Contra Costa reacts swiftly to revised Delta peripheral canal plan

Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho

Contra Costa County, whose leaders have been fending off a peripheral canal for more than three decades, reacted swiftly and negatively to a joint federal-state announcement today of a new Delta water diversion proposal.

“We need science before size,” said Contra Costa County Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho, who also sits on the Delta Protection Commission, Delta Conservancy and helped found the Delta County Coalition. “Science should drive the capacity of any project, not the other way around. It is completely unacceptable.”

See my colleague Steve Harmon’s full story here.

(ADDED 5:29 P.M. East Bay congressional representatives also blast plan. See full statements below.)

Smaller options must be evaluated, and science and the economic impacts of any pipeline must be more than “considered, as the announcement today said,” Piepho added.

“It’s easy to ‘consider’ something for 3 seconds, then shove it off the table and go back to your primary objective, which is to pipe massive amounts of Delta water into Southern California,” she said.

Supervisor Karen Mitchoff echoed her colleague’s dismay via  a text message from Sacramento, where she watched the announcement.

“If people believe what (Gov. Jerry Brown) and (Interior Secretary Ken) Salazar said today, I think there’s still a bridge available for sale,” Mitchoff said. “The plan will sacrifice the interest of one part of the state for the interests of others.”

The county, the Contra Costa Water District and others say the diversion will degrade both the environment and drinking water quality for tens of thousands of East Bay residents. The county board of supervisors formally opposed the plan in early July.

In contrast, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein wholeheartedly endorsed the pact, calling it a “major step toward a real solution in the Sacramento-Delta.” Feinstein led the federal legislation mandating completion of a Bay-Delta Conservation Plan by February 2013. See her press release issued today below.


Feinstein: Path Emerges to Implement Bay Delta Conservation Plan

Washington—The state of California and two federal agencies today announced a revised strategy to complete and implement the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), the comprehensive proposal to ensure water supply reliability for millions of Californians and guide Delta ecosystem restoration for the next 50 years. State and federal regulatory agencies are expected to complete the draft plan and initiate the formal environmental review process this fall.

“This new approach is a major step toward a real solution in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). “For the first time since this effort began six years ago, we now have the basis of a coordinated, consolidated plan to achieve the joint goals of ecosystem restoration and reliable water supplies for the 25 million Californians who rely on Delta water. I remain committed to the BDCP process and fully support this action.”

In 2011, Senator Feinstein passed legislation requiring completion of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan by February 15, 2013. The bill also established the federal commitment to the co-equal goals of Delta ecosystem restoration and California water supply reliability, paralleling state law.

The agreement was announced today in Sacramento by California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Assistant Administrator Eric Schwaab.

The plan reduces the number of intake facilities necessary to convey water through the Delta from five to three and reduces the total conveyance capacity from 15,000 to 9,000 cubic feet per second to minimize potential environmental impacts.

Improvements to the BDCP planning process include a commitment to developing clear biological objectives that protect species, independent scientific review, sustaining Delta communities and protecting upstream water users from adverse impacts. The revised proposal and a full range of alternatives will also be considered in the environmental review process.

california representatives condemn the bay delta conservation plan

 Cite lack of scientific support, devastating consequences for northern California

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, several U.S. Representatives from northern California responded to the unveiling of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP). The representatives have been vocal in their opposition to any BDCP agreement that is not based on sound science and will likely cause economic and environmental harm to the Bay-Delta and northern California.

The coalition of representatives have repeatedly called on the U.S. Department of the Interior to include the input of the Bay-Delta communities, demanding a seat at the table as the BDCP has moved forward. Today, Governor Jerry Brown and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that they intend to move forward with construction of a massive tunnel system underneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, ultimately shipping water south and economically and environmentally devastating the region. The members of Congress rejected the proposal by criticizing the void of scientific support as well as the utter lack of regard for current and future water rights for northern California.

“For years, I have been fighting against water exportation that would hurt our community. This BDCP plan is a travesty for northern California and will decimate our region, costing millions of dollars and thousands of jobs. This development is a huge breach of the public trust. Governor Brown and Secretary Salazar have shown today that they have little regard for the people of San Joaquin County. The families, farmers, and small business owners in northern California stand to have their livelihoods destroyed. This will have ruinous consequences for our local economy at a time when we already struggle with record unemployment,” said Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Stockton).

“Today’s proposed Bay Delta Conservation Plan missed a golden opportunity to develop sound water policy, instead choosing politics over science. It will cost jobs, harm our environment and is a bad deal for Northern California,” said Rep. Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena). “All that we’ve insisted on is that any BDCP be based on sound science. Given the announced preferred alternative, this was apparently too much to ask. Before making irreversible decisions, we need a transparent, comprehensive and impartial discussion, with all stakeholders at the table, on how this would impact the farmers, fishers and businesses that depend on the Delta for their livelihoods. Today’s announcement ignores the needs of Northern California and will devastate our economy.”

