

But if you are like Karen and I, we are having trouble focusing on anything with all of our family worries right now. So the most important thing is to stay safe and well!

Karen Mann, President
Jan McCleery, Past President

Delta Conveyance Project Scoping Comment Period Reminder

Thanks again to everyone who showed up at one of the Single Tunnel Scoping Meetings. This reminder came out from DWR today that people can send in more comments on the Single Tunnel Plan up until March 20. Details below:
___________________________________


March 13, 2020
Delta Conveyance Project
Scoping Comment Period Reminder

___________________________________
Next Friday, March 20, marks the close of the scoping comment period on the Notice of Preparation (NOP) for the development of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for modernized water infrastructure in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The scoping period provides an opportunity for public and agency comment on the scope and content of the California Environmental Quality Act review, including the potential environmental impacts of a proposed single tunnel conveyance project and range of alternatives that will be analyzed in the EIR. Modernizing Delta conveyance is part of the state’s Water Resilience Portfolio, which describes the framework to address California’s water challenges and support long-term water resilience and ecosystem health.

The NOP and related availability and informational materials can be viewed online or at one of these locations.

How to Comment:

All comments received during the scoping period will be considered in the development of the Draft EIR. DWR is seeking public input on the scope of issues to be addressed in the EIR and input about alternatives that meet the project’s objectives. Comments may be submitted in several ways:

Email: DeltaConveyanceScoping@water.ca.gov
Mail: Department of Water Resources, Attn: Renee Rodriguez, P.O. Box 942836, Sacramento, CA 94236
Fillable online form: View Form
Comments must be received electronically or postmarked on or before March 20, 2020.

Save the Date – May 8

“New” Tunnel Plan, Same Problems

Here’s an overview of how the “new” Single Tunnel Plan is the same as the old plan. And what is different (not much).

The only difference is a possible new Eastern route which goes a bit more around-the-Delta than through it. But other than a swath of purple on a map, there are no details yet about construction impacts with an Eastern tunnel route.

Otherwise, the same construction impacts exists at the North intakes and along the old Through-Delta route (still an option). In addition, regardless of tunnel route, the construction will leave behind muck in the Delta plus the same long-term water quality issues exist.

Unacceptable – Single Tunnel Plan has the same Intake Locations in the North!


Karen Mann at the Stakeholder Engagement Meeting February 12, 2020.

At the Wednesday Stakeholder Engagement Committee Meeting, Karen Mann, representing South Delta Local Businesses, read feedback from one of her stakeholders explaining why we are enraged that the new Single Tunnel Plan has the same intake locations in the North Delta:

It is clear that the intakes cannot be placed in any of the locations shown on the preliminary drawings for discussion purposes (that is in 2 of the 3 locations of previous intakes 2, 3, and 5 of California Waterfix). Extensive evidentiary showings in the prior State Water Resources Control Board hearings and Delta Stewardship Council hearings show that neither of these agencies can approve intakes in these locations because it would not be consistent with the Public Trust Doctrine (Water Board) or the Delta Reform Act (Delta Stewardship Council). It is unacceptable to locate the intakes in close proximity to Delta Legacy communities. We understand that DWR wants to put the intakes in these locations only because they claim they have an existing water right at these locations. DWR will just have to accept the reality that they are going to have to put the intakes somewhere else and initiate a new water right in order to do so.

The question is: When will begin a realistic consideration of intake locations? That is, locations other than currently being considered. Talking about intakes at the current locations is a waste of time because it cannot happen.

That sentiment is similar to what we’re saying in addition about the “Central Corridor” tunnel route (which is the same as the WaterFix “Through-Delta” Alignment) which we proved in the prior Water Board hearings and DSC hearings that the shutting down of Delta waterways to boating and recreation was inconsistent with the Delta Plan and could not be approved. Talking about construction destruction through the center of the Delta is a waste of time.

In addition, nothing has changed with the long-term issues raised about impacts to the in-Delta water quality. You can’t take the fresher water out before it flows through the estuary and expect improvements for fish survivability.

Yet, DWR moves ahead with these “Scoping” meetings expecting community input.

Why aren’t they taking the input they previously received and altering their plan to make it acceptable?

REMINDER ***CALLING ALL HANDS

Thursday, February 20, 2020, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Brentwood Community Center Conference Room, 35 Oak Street, Brentwood. South Delta members are STRONGLY requested to attend !!! We will be in the parking lot at 5:15 p.m. to organize.

If you can’t make that one, there is one on Wednesday, February 19, 2020, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Clarksburg Middle School Auditorium, 52870 Netherlands Road, Clarksburg.


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