Water Policy


Jerry Brown's Peripheral Canal or Tunnel Hasn't Been Downsized

By Dan Bacher

Delta advocates dismissed claims made by the Brown administration that the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral canal or tunnel is being "downsized."

"The chunnel has not been downsized," challenged Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta (RTD) executive director. "While three intake pumps may only pump 9,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) of Sacramento River flows, the chunnel pipe itself - according to Resource Agency claims - will be sized to carry 15,000 cfs, nearly the entire flow of the Sacramento River."

"What is to stop project operators from simply adding a few more intake pumps, especially after they ‘configure’ the science to justify taking more water away from the Delta?” she asked.

Peripheral Canal Is Not 'Almost Assured'

By Dan Bacher

The San Francisco Chronicle editorial published on June 3, "California Peripheral canal coming soon," poses many good questions challenging the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build a peripheral canal or tunnel.

However, the statement that "a proposed giant canal to move water from Northern California to the south appears almost assured" is not supported by any facts.

In reality, the plan is even more tenuous now than it was five years ago when Arnold Schwarzenegger resurrected the project, a Nineteenth Century solution to Twenty-First Century problems, in a cynical effort to create a monument to his "environmental" legacy.

Why is this peripheral canal plan destined to fail?

Metropolitan Water District Will Send You the Multi-Billion Dollar Bill

By Conner Everts, Southern California Watershed Alliance, and Adam Scow, Food & Water Watch

Last week Food & Water Watch, Southern California Watershed Alliance, and Green LA Coalition challenged the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) for its opposition to an independent cost-benefit analysis of the proposed multibillion-dollar Peripheral Canal or Tunnel project.

Who would get the water and who would pay the bill, which is now estimated to be $20 billion to upwards of $50 billion? MWD opposes an independent cost-benefit analysis. But it’s MWD customers and other water district ratepayers in the southland who would pay the bill.

AB 2421 would require such an analysis. The bill’s fate now rests with Assembly member Felipe Fuentes and Speaker John Perez, who will largely determine whether it advances or dies by May 25 in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Riverkeeper Files Lawsuit To Protect Shasta River Coho

By Dan Bacher

The Klamath Riverkeeper (KRK) Thursday filed a federal lawsuit over the harm caused to endangered coho salmon by Dwinnell Dam and a series of water diversions operated by Montague Water Conservation District (MWCD) on the Shasta River.

The Karuk Tribe also said it would file its own 60-day notice of intent to litigate on the same grounds on Friday, May 18.

The legal filing by the citizens group follows a 60-day notice period during which KRK offered MWCD an opportunity to negotiate a settlement outside the courtroom, according to a press release from KRK and the Tribe.

The March KRK letter stated, “Klamath Riverkeeper is interested in discussing effective remedies for the violations noted in this letter. If you wish to pursue such discussions in the absence of further litigation, we suggest that you initiate those discussions within the next 20 days so that they may be completed before the end of the 60‐day notice period."

Delta Stewardship Council Releases Plan Recommending Canal

By Dan Bacher

The Delta Stewardship Council staff on May 14 released the final draft Delta Plan, drawing a response from Delta advocates that “the fix is in” to build a peripheral canal or tunnel.

Council Executive Officer Joe Grindstaff touted the plan, submitted to the seven-member Council for review, comment and adoption, as "a common sense approach to achieving the coequal goals of restoring the Delta ecosystem and providing a reliable water supply for California.”

“We expect the Council to make revisions, and make a final decision after an appropriate environmental review,” he claimed.

Governor Brown Announces Appointments to State Water Board

By Dan Bacher

Governor Jerry Brown announced on Thursday the appointment of Felicia Marcus and Steven Moore to the State Water Resources Control Board and the reappointment of Charles Hoppin as the Board's Chair.

Felicia Marcus, 56, of Emeryville, has been western director at the Natural Resources Defense Council since 2008 and was executive vice president and chief operating officer at the Trust for Public Land from 2001 to 2008. She served as the administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 9 from 1993 to 2001.

Marcus was a commissioner on the City of Los Angeles Board of Public Works from 1989 to 1993 and served as president of the Board from 1991 to 1993. She has been a member of the Delta Stewardship Council since 2010.

This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $128,109. Marcus is a Democrat.

Secretary Laird Announces Delay In Release of Peripheral Canal Plan

By Dan Bacher

California Natural Resources Secretary John Laird announced Friday that the release of a controversial state-federal plan to build a peripheral canal or tunnel will be delayed.

In a May 3 letter to David Hayes, Deputy Secretary of the Interior, Laird said the state "will not be ready" to release public review drafts of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) and its environmental impact report/statement at the end of June, as originally expected.

Laird did not directly explain the reason for the delay, but said, "The fish and wildlife agencies are currently reviewing and responding to a substantially improved scientific analysis of habitat restoration, water flows, and other ecological measures to achieve regulatory standards of the federal Endangered Species Act and Natural Community Conservation Planning Act. As a result, we anticipate that we will soon be able to announce some significant adjustments in the overall program that will reflect our commitment to using the best science."

Bill Requiring Peripheral Canal Cost-Benefit Analysis Clears Committee

By Dan Bacher

In a major win for Delta advocates, the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee on April 24 voted 10 to 2 to approve legislation requiring an independent cost-benefit analysis before committing the public to pay tens of billions of dollars to build a peripheral canal or tunnel to divert more Delta water.

A coalition of consumer, environmental and fishing groups and Delta cities and counties backed the legislation, AB 2421 (B. Berryhill), while agribusiness groups, the California Chamber of Commerce and southern California water agencies opposed the bill.

Assembly Members Jared Huffman (D), Bill Berryhill (R), Bob Blumenfield (D), Nora Campos (D), Paul Fong (D), Beth Gaines (R), Das Williams (D), Roger Hernández (D), Ben Hueso (D) and Mariko Yamada (D) voted yes, while Ricardo Lara (D) and Linda Halderman (R) voted no. Brian W. Jones (R) didn't vote.

Hetch Hetchy Water Temple: A Monument To The 'Exploit' Of Nature, Says Restore Hetch Hetchy ED

By Dan Aiello
California Progress Report

The iconic Hetch Hetchy Water Temple in Woodside, built to celebrate the completion of the San Francisco Hetch Hetchy water system, should no longer be looked at with civic pride, says the executive director of Restore Hetch Hetchy.  

The neoclassical Water Temple welcomes thousands of visitors each year who drive, run or bike along Canada Road to picnic by its granite columns or, like my father did with me, to dangle unsuspecting and frightened children over its now-grated but still churning water within.  

Celebrating 40 Years of California Coastal Protection this Oceans Day

By Annie Notthoff
Natural Resources Defense Council

This past Oceans Day, as conservationists, fishermen, scientists and beachgoers gathered in Sacramento on Monday on behalf of our coasts and marine life, we have special reason to celebrate California’s leadership in coastal and ocean protection. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the California Coastal Program which has protected our Golden State’s 1,100 miles of beautiful, winding coastline for four decades and for generations to come.

Anyone who has wiggled their toes in the sugar-soft sand of California’s beaches or listened in awe to the waves crashing against our sheer cliffs knows what a special place the California coast is. But with an exploding population and increasing demands on our oceans and coastline, it’s thanks to the bold, determined leadership of the California Coastal Commission that we continue to enjoy the beauty and resources of our coast and ocean.