“I am troubled by the tone of today’s announcement,” said Rep. George Miller (D-Martinez). “If ‘getting it done’ means cutting corners, leaving out details, and getting ahead of the science, we’re not actually getting anything done – we’re just getting into a trap. There are parts of this proposal that are encouraging and are a step forward from previous efforts, but even after this morning’s announcement there’s a lot of work left to be done before any final decisions can be made. This process has to engage in the hard work of science – not just leap ahead before we know the impacts of this plan on the health and economy of the Bay-Delta and the communities that depend on it. Keep in mind what is at stake here – a badly designed plan can harm drinking water supplies, further endanger California’s salmon runs, and ruin the economic livelihood of tens of thousands in the fishing and related industries up and down our coast.”

“To solve California’s water issues, northern California must be part of the decision making process. Unfortunately we were not. Imagine if San Francisco decided to build the Golden Gate Bridge without consulting Marin County? The 9,000 cfs facility being proposed is simply not acceptable. It will cause massive impacts in the Sacramento area and suck our river dry. There are still a lot of unaddressed issues, and it is my sincere hope they will be addressed before any BDCP moves forward,” said Rep. Doris O. Matsui (D-Sacramento). “This proposal will also put at risk Senior Water rights that Sacramento County and the Delta region hold. As the member of Congress that represents the Sacramento region, ‘home’ of the project’s massive infrastructure, I can tell you there are no benefits to Sacramento, only negative impacts.”

 “If the State rushes to build a 9,000 cfs water project without doing the science on how it would divert the river, then the Delta will suffer, and farming and fishing jobs that depend on it will be lost. California fishermen and fisherwomen are just recovering from three years of disaster, and now a 50-year permit is being rushed for water contractors for a project that would sell Northern California communities down the river. A plan this reckless will not succeed,” said Rep. Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo).

“Today I flew back to California to make it clear to state and federal lawmakers where I stand: the 9,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) conveyance facility being proposed could wreak havoc on the Delta and the jobs it sustains and put existing water rights in the Delta and Northern California at risk,” said Rep. John Garamendi (D-Fairfield). “It is possible for California to solve its water problems, but the Delta and Northern California counties must be at the table, and it will take a comprehensive, multifaceted approach, not just a piece of plumbing in the Delta. We must address the needs of all Californians by prioritizing storage, conservation, recycling, levee improvements, and habitat restoration. A BDCP without these elements is incomplete at best.”

Link to video footage of today’s press conference: http://youtu.be/01AwRfzEajo.





Lisa Vorderbrueggen

  • Elwood

    It’s Jerry Brown’s wet dream–the Peripheral Tunnel.

    And yes, size does matter.

  • JohnW

    Since those pipes would be so big, maybe they could run the high speed rail tracks through there too. It would be the world’s first hydrated high speed rail system.

    What choice do we have? Need to get water to those cotton growers, California being such a natural environment for that crop and all.

  • RR senile columnist

    Yeah, them country boys down in LA need that sweet water to flavour their small-batch vodka.

  • Elwood

    Well, Jerry now has two legs of the Triple Crown: The high speed choo choo to nowhere, the Peripheral Tunnel and

    I wonder what’s next? A space program?

    Oh, wait–

  • Rick K.

    “Live Shot” Garamendi yet again claims that he is from “Fairfield”. Until a few months ago, Garamendi claimed in press releases that he was from “Walnut Creek” rather than his real home in Walnut Grove, probably to distract people from the fact that he lived on the periphery of his current district. Bay Area News Group usually is among the few responsible news outlets that change these references to “D-Walnut Grove”, but not here. Similarly, Jackie Speier claims to be “D-San Mateo”, but I think that she really lives in the super-upscale city of Hillsborough. In contrast, note that Mike Thompson says that he is “(D-St. Helena)”, where he actually lives. It will be curious in another year to see if he suddenly pulls a Garamendi and starts sending out press releases that say “D-Santa Rosa” or “D-Vallejo”. Lesson: take legislators and their press releases with a grain of salt because career politicians like “Live Shot” Garamendi will distort even the most basic facts to advance their own agendas.

  • Josh Richman

    @5 – It’s a point well-taken, but there has been a change in our stylebook for this.

    During the ANG Newspapers years and continuing through the BANG-EB years, our policy was to list the lawmaker’s home town, e.g., “Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove.”

    But since our final editorial consolidation with the Mercury News, we’ve been instructed to adopt the Merc’s style of using the lawmaker’s district office; I don’t particularly like this change, but it’s not my decision to make. Garamendi has district offices in Antioch, Walnut Creek and Fairfield.

