Yesterday the State Water Resources Control Board voted 4-1 to adopt the controversial flow standards for San Joaquin River tributaries and salinity standards for the South Delta.

This is the meeting Jerry Brown delayed for a month to give Gavin Newsom and the agencies time to come up with voluntary compromises as Newsom heads to take on the Governor role.

The Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan update for the Lower San Joaquin River and Southern Delta, includes a requirement for 40 percent of unimpaired flow, within a range of 30 to 50 percent. While this isn’t the full amount needed according to the Delta Flow Requirements reports, it is a start in the right direction.

From Maven’s report:

A dramatic decline in the once-thriving populations of native fish species that migrate through and inhabit the Delta has brought some species to the brink of extinction. In 1984, for example, about 70,000 fall-run Chinook salmon adults returned to the San Joaquin Basin. The number of returning adults dropped to 40,000 in 2010 and just 10,000 in 2016 and 2017.

While multiple factors contributed to the decline, the magnitude of diversions out of the Sacramento, San Joaquin, and other rivers feeding into the Bay-Delta is a major reason for the ecosystem decline. Currently, flows remaining in the San Joaquin River and its three tributaries can run as low as 6 percent in dry or drought years, while they average 10 to 20 percent of unimpaired flow at critical times of the year and range from 21 to 40 percent on average.

The Board is continuing now to work on flow requirements for the Sacramento River.

Read the entire Maven’s Notebook report: REACTIONS: Water agencies and organizations react to voluntary settlements and the State Water Board vote to adopt new flow standards for San Joaquin River tributaries

The California Farm Bureau sounded less on-board with their statement. While they congratulated the collaborative effort undertaken during the last 30 days to reach an agreement, they want collaboration rather than rules and claim an approach listing habitat restoration first followed by water flows and improved temperature for fish is the solution, claiming that is a proven approach.

We say it isn’t a very “proven approach” when there were 70,000 fall-run Chinook in 1984 (back when exports were below 6 MAF) and the number of returning adults dropped to 40,000 in 2010 and just 10,000 in 2016 and 2017 (during the timeframe where the state has implemented many habitat restoration projects). Habitat restoration alone cannot save the salmon. Fish need fresh water flows first and foremost.

Similarly, the agencies that came to the table the last 30 days with their voluntary compromises, like Department of Water Resources and Metropolitan Water District touted that they are working on these compromises, but we note that they have not formally signed off on their end of the agreement. For example, Metropolitan calls their side of the bargain “proposed voluntary settlement agreements”.

Not to put a wet blanket on this very good news, we will just need to see if they continue on their path of compromises for the benefit of the fish and the estuary.

But today we are extremely proud of the Water Board for doing the right thing and taking that first, hard step towards the needed improved water flows in the Delta.

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Posted by: Jan | December 12, 2018

We object!

We’ve been saying that in the Department of Water Resources (DWR) December 7 letter withdrawing the WaterFix (Delta Tunnels) from the current process DWR did not admit that WaterFix’s through-Delta tunnel construction would be abysmal for Delta communities and farmers, nor did they admit WaterFix violated sections of the Delta Plan relating to reducing reliance, maintaining water quality standards, and protecting boating and recreating.

In the DWR letter, Karla Nemeth, DWR Director, claimed the opposite, that “WaterFix is consistent with the Delta Plan Policies.” In addition, she made the request to dismiss all appeals which resulted in the immediate dismissal of all appeals three hours later, without opportunity for Appellants to respond.

The Council took only three hours to act!

Save the California Delta Alliance calls “foul!” We object! It appears to the public to be an end-run by the Department around the public process.

The appeals are not moot. The DWR does not commit to or even discuss the possibility of making any changes to aspects of the project that we find objectionable. No facts have changed.

We want the DWR to commit to making changes in their project, which include:

  1. Moving the tunnel route East, avoiding damaging construction traffic on two-lane Delta levee highways, avoiding tunneling under fragile levees, and avoiding barge traffic impacts to boating and recreation.
  2. Relocating pumping facilities to not impact the legacy towns (Hood, Clarksburg, Walnut Grove).
  3. Committing to the proper removal and treatment of tunnel muck.
  4. Developing a real operations plan which includes measurable targets for reduction of exports and reduction of reliance on the Delta (instead of a hand-waiving “adaptive management” proposal).
  5. Providing a valid, peer-reviewed Cost/Benefits Analysis.

Else the Council should vote and remand the matter to the DWR. We believe that this is the only lawful course at this point given the current WaterFix Plan.

It looks like a closed-door process to us, lacking transparency. The DWR wants to push its interpretations of the Delta Reform Act and Delta Plan behind closed doors without our due process rights.

