Water Policy

Prop 37 Narrowly Defeated by Corporate Millions, Deceptive Ads

By Dan Bacher

Fishermen, environmentalists and consumer advocates were disappointed - but not surprised - by the narrow defeat of Proposition 37, the initiative calling for the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) food in California, on November 6.

GE food opponents said they will be ramping up the campaign across the country to make GE labeling the law in the coming year and are already organizing in over a dozen states.

Delta Leaders Line Up in Opposition of "Water Tunnels" Plan

By Dan Bacher

On October 24, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA) hosted a press conference in Sacramento urging more federal support for levees in rural parts of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and calling for a statewide cost-benefit analysis of the controversial Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP).

Joined by a bipartisan coalition of local leaders representing diverse Delta communities, Garamendi, a Member of the House Natural Resources Committee and former Deputy U.S. Interior Secretary under President Bill Clinton, said the cost-benefit analysis is necessary to ensure the plan does not cause harm to Northern California farming, fishing, and tourism.

Westlands Dumps Thousands Into Defeating Pro-Delta Candidates

By Dan Bacher

A review of Federal Election Commission records has exposed an effort by the politically powerful Westlands Water District to replace the two pro-Delta Representatives, John Garamendi and Jerry McNerney, with two candidates more aligned with their effort to drain the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

Congressional candidates Kim Vann and Ricky Gill have taken tens of thousands of dollars from the California Westside Farmers PAC and from individual Westlands board members and prominent growers, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Westlands Masquerades as "Tea Party" in Attack on Delta Film

By Dan Bacher

The Westlands Water District, regarded as the poster child of government-subsidized corporate agribusiness in California, is apparently posing as the anti-tax, anti-big government "Central Valley Tea Party" in an attack on Restore the Delta's documentary Over Troubled Waters.

In a statement, Restore the Delta (RTD) on October 3 exposed the effort by Westlands, one of the largest beneficiaries of taxpayer subsidies, for "masquerading" as the "Central Valley Tea Party" to instigate opposition to RTD's film documenting the public subsidies of water for huge, unsustainable corporate agribusiness on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.

RTD is a well-respected coalition of farmers, fishermen, environmentalists and business owners dedicated to a fair water policy in California.

Peripheral Tunnel Plan Details Released at Public Meeting

By Dan Bacher

The California Natural Resources Agency on August 29 held the first public meeting of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan in Sacramento since the Governor announced his controversial plan to build the peripheral tunnels on July 25.

Jerry Meral, the Deputy Resources Secretary, began the meeting by emphasizing that although the state and federal governments had chosen a preferred project, "there are still a lot of steps that the project must go through."

Meral updated the joint agreement announced by Governor Jerry Brown and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, reiterating and expanding upon many of the points announced in the July press conference.

$50 Billion Scheme Lets West Side San Joaquin Valley Growers Control More Water

By Barbara Barigan-Parrilla
Restore the Delta

Restore the Delta, local, state and federal elected officials, the Sierra Club, Food & Water Watch, the Planning and Conservation League, the Environmental Water Caucus, Friend of the River, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and a dozen other groups launched their campaign against the “Peripheral Tunnels” with a rally at the State Capitol on July 25. The “fatal flaws” of the tunnels would damage water, the environment, fish, and farming and impose billions of dollars of increases on water ratepayers.

Fishermen, Tribal Members and Enviros Blast Brown Tunnel Plan

By Dan Bacher

Over 300 people, including fishermen, environmentalists, family farmers, and a large contingent of members of the Winnemem Wintu, Pit River, Hoopa Valley and Miwok Tribes, protested Wednesday's announcement by Governor Jerry Brown and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to fast track the plan to build the peripheral tunnels around the California Delta.

During a press conference at the California Natural Resources Agency Building in Sacramento, Brown announced his plan for the construction of two peripheral tunnels with a capacity of 9,000 cfs that would take water from three intakes on the Sacramento River near Courtland and Hood to deliver water to corporate agribusiness on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and southern California water agencies.

California Legislators Back Request to Delay Canal Announcement

By Dan Bacher

Fifteen California legislators asked Natural Resources Secretary John Laird on July 6 to support the request of 12 Congressional Representatives to not finalize or formally announce the new framework for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral canal or tunnel "until a more detailed description is made available for review."

Senators Lois Wolk, Jared Huffman, Mark Desaulnier, Noreen Evans, Loni Hancock and Ellen Corbett and Assembly Members Alyson Huber, Joan Buchanan, Paul Fong, Susan Bonilla, William Monning, Dr. Richard Pan, Mariko Yamada, Michael Allen and Wesley Chesbro signed the letter to Laird.

"California and the Federal Government have a long history of missteps in the Delta," the Legislators wrote. "We urge you to put aside proposals that advance plumbing before policy and refocus the BDCP on the many sustainable solutions that can be supported by sound science and realistic financing."

Legislature Delays Water Bond Until November 2014

By Dan Bacher 

The California State Legislature voted on Thursday, July 5 to postpone the controversial water bond from November 2012 to November 2014 "to improve its odds of success with voters," according to a statement from Assemblyman Henry T. Perea's Office. 

Delta advocates have blasted the $11.14 water bond for funding questionable "habitat restoration" they say is designed to greenwash the construction of Governor Jerry Brown's peripheral canal or tunnel, an environmentally destructive and enormously expensive project to export more Delta water to southern California and corporate agribusiness. 

Thirty-Six Groups Demand Return To “Policy Before Plumbing”

By Dan Bacher

Thirty-six California fishing, environmental and consumer advocacy organizations on June 27 demanded that the Obama administration delay the imminent announcement of a peripheral canal or tunnel proposed under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) until “fundamental details” are made available.

“The Departments of Interior and Commerce are poised to join with the State of California to recommend the construction of a multi-billion dollar plumbing project before defining how much it will cost, how it will be operated, or how much water it will produce without environmental damage,” the groups wrote in a joint letter to Ken Salazar, Secretary of Interior, and Rebecca Blank, Secretary of Commerce.