    And you’re right, BTW – Jackie Speier lives in Hillsborough.

  • Elwood

    Jerry Brown has announced the third leg of his lunatic triple crown.

    He will build a tunnel to the moon and run his high speed choo choo through it.

    Jerry estimates that 50,000 people will ride the choo choo everyday at a fare of $10 million round trip. At that rate the project will pay for itself in only 174 years.

  • JohnW

    I can see plenty of logic to using the district office designation. It gives the reader an indication of what area the person is elected to represent. Party affiliation and the district a congressman or legislator represents is the first bit of information I want to know when I see his or her name connected to a vote or issue. What town they are from, or whether they are carpetbaggers (i.e., Tom McClintock) is interesting biographical information, but secondary to figuring out what determines their politics. Also, the home town designation can be very misleading, since that domicile may be a rented room in some friend’s basement.

  • Truthclubber

    Three words to describe how we can force the Southland to not try to steal our snowpack runoff fresh water for their cotton, rice and other “ditch irrigation” crops, as well as irrigating all of those Palm Desert golf courses:

    Solar powered desalination.

    They want water THAT badly (and wastefully)?

    Let them reclaim it from the Pacific and dump the excess brine off the Santa Monica pier.

  • JohnW

    Re: #9

    I agree about the desalination. I thought LA was working on that. Agriculture and the Southland should get water from the North, but not at the expense of the Delta ecosystem or for those wasteful crops and uses mentioned. Desalination definitely needs to be a big part of the mix.

  • Elwood

    “Solar powered desalination”

    At this point in the development of both solar power and desalination, treadmills powered by unicorns are just as likely.

    In the real world, about the only place where desalination is in wide use is in the oil fiefdoms of the Mideast where energy is almost too cheap to meter.

    In this country, the energy requirements are staggering, and the disposal of the toxic brine is a major environmental problem.

    You boys are playing in my yard now. I have experience in and knowledge of this field.

  • Truthclubber

    @10 —

    “I thought LA was working on that.”

    Are you high, or do you just like to pretend you’re some kind of salon-like savant who’s “up on everything”?

    Do your research before opening your e-mouth.

    Sometimes “I just don’t know about that” is the right answer, no matter how painful it is for the ego…

    LA doesn’t want to pony up the money it would take to break themselves of the cheap and easy access to snow melt aqua-goodness — and it would seem that they have Governor Moonbeam II by the short hairs…

  • Truthclubber

    @11 —

    “I have experience in and knowledge of this field.”

    Right. Sure. Just like you’re a lifelong registered Democrat and a non-racist.

    From the earlier link:

    Every major city in drought-stricken Australia — which had no desalination plants five years ago — is now either constructing or operating one. Officials there acted “out of crisis and desperation,” said water industry analyst Debra Coy, and now California “may not be too far behind.”

    Too bad you just posted that “…the only place where desalination is in wide use is in the oil fiefdoms of the Mideast…”

    Last time I checked, Melbourne and Sydney were “not” in Dubai…

    Go lie somewhere else.

  • Elwood

    “Every major city in drought-stricken Australia — which had no desalination plants five years ago — is now either constructing or operating one.”

    Desperate measures for desperate times.

    I wonder where the energy comes from (solar powered unicorns?) and how they dispose of the brine? Somehow I have the feeling that environmental restrictions in Australia may not be as severe as those in CA.

    Read your own link.

  • Truthclubber

    @14 —

    You will NEVER know as much about how solar is transforming our economy as I do.

    First off, I proved you to be flat out wrong about your statement that “the only place where this is happening is the Mideast” — and you didn’t have the cojones to admit it. That alone tells me all I need to know about YOU.

    Deperate measures call for desperate times?

    Damn straight they do.

    I hear that Rush Limbaugh is looking for an assistant to hold aloft the Oxycontin IV drip during his weekly bloviations on his EIB radio barf-fest — I suggest you apply, as you will NEVER, NEVER, NEVER know as much as I do about the emerging energy economy.

    As for the brine — it is, in the final analysis, merely salt with very little water, and more ecologically sound than the “plastic fantastic” garbage cloud in the middle of the Pacific as I type this, since it DOES dilute over time back to the regular saline levels found in ocean water.

    In the final analysis, desal via solar is a perfect solution, since it involves zero carbon pollution, and eventually equilibrates the ocean to the same saline level it was at — it’s just a matter of cost, and that’s the heart of the argument — the Southland farmers are too “cucking fheap” to want to pay for the right way to get the water they want for their open ditch irrigation ways of watering their cotton and rice crops; donations to Moonbeam II’s 2014 re-election campaign seem to be more cost effective.

  • Rick K.