We are requesting no ex party closed door communications between the Council and the DWR!

Here is the email sent objecting to the withdrawal of our appeals: Subject: California WaterFix C20185 request to reconsider dismissal of appeals .

Posted by: Jan | December 10, 2018

What happens next?

After nine years working to stop the Delta Tunnel project, when the Department of Water Resources (DWR) withdrew their request to the Delta Stewardship Council to certify the Tunnel plan last week, our first response was “We won!” Especially since the Delta Stewardship Council Staff agreed with our appeal about the tunnel construction damage and long-term water quality issues.

But we couldn’t help but wonder what it all means.

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In her letter, DWR Director Karla Nemeth referred only to Council Chairman Randy Fiorini’s statement that DWR “filed its Certification of Consistency before it was ready to demonstrate consistency with the Delta Plan” as the reason DWR made the withdrawal. She did not mention the Staff’s agreement with our appeal or the issues raised about the tunnels.

Yes, the Council Staff agreed with our appeal and said the tunnels were not consistent with the Delta Plan. But in the DWR letter, Nemeth didn’t say she agreed with Fiorini or refer at all to the opposition’s claims.

Just the opposite. Nemeth stated that the DWR “firmly believes the timing was appropriate,” a “thorough record had been prepared,” and that “WaterFix is consistent with the Delta Plan Policies.” Instead, DWR’s reason for withdrawing is “unresolved issues related to the interpretation of the requirements of the Delta Reform Act and Delta Plan Policies,” (i.e., just a technicality).

The optimistic of us would say Nemeth was just “saving face” for the DWR and we hope the DWR will take their tunnel plan and slink away into the night.

However, Nemeth also requested that the Council dismiss all appeals of the WaterFix certification of consistency. And the Council did just that.

The whole thing sounds sneaky to me. Maybe because we know Karla’s husband is executive strategist with the Metropolitan Water District, the group financing the tunnel plan. I don’t hear DWR admitting that the Tunnel Plan is terrible for the Delta, only that there’s some minor unresolved issues.

So what does that mean?
I asked our Legal Council about it. Michael Brodsky said it would have been better for us to go forward to the hearings on December 20-21 and have a formal decision sustaining our appeal. Instead now, our appeal has been dismissed and there was nothing we could do to stop it.

So while we’re still happy that it was a big setback for the tunnels, by dismissing the appeals they may be trying to limit the damage to the tunnel plan.

We just have to see what happens next.

And to be prepared for what happens next, we are in our Holiday Season Fundraising mode and appreciate any year-end donations you’d like to make.

Please donate . . .

We’re a 501(c)3 non-profit so all donations are tax-deductible.

STCDA is an all-voluntary organization and does not, nor does it anticipate, paying board members salaries or wages or legal council fees.

Or make checks payable to “STCDA” and mail to:

    STCDA
    P.O. Box 1760
    Discovery Bay, CA 94505
Posted by: Jan | December 7, 2018

Delta Tunnel Project has been put on-hold!

THIS JUST IN! Today the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) withdrew their request to the Delta Stewardship Council to certify that the Delta Tunnels (California WaterFix) is “consistent” with the Delta Plan! This is big. It means that the Water Board cannot approve the Permit for the tunnels to begin hence the tunnels are not allowed to begin.

DWR to DSC WaterFix Consistency Certification 12.7.18 copy.png

This is due in large part to the outstanding work done by Save the California Delta Alliance’s Legal Council, Michael Brodsky, and others who pushed back and testified about (1) the fact that the Delta Tunnels could not possibly reduce reliance on the Delta and reduce water exports (as required by the Delta Plan) and (2) the 10+ year construction phase of the project was so horrendous regarding the damage and impact on Delta communities, farming, and boating a recreation – all areas that the Delta Plan was committed to protecting – that the Tunnels could not possibly be allowed go forward.

The wishy-washy wording below from the DWR still claims that request of the filing for Consistency was “appropriate based on the thorough record that had been prepared” and that the report prepared for the tunnels “more than adequately supports the findings that WaterFix is consistent with the Delta Plan…”, they only say that because there are “unresolved issues related to the interpretation of the requirements of the Delta Reform Act and Delta Plan” they are withdrawing at this time.

