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Delta Doozy

Discussions about the future of California water and of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) have too often become a fact-free discourse that is not advancing an informed discussion. The State Water Contractors’ “Delta Doozy” series was launched in order to distinguish the facts from the fiction and promote constructive dialogue. 

Delta Doozy: The Truth about Delta Exports

June 22, 2015

This week’s Doozy comes from a blog post, “State Water Contractors Not Satisfied Until They Grab Every Last Drop Out of Delta Watershed,” authored by Restore the Delta on June 18, 2015:

“We are perilously close to losing Delta smelt, and our iconic salmon fisheries, and despite Delta family farms already taking a voluntary 25 percent reduction in water use, the State Water Contractors believe the Delta should be made into a complete sacrifice zone for their water exports.”

Some Facts for the Record: The California Department of Water Resources and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation monitor how much water flows into the Delta, and how much water flows out of the Delta on a daily basis. Based on real-world measurements, the chart below provides a breakdown of where water has gone after entering the Delta since May 1. The State Water Project exported just 5% of Delta water since May 1. In dry and critically dry years, this low percentage is not unusual. Nor is the fact that landowners in the Delta take more water—by far—than the state and federal water projects combined.

WhereTheWaterWent copy_copy 

View the doozy here.

Delta Doozy: Public Water Agencies were Seeking 50-Year Permits and Habitat Restoration as a Ploy to "Pump Away Unimpeded"

This week’s Doozy comes from an opinion column, “Brown's Delta water tunnel plan: A million hours and still not shovel-ready,” written by George Skelton that appeared May 10 in the Los Angeles Times:

“And the real purpose [of restoring 100,000 acres of habitat] was to entice federal fishery agencies to grant the tunnel project a 50-year permit to pump away unimpeded.”

Some Facts for the Record: Permits to operate Delta water projects come with numerous conditions, and the proposed Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) process mentioned in this column was no exception.  Existing and future operations of the Delta water projects are overseen and regulated by state and federal wildlife agencies as well as the State Water Resources Control Board. Any proposed modernization must undergo intensive review and comply with numerous environmental laws – including the Endangered Species Act, the California Environmental Quality Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. Conveyance improvements alone are subject to and must meet all requirements of local, state and federal laws, regulations and permits, and pumping will remain subject to strict environmental limitations.

To suggest that public water agencies were seeking 50-year permits and habitat restoration as a ploy to “pump away unimpeded” is simply untrue.  

View the doozy here

Delta Doozy: Water Agencies Benefit from Outdated Water System During Drought

March 4, 2015

This week’s Doozy comes from an article, “Drought Shows Folly of Jerry Brown’s Delta Tunnels,” written by Dan Bacher that appeared March 3 in Indybay:

“As strange as it sounds, officials from the Westlands Water District, Kern County Water Agency and Metropolitan Water District should be profusely thanking Restore the Delta (RTD), fishermen, environmentalists and Tribal leaders for opposing Governor Jerry Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the twin tunnels.”

Some Facts for the Record:  Yes, that does indeed sound strange. The primary goal of modernizing the water system in the Delta has never been to capture large amounts of additional water in dry years. The goal has been to maintain the system’s ability to capture water in wet years and store some of this supply for dry years. The “fat levees” solution advanced by Restore the Delta is not the most cost effective alternative based on state-federal analysis. It poses major environmental and community effects to the Delta itself. 

To suggest that public water agencies are benefiting from today’s outdated water system during this drought by not investing in a long-term solution is simply not true. 

View the doozy here

Delta Doozy: Not Enough Water for Salmon because Cities and Farms are "Taking Their Share"

March 3, 2015

This week’s Doozy comes from an article, “600,000 Baby Salmon Head to the Pacific, With a Little Help,” written by Cynthia Gorney that appeared in National Geographic:

“It's not just that there isn't enough water; there's not enough cold water, especially after competing interests such as urban areas and big agriculture—each equipped with more political muscle than wild salmon advocates have—take their share.”

Some Facts for the Record: It is false to say that there isn’t enough water for salmon because cities and farms are “taking their share.” In reality, many cities and farms have received little to no water during the drought. The Central Valley Project export contract users, which serve farms throughout Central California, will get no water in 2015—the second year of zero allocations. Public water agencies that purchase water from the State Water Project and serve 26 million people and 750,000 acres of farmland received only 5 percent of the water they were contracted to receive in 2014 and are projected to get only 20 percent of their water in 2015.  

The vast majority of water that comes into the Delta first provides for upstream environmental purposes, such as maintaining cold water conditions for the benefit of wild salmon in the Sacramento River and other tributaries, before later providing for other purposes such as agricultural and municipal use. Cities and farms get a portion of what’s left, which in some cases, is none at all. To say that there isn’t enough water for salmon because it’s going to urban areas and agriculture is simply not true. 

View the doozy here

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