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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: Construction Will Begin in the Delta Without a Complete Environmental Review, Project Will Stop Freshwater from Flowing Through the Delta

January 19, 2016

Discussions about California water supplies have too often become a fact-free discourse that fail to advance 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.

It’s a Double Doozy Tuesday. The first Doozy this week comes from a press release, “Supervisors Decry Lack of Transparency in Governor’s Tunnel Plan Design and Construction Agreement,” from the Delta Counties Coalition on January 15, 2016: 

“…the region most affected by this plan for taking additional water from the Delta, was never consulted or even made aware of this outrageous plan to begin construction before a mandatory environmental review is completed.”

Some Facts for the Record: As required by state law, construction on California WaterFix cannot and will not begin until the environmental review process is complete and all necessary state and federal regulatory agencies have signed off on the project. Last week, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) posted a draft agreement that proposes one of the most transparent construction processes in the state’s history. This draft agreement is not final, has not been executed and would only go into effect after the project is permitted. To suggest that the project is commencing construction prior to completion of environmental review is simply untrue.

The second Doozy this week is from Restore the Delta, as quoted in Water Deeply’s Executive Summary for January 15 as written by Matt Weiser: 

“How will the Delta ever recover if fresh waters are never allowed to flow through it, even in rainy seasons?” she [Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta] said.

Some Facts for the Record: The proposed water operations for California WaterFix represent an increase, not a decrease, in environmental protections. Under no circumstances would California WaterFix stop freshwater from flowing through the Delta. Claims that flows would be curtailed, “even in rainy seasons,” are simply untrue.


The State Water Contractors is a statewide, non-profit association of 27 public agencies from Northern, Central and Southern California that purchase water under contract from the California State Water Project. Collectively the State Water Contractors deliver water to more than 25 million residents throughout the state and more than 750,000 acres of agricultural land.

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

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