“WRONG,” we firmly say. It was not due to any “interpretation” of requirements. Stopping the plan was necessary due to the total irresponsibility of the DWR in choosing a tunnel route through the Delta instead of around the Delta. Many of the issues raised were because DWR chose the “cheapest, shortest” route instead of the only potentially acceptable route, the Eastern route, around the Delta. By planning a huge construction project through the Delta instead of around it, the project would have gridlocked all of the rural Delta highways. Their project would shut down traffic coming to/from the Delta, blocking boaters from marinas, blocking Delta farmers trying to get their produce to market. Construction trucks rumbling through quaint legacy towns like Locke would have literally shook Locke’s 150 year old walls down. The barge traffic flooding the waterways would have made boating and recreation impossible whereas the Delta Plan says boating a recreation is an important feature of the Delta, to be protected. The irresponsible choice of the through-Delta route was a no-starter from the beginning.

Adding to that, DWR’s slipshod management and controls on the project, their “adaptive management” plan nearly insured that the northern pumps would remove more water than the environment could afford to lose, hence further impacting the environmental and water quality damage now being done to the Delta.

So while we applaud that the DWR has been forced to withdraw their filing for consistency, we are not convinced that they understand at all what the real issues are:
(1) They chose the wrong route. If they’d chosen the Eastern Route, there may have been some room for discussion; and
(2) They never put in enough controls to insure that they would not continue to destroy the water quality (as they have done in past years) or that the tunnels would not have made things worse.

So we are happy today for one battle in the skirmish being won. But we aren’t done yet.

We will not be planning a bus to Sacramento December 20-21 for the DWR meetings since the appeals process has been put on hold. We still remain concerned about the riders and the WIIN Act extension being discussed in congress, pushed by Brown and Feinstein. There is still work to be done.

We appreciate any donations we receive for our year-end fundraising drive. If you can donate, please go to http://www.NoDeltaGates.com and push on the “Donate” button on the right side or send checks made out to “STCDA” to STCDA, PO Box 1760, Discovery Bay, CA 94505.

Posted by: Jan | December 5, 2018

Important Meeting Dec 20

4-ArrivingByBus

GET ON THE BUS!

December 20-21, 2018 – The Delta Stewardship Council votes whether the tunnels are “Consistent” with the Delta Plan.
Starts at 9:00 am Thursday Dec 20
Official Notice
Location: City of West Sacramento Civic Center Galleria
1110 West Capitol Avenue
West Sacramento, CA 95691

Email stcda@nodeltagates.com as soon as possible so we can get a count and see if we have enough for a bus.

Posted by: Jan | December 5, 2018

Write your Senators – Stop the WIIN Act Rider

IN ADDITION TO THE SAN FRANCISCO DEMONSTRATION, EVERYONE PLEASE WRITE TO SENATOR KAMELA HARRIS AND ASK HER TO VOTE “NO” ON THE WIIN ACT RIDER AND ASK HER TO TALK TO SENATOR FEINSTEIN ABOUT FEINSTEIN’s ATROCIOUS ROLE IN THIS BOONDOGGLE

CONTACT KAMELA HARRIS AT: https://www.harris.senate.gov/contact/email

Here’s what I wrote:

Please do everything you can to stop the WIIN Act extension.

Shame on Gov. Jerry Brown and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
Six years ago, at Sen. Feinstein’s urging, one of the world’s most prestigious scientific organizations, the National Academy of Sciences, studied the health of the Delta. The academy and every scientific report conducted about Delta Flow Requirements concludes that the best way to preserve the Delta’s ecosystem is to send more water, not less, through it and out to San Francisco Bay, not shipping the water south.

Delta citizens have spent years testifying about the real issues with the Delta tunnels – the horrendous 10+ year construction project and the devastating environmental effects from sending water around the Delta instead of through it – and our efforts are close to paying off. BUT NOW THIS! Just as two state agencies are about act to protect the environmental health of the Delta, the governor and Sen. Feinstein are trying to undermine them.

The drought is over. The WIIN Act extension is just the means for Brown and Feinstein to force their will on the state. In addition, the extension is designed as a rider to the federal appropriations bill, so it won’t get the committee scrutiny a bill of such magnitude deserves. This is bad politics.

You are our last hope for saving our Delta communities and the Delta environment. Reject the rider. It is unacceptable for Brown and Feinstein to continue to ignore the science in order to help the pocketbooks of the Corporate almond and pistachio growers and L.A. developers.

Also email Sen. Feinstein and express your disappointment in her for abandoning the scientific evidence that taking water around the Delta will not help it. And complain about the project’s complete failure to protect the Delta Communities which instead will be destroyed by 10+ years of construction through the heart of the Delta.

Posted by: Jan | December 5, 2018

Protest at Feinstein’s SF Office

Just when we are making good progress from our years of testifying about the real issues with the Delta tunnels – the horrendous 10+ year construction project and the devastating environmental effects from sending water around the Delta instead of through it – our efforts are close to paying off. BUT NOW THIS!

