United Delta Community Leaders: You Can’t Restore the Delta by Draining It
By Ann Johnston
Mayor of Stockton, Delta Coalition leader
How is it possible to restore the Delta by taking millions of acre-feet of water out of it each year? That is exactly what the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) proposes to do.
The Delta Coalition, a group of private businesses, local governments, environmental advocates, farmers and fishermen, are united in opposing any plan that would take millions of acre-feet of water out of the Delta every year and send it directly to multinational corporate agribusiness by a peripheral canal or tunnel. We have lost millions of acre-feet of water in recent decades, and that is why our Delta is so fragile now.
The Delta Coalition is working to provide balance and identify the best ways to preserve the environment and economy of the Delta while enhancing the habitat and providing a reliable water source. Our communities see the federal and state governments poised to repeat the mistakes and misappropriations of the past. The Delta has no ‘surplus’ water, and our fish and farms are already suffering. Our urban water districts are working hard to conserve water, and take just a small percentage of the Delta water.
The Bay Delta Conservation Plan supports the top 1% of multinational corporate agribusiness, which has been draining the Delta to raise crops such as almonds and cotton for export to China and India, not to feed America as they claim. The BDCP seeks to trade the livelihoods of sixth-generation family farmers operating small businesses for those of corporate agriculture tycoons. The top 1% of agriculture is pushing a plan that robs everyone to enrich themselves.
All factors that will impact the Delta and our economy need to be evaluated before any decisions can be made. Our levees need to be restored instead of spending billions of water district ratepayer dollars on an alternative - a tunnel or canal. A reasonable levee restoration effort and a water-sharing plan should be developed to benefit all Californians, not just a few huge growers.
Ensure “reliable water supplies”
Agriculture is the life-blood of the Delta, with nearly 80% of all farmland classified as prime agricultural land. Water is the life-blood of agriculture. Preserving and enhancing the Delta’s agricultural industry is vital to the region, the state, and the nation. In calculating value-added manufacturing, the statewide impact of Delta agriculture is about 25,000 jobs, nearly $5.4 billion in economic output and over $2 billion in economic value.
The Delta Coalition opposes the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) and the Delta Stewardship Council’s (DSC) implementation of the enabling legislation (2009 Delta Water Package) regarding the Delta Plan. It’s time to admit the mistakes of the past, not repeat them.
Ann Johnston is the mayor of Stockton, California.