    @ #6 Mr. Richman, thanks for sharing the differences between BANG and Mercury News style on how members of Congress are identified. The Mercury News style, to use any city where is district office is located, is nonsensical. The longstanding tradition is that a member of Congress is “of” his or her city of residence. Use of any district office creates a perverse incentive for members of Congress to open as many offices as possible, even if the “office” has no staff based there. Many city governments, Antioch for example, lease office space to members of Congress for nominal costs. This allows the congressmember to claim to be “of” that city in the local paper. It is not beneath most politicians to spend more public funds in order to bolster their own political prospects. Garamendi’s main office is in Walnut Creek ($1976 rent per month); the monthly rents in Fairfield and Antioch are $650 and $50 respectively (according to http://www.disbursements.house.gov). The funny thing about “Live Shot” Garamendi is that he claimed to be “D-Walnut Creek” until his press release last summer announcing that he would run in the new CD-3. With that press release, Garamendi suddenly started claiming to be “D-Fairfield”, which not coincidentally happens to be the largest city in both his current district and in the new CD-3. Politicians should not be allowed to micro-manage their image and manipulate their electoral prospects by playing “musical office locations” with each shift of the political wind. I suggest that “Live Shot” Garamendi publicly identify himself for what he really is “D-Buffoon”.

  • Elwood

    Toothsucker, you seem to be suffering from cognitive dissonance.

    Either you can’t read or you are deliberately distorting my words.

    What I said was “about the only place where desalination is in wide use is in the oil fiefdoms of the Mideast.” You say I said: “the only place where this is happening is the Mideast”

    I said “Desperate measures for desperate times.” You say I said “Deperate measures call for desperate times?”

    You obviously have reading comprehension problems. Either that or you are deliberately lying.

  • JohnW

    Re #10


    What the dickens is wrong with you? First, “I thought LA was working on that” was not a claim to be an expert on the subject. It was a simple reaction to an online inquiry I had done a a day or so earlier after the tunnel proposal was announced. I was curious as to whether any desalination initiatives were being explored in Southern CA (it being a desert area close to the ocean and all) and found out that indeed there was some start and stop activity — presumably slowed down by the very issues mentioned by Elwood.

    Secondly, my message expressed AGREEMENT with YOUR point that this was something that should be considered as an alternative to taking more and more of the limited and increasingly unreliable supply of water from the snowpack.

    For expressing some curiosity on the subject and doing a little online checking and for AGREEING with you, you jump all over my case. Does anything ever make you happy!

  • Truthclubber

    @17 and @18 —

    Am I starting to get under your skin?

    Both of you have no clue what you are talking about in this area, and were factually called out on that, and are now caught spending time when the rest of us are peacefully asleep (@17: 12:16 am; @18: 2:52 am) desperately trying to “ad hominen attack” your precious “know-it-all” self-images back toward something your fragile egos are comfortable with.

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    Whatever your views, you gotta admit Mary Piepho is as cute as Sarah Palin.

  • JohnW

    Re: #20

    Article in Friday’s NYT. Strip clubs in Tampa are eager for the influx of Republican convention goers. Based on past national political conventions, the “industry” has determined that Republicans spend three times as much as Democrats.

    One of the the clubs has announced that it will be featuring a dead-ringer for the former Alaska governor. My guess is that she will have no shortage of takers for the lap dances.

    According to the story, “Promise Keepers” were also eager patrons when they held their convention in Tampa. They even wore their “Promise Keeper” ID’s and name tags to the clubs. Go figure.

  • Readers:
    We all knew the canal project was going to happen, either the canal or the pipes under ground. Why is everyone worried that we will be giving water from the North to the South part of the state? The water belongs to the whole state. Farmers in the south will benefit as well as the North farmers who will sell the water going South. The largest issue is that it will create jobs in our state. WAKE UP CALIFORNIANS WE ARE IN DEEP DOO DOO IN THIS STATE. Remember whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting for.

  • JohnW

    Re: #22

    Tom Benigno, what’s your view on using these limited water resources to grow crops like cotton and rice in California?

  • Elwood

    We all knew?

    Don’t hold your breath, Tom.

    Construction might start in 30 years. Or not.

    Speaking of deep doo doo, your post comes to mind.

  • Elwood:
    You can support what issue you want, but don’t tell me I can’t support what issues I want to support.

    For John W.
    I think we must be smart on what kind of crops we plant in certain areas. Rice seems to do well in areas with rain fall. Cotton may have a different impact on limited water areas, large farmers seem to do well with the cotton, but they have no competition. The Canal will get water to those areas we speak of very soon.

  • Elwood

    “don’t tell me I can’t support what issues I want to support.”

    You can support whatever you want to support, Tom. I was merely commenting on your post.

    Touchy, touchy!