Jerry Brown and Diane Feinstein are colluding to make an end-around all of our efforts and bypass the state agencies whose charter is to protect the Delta. At issue is the federal WINN (Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation) Act, which was originally designed as a short-term fix to send more Delta water south during California’s historic drought. It is scheduled to expire in 2021. The WIIN Act extension reportedly comes with Trump administration financial support for the Delta twin tunnels!

A PROTEST IS PLANNED FOR TOMORROW, DECEMBER 6, AT 11:00 A.M. IN FRONT OF DIANE FEINSTEIN’S SAN FRANCISCO OFFICE

ORGANIZED BY: Food and Water Watch, Restore the Delta

WHAT: Demonstration on street in front of Senator Dianne Feinstein’s SF Office calling on her to drop support for WIIN Act

WHERE: 1 Post St #2450, San Francisco, CA 94104

WHEN: Thursday, December 6, 2018 11:00 am

THEY ARE HOPING TO HAVE T.V. CAMERAS FILM THE EVENT SO ANYONE WHO CAN SHOW UP, THAT WOULD BE GREAT! PLEASE FORWARD THIS PLEA TO ANY OF YOUR FRIENDS AND ASSOCIATES WHO LIVE IN THE SAN FRANCISCO AREA AND COULD SHOW UP. SEND TO MARINAS, BOATERS, COMMERCIAL SALMON FISHERMEN – ANYONE WHO WILL BE AFFECTED IF THE TUNNELS GO THROUGH.

If you have questions or want more information, contact Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta

For more information, read the Editorial in the S.J. Mercury for more information: https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/12/04/editorial-delta/
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Tweet to @SenFeinstein:

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Posted by: Jan | November 21, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving from STCDA!

Happy Thanksgiving from STCDA!

I feel so lucky to have such wonderful, supportive members in the battle to save the Delta, a talented Board, and a great lawyer fighting for us!

We hope your Thanksgiving holiday is happy!

Happy-Thanksgiving

Nov 15&16, 2018 was the Delta Stewardship Council meeting to review their Staff’s findings about the WaterFix (Delta Tunnels).

Here is STCDA’s Briefing to the DSC. The plan was for the Council to vote in December whether to accept their staff’s recommendations to vote that the Delta Tunnels (WaterFix) is “Inconsistent” with the Delta Plan or not.

Randy Fiorini, DSC Chairman, suggested that the DWR withdraw their request that the WaterFix (Tunnel Project) is consistent with the Delta Plan (based on the Council Staff’s findings of inconsistency). That would mean that the DWR has to go back and rework the plan to address our issues of (1) Not reducing reliance on the Delta and (2) Not protecting the Delta as a Place during the construction phase.

Else DWR can take their chances that the DSC will vote in their favor in December.

Here’s details of the meeting from Maven’s Notebook.

Posted by: Jan | November 11, 2018

ALERT: Send Advice to Newsom

Great editorial by the Mercury News Editorial Board, How California can chart new approach to water woes.

Please join me and support them by sending a comment to “All in California” and/or twitter with hashtag #Advice4Gavin.

How? Tell Newsom you agree with the Mercury News Editorial. All in California link.

The Merc News advice? “Newsom should tell the State Water Board to stand firm in their push to increase the amount of water flowing through the San Joaquin River. It’s not only in the best interests of the state’s water future but also is consistent with his desire to resist President Trump’s effort to roll back crucial California environmental protections.”

But other great advice is also in the editorial. Read: How California can chart new approach to water woes.

ALSO, if you use Twitter, send the advice to Newsom by including the hashtag #Advice4Gavin, these tweets will be discussed by reporters and political leaders next Thursday Nov. 15 on California Nation.

Tweet to Newsom to “Stand Firm and support the Water Board in increasing the water flows through the Delta.” Remember to use the #Advice4Gavin hashtag.

Consider: What if Newsom borrowed a page from Brown’s climate change playbook, which called for a big move away from coal and oil in favor of renewable and green energy?

What if, instead of seeking to build more dams or find new ways to divert more water from California’s rivers, Newsom focused on how we can conserve water and create vast new supplies of renewable water through increased recycling, new treatment plants, additional gray water systems, efficient irrigation systems, large-scale storm water capture and more.

That’s leadership. And it would leave a far greater legacy than Brown’s ill-conceived Delta twin-tunnels plan, which would cost $19.9 billion but wouldn’t add a drop of new water to California’s limited supply.

Newsom can start by making his position clear at a pivotal State Water Resources Control Board meeting rescheduled for Dec. 11. The board is scheduled to vote on a proposal to substantially increase water flows in the San Joaquin River and its tributaries from as low as 10 to 20 percent to 40 percent of natural flows.

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