United Delta Community Leaders: You Can’t Restore the Delta by Draining It

Posted on 16 March 2012

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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.

The proposal would not take any more water out of the Delta than they do now, how would that be "Draining the Delta"? How can you drain the delta because it's already at sea level and 70% of the annual inflow goes straight out to the ocean anyway?
I also don't understand why Stockton is an issue because they never get any water from the Sacramento River anyway, the only water that comes anywhere close has to go through the Delta Cross Channel which is part of the Federal project, would you like that shut too?
There is another thing in the Delta that needs to be addressed, that "good farmland" is good because of the Peat soils but farming practices are causing the soil to subside at about 1/2 an inch per year which is causing more pressure on the levees that are really just dirt piles. In the event that it is kept "business as usual" all the islands in the west delta will be under water anyway since you can't build levees that would effectively hold out 50' of water differential.
I do agree that they should not take out any more than they have stored in the reservoirs except in wet years where they can harvest excess water to help witht he levee freeboard but there is no really valid reason to stop this, unless Stockton is trying to do a water grab and take all the fresh water (like the State Fair Exhibit a few years ago). My question is, if you take all the fresh water from the Sacramento River, don't you then become liable for the cost of Oroville Dam - Burns Porter Act says that those that receive the benefit of the water pay for the cost of that water??? How would you like a NEW BILL for the cost of the dam?