Delta Stewardship Council Approves Delta Plan Amendments Rubber Stamping Twin Tunnels Project

By Dan Bacher | April 30, 2018 |

The Delta Stewardship Council on April 26 voted 5-to-2 on amendments to chapters of the Delta Plan, including controversial language that endorses Governor Jerry Brown’s Delta Tunnels Plan, in spite of overwhelming opposition from the public that packed the Council’s meetings over the past couple of years.

The amended chapters include the Delta Levee Investment Strategy; the Conveyance, Storage Systems, and Operation of Both; and Performance Measures, according to the Office of Assemblymember Jim Frazier, who authored legislation to disband the Council that failed to pass through a key Assembly Committee on April 24. Rather than voting on each amended chapter individually, the Council took one vote on all of them.

The vote also included the certification of the Delta Plan’s Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Report (EIS). Prior to the vote on the Delta Plan amendments, the Council voted against a 60-day extension to continue work on those amendments.

“Today’s action is a great example of why I believe the Delta Stewardship Council is a major threat to the Delta and why I attempted to disband it,” said Assemblymember Frazier in a statement. “Instead of voting appropriately on each individual amendment to the Delta Plan, the Council lumped them together and ignored the needs of Delta residents.”

“The amendments on conveyance rubber stamp the disastrous tunnels plan and the Delta Levees Investment Strategy implement a flawed formula to prioritize funding that would diminish funding to agricultural and legacy communities throughout the Delta,” noted Frazier. “There has never been a complete cost-benefit analysis that shows the tunnels would have any benefit to either Delta residents or ratepayers throughout state.”

“I want to thank both Supervisor Skip Thomson and my former colleague in the Assembly, Mike Gatto, the only two members to vote no, for urging that the Council consider each set of amendments on its own merit,” concluded Frazier.

Assemblymember Jim Frazier represents the 11thAssembly District that includes the communities of Antioch, Bethel Island, Birds Landing, Brentwood, Byron, Collinsville, Discovery Bay, Fairfield, Isleton, Knightsen, Locke, Oakley, Pittsburg (partial), Rio Vista, Suisun City, Travis AFB, Vacaville and Walnut Grove.

Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA), slammed the vote by the Council to approve the Delta Plan amendments.

 “With recent appointments to the Council by the Governor, the Delta Stewardship Council should be renamed the Southern California Stewardship Council,” Jennings quipped. “They evidenced little concern for the public trust values and the agricultural and recreational businesses dependent upon a healthy Bay Delta. The last time they went through the process the courts sent it back to them to redo - and when the revised Delta Plan is adopted, the results will be similar.”

On April 24, the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee failed to approve AB 1826, Frazier’s bill to end the Delta Stewardship Council in 2020 and transfer its duties to the Delta Protection Coalition.

Six Assemblymembers voted no, eight abstained and zero voted for AB 1826. The no votes were Chair Eduardo Garcia, Frank Bigelow, Steven S. Choi, Matthew Harper, Mark Levine and Rudy Salas.

Those abstaining included James Gallagher, Wendy Carrillo, Kansen Chu, Laura Friedman, Todd Gloria, Ash Kalra, Blanca E. Rubio and Jim Wood. 

The Delta Counties Coalition, Restore the Delta, North Delta Cares and the Delta Chambers and Visitors Bureau supported the legislation, while the Kern County Water Agency, Westlands Water District, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and other big water districts opposed the bill.  

A large number of other Delta Tunnels opponents, including representatives of Restore the Delta, North Delta Cares, Friends of the River, the Center for Biological Diversity, Sacramento Valley water districts, Delta farmers, business owners, fishing groups, San Joaquin, Sacramento and other Delta counties and the City of Stockton, spoke on behalf of the motion to stay the hearing and against the California Water Fix.

The Delta Tunnels are opposed by a diverse and broad coalition of people, including representatives of Indigenous organizations and Indian Tribes. During the public comment period at a hearing of the State Water Resources Control Board this February, Pennie Opal Plant of Idle No More SF Bay spoke on what is really at stake if the Twin Tunnels are built - water theft - and urged the board to reject the petition needed to build the California WaterFix.

“I am a signatory to the Indigenous Women of the Americas - Defenders of Mother Earth Treaty Compact 2015. We can’t live without water and neither can our non-human relatives. The WaterFix is a water theft. You cannot approve the WaterFix,” urged Plant.

”From my heart to yours, especially to the women, our babies swim in the seas of our wombs. Please protect this water and the life that lives inside of our bellies. Please protect this sacred system of life that swims in the Delta. If we don’t protect the Delta now, it’s going to be damaged beyond the capability to maintain human and non-human life. It’s up to us,” she stated.

Photo by Dan Bacher. 

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