River Watch Header Image

Appeal by Environmental Water Caucus

Hi Alan: I’m writing to personally urge you join the Environmental Water Caucus’ detailed comments to the fifth draft of their Delta Plan.  This Plan, mandated by the State Legislature, will affect virtually every citizen and largely shape the water landscape in California for decades to come.  It will guide the path to restoring one of the world’s great estuaries or write its obituary.  It will determine the future abundance of our fisheries and the quality of our waters from the Sierra to the Sea and from the North to the South.  Unfortunately, the Plan is seriously deficient.

Below is a brief descriptive request that we’re circulating to the larger environmental and fishing community.  Attached is our comment letter.  Beyond asking Coast Action Group to join, we’re also requesting that you circulate this request to all organizations you believe might be willing to sign on and then follow up with them.  Let me know if you have any questions.  EWC’s website is http://www.ewccalifornia.org/home/index.php.  Thanks!!!  Cheers!

Please copy Nick Di Croce (Nick De Croce <troutnk@aol.com>) and myself the authorizing individual, organization and logo by September 27.  Thanks!  Cheers!

EWC Appeal

We are contacting you because the Delta Stewardship Council is developing a plan that will affect almost every major water body and every water user in the state.  Unfortunately, the plan memorializes the status quo and pays homage to the brotherhood of major water districts whose objectives for the state’s waters are far different from yours.

We are the California Environmental Water Caucus. For 25 years we have been fighting the battles of the Bay Delta and its tributary rivers. Our 31 member organizations range from conservation groups such as the Planning & Conservation League and the Sierra Club, to commercial and sportfishing interests such as the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, to river organizations such as Friends of the River and Sacramento River Preservation Trust, to tribes such as the Winnemen Wintu and Karuk, as well as water quality organizations such as the California Coastkeeper Alliance and Clean Water Action.

The Caucus has created a detailed response letter to the Council in which we identify the Plan’s legal and substantive deficiencies and recommend reasonable and achievable alternatives. Over the coming year, we will either begin the path to restoring one of the great estuaries of the world or write its obituary.  It is critical that the voices and interests of the broad environmental community be represented as the Delta Plan nears completion.

We request that you review the attached copy of our response letter and sign on in support of our expressed concerns and recommendations.  The following summarizes our main findings and recommendations:

  • All of the following recommendations require the application of the Public Trust doctrine and the economic analyses that accompany a balancing of the Public Trust with other traditional alternatives.
  • The Delta is over appropriated and unless exports are reduced to a scientifically permissible level, the Delta cannot be recovered in any scientifically acceptable sense.
  • The over appropriation stems primarily from CVP and SWP contract levels which cannot be met in most years.  The contracts need to be reduced by the State Water Board to a more sustainable yield level.
  • Delta outflow must be increased in keeping with the State Water Board’s Delta Flows Criteria, which will favorably impact Delta ecosystems and migrating fish species.
  • An aggressive water efficiency program – more aggressive and of longer duration than the current state’s 20/20 program – is a necessary component for reducing reliance on the Delta and must include both urban and agricultural users.
  • The water use reductions and savings shown in EWC report alternatives make major structural alternatives such as a canal or tunnel through the Delta and further surface storage unnecessary for water supply reliability.
  • The Delta Stewardship Council should accept and support the Delta Protection Commission’s recommendation in their Economic Sustainability Plan to:  “Improve many [core] Delta Levees beyond the PL 84-99 [standard] that addresses earthquake and sea-level rise risks, improve flood fighting and emergency response, and allow for vegetation on the water side of levees to improve habitat.  Improvement of most core Delta levees to this higher standard would cost $1 to $2 billion. While this is a longer-term program, planning should be initiated immediately.”
  • Irrigation water should no longer be provided to impaired farmlands in the San Joaquin Valley, in accordance with the state water code requirements for reasonable and beneficial use of water.
  • The Delta ecosystems and wildlife cannot be restored without significant reductions of pollutants that are currently being poured into the Delta or without significant improvements in the habitats of the Delta.
  • The Kern Water Bank, originally established as a statewide resource but now in private ownership, should be returned to public ownership.
  • As recommended in recent federal biological opinions, evaluations of fish passage around major Central Valley dams connected to the Delta should be conducted in order to determine the possible benefits to endangered salmonid species.
  • The state needs to ensure that low-income California communities are provided safe and affordable water for basic human needs.

The first five pages of our 46-page letter, as well as the above points, contain the essence of our concerns and alternative recommendations.  If you concur with our directions, we urge you to join us. We need your acknowledgment, your authorizing individual’s name and title, and a copy of your organization’s logo (via email) by September 27.

Bill Jennings, Chairman
Executive Director
California Sportfishing Protection Alliance
3536 Rainier Avenue
Stockton, CA 95204
p: 209-464-5067
c: 209-938-9053
f: 209-464-1028
e: deltakeep@me.com
www.calsport.org