[env-trinity] Delta Groups Rally Against The Panama Canal North

Dan Bacher danielbacher at fishsniffer.com
Thu Jul 9 14:45:14 PDT 2009




The exporting of more water out of the Delta not only dooms  
agriculture in the Delta, but also dooms one of the largest estuaries  
on the North American west coast,” stated Rudy Mussi, Central Delta  
farmer and Member of the Central Delta Water Agency.

Photo: Family farmers from North Delta Cares hold up a banner  
opposing the construction of "The Panama Canal North." Photo by Dan  
Bacher.



img_5828_1.jpg

Delta Groups Rally Against The Panama Canal North

by Dan Bacher

Legislators and hundreds of Delta advocates held a rally at the State  
Capitol in Sacramento on Tuesday to oppose the peripheral canal, a  
budget-busting and environmentally destructive project that would  
approximate the Panama Canal in width and length.

"I'm not going to vote for a plan that builds a Panama Canal down the  
middle of the 15th Assembly District,” exclaimed Assembly Member  
Joan Buchanan to loud applause from a crowd of recreational anglers,  
commercial fishermen, Delta farmers, farmworkers, Indian Tribal  
members and community activists. “I will do all I can to make that  
the Delta is protected.”

As she spoke, Delta family farmers from North Delta Cares and others  
held up banners proclaiming “The Peripheral Canal=Panama Canal  
North,” along with signs saying, “Fewer Water Exports, Not Fewer  
Delta Fish” and “Give the Delta a Voice!”

Buchanan said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Delta Vision Process  
calls for "improved conveyance" that will transport 15,000 cubic feet  
of water per second (cfs) from the Sacramento River around the Delta.  
This is smaller than the proposed 1982 peripheral canal, defeated  
overwhelmingly by the voters, that was intended to transport 22,000 cfs.

A conveyance to transport 15,000 cfs. would be between 500 and 700  
feet wide, requiring a 1300 foot right-of-way, based on an  
engineering report completed in August 2006 by Washington Group  
International for the State Water Contractors, “Isolated Facility,  
Incised Bay-Delta System – Estimate of Construction Costs.”

“That's the width of a 100 lane freeway,” said Buchanan. “The  
length of the conveyance would be between 47 and 48 miles.”

By comparison, the Panama Canal is between 500 and 1000 feet wide and  
is 50 miles long.

The rally was held not only to oppose the “Panama Canal North,”  
but to demand that Delta residents have a voice in ongoing water  
policy negotiations in the Legislature.

“The message today is quite simple,” said State Senator Lois Wolk  
D-Davis), who opened the rally. “You can’t fix the Delta without  
the people of the Delta as your partners.”

Wolk stated that changes to the Delta proposed by the Legislature and  
the Governor’s Bay Delta Conservation Plan and Delta Vision  
processes could mean increased exposure to pollutants in the waters,  
increased costs for water and water treatment, reduced farm  
production, greater loss of commercial fishing and a higher risk of  
flooding.

The rally took place on the day that a hearing regarding a package of  
water bills was originally scheduled. However, the hearing, which  
hundreds were expecting to attend, was cancelled and has not been  
rescheduled.

The coalition of canal opponents fears that the final package,  
developed through secret negotiations with no input from Delta  
residents, would fund the budget-busting canal at a time when  
California has a $24.3 billion deficit.

Peripheral Canal: A Bad Idea In 1982 and Even Worse Now

“The peripheral canal was a bad idea in 1982 and it’s an even  
worse idea today,” said Steve Evans, Conservation Director, Friends  
of the River. “Several court rulings have proven that the government  
can’t be trusted to operate a Peripheral Canal in a way that  
benefits the Delta. Instead it will be used to suck most of the fresh  
water from the Sacramento River for export to southern Central Valley  
agribusiness and southern California developers.”

Fisheries advocates said the canal must stopped because it will only  
exacerbate the collapse of Central Valley Chinook salmon, Delta  
smelt, longfin smelt, juvenile striped bass, threadfin shad,  
Sacramento splittail and other Delta fish populations.

Bill Jennings, Chairman/Executive Director of the California  
Sportfishing Protection Alliance, described the canal and dams  
proposal as “a legislative dash to the worst environmental disaster  
in American history” – and noted that the Delta is dying because  
existing environmental laws are being ignored.

“Discarding prudent legislative deliberation and oversight is likely  
to lead to wasting tens of billions of dollars constructing a massive  
white elephant that will destroy Delta fisheries and water quality,”  
said Jennings. “It will gravely damage the Delta economy, deliver  
less water than presently exported and cause increased litigation  
because of legal flaws and bad science.”

“The water exporters look at the Delta as a reservoir, but it is  
actually a living ecosystem,” said Zeke Grader, executive director  
of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations  
(PCFFA). “The life blood of California’s commercial salmon fishery  
is being drained out of the Delta as the freshwater is exported to  
San Joaquin Valley agribusiness.”

Farmers from throughout the Delta came in force to the rally. Farmers  
oppose the canal because increasing salinity caused by the canal  
would both destroy agriculture on one of the world's most fertile  
estuaries and devastate fish populations in order to export water to  
subsidized water to drainage impaired land on the west side of the  
San Joaquin Valley.

“The exporting of more water out of the Delta not only dooms  
agriculture in the Delta, but also dooms one of the largest estuaries  
on the North American West Coast,” stated Rudy Mussi, Central Delta  
farmer and Member of the Central Delta Water Agency.

Winnemem Wintu Tribe Fights for the Delta

Mark Franko, headman of the Winnemem Wintu (McCloud River) Tribe,  
held up a sign proclaiming, “Tribes Support Saving the Delta.” The  
Winnemem Wintu has been forefront in the battle to save the Delta and  
stop the peripheral canal. They are strongly opposing a federal plan  
to raise Shasta Dam that is a linchpin in the plan to export more  
water out of the Delta through the canal.

“The peripheral canal is a big, stupid idea that doesn’t make any  
sense from a tribal environmental perspective,” said Franco.  
“Building a canal to save the Delta is like a doctor installing an  
arterial bypass from your shoulder to your hand– it will cause your  
elbow to die just like taking water out of the Delta through a  
peripheral canal will cause the Delta to die.”

Robert Johnson, Delta fly fishing enthusiast and founder of  
Californians Against the Canal, pointed out the absurdity of the  
state funding the enormously expensive canal and more dams at a time  
when the state is laying off teachers and nurses and mandating three  
unpaid furlough days a month for state employees. He urged the state  
to find sustainable alternatives to meet California's water needs.

“The Peripheral Canal and Sites and Temperance Flat Dams will cost  
over $40 billion, including interest, and not provide a DROP of  
additional water,” said Johnson. “How can state legislators allow  
this secretive, hugely expensive bond measure to be jammed through  
without rigorous debate exploring the alternative Alternatives that  
will provide over 10 million acre feet of water for the state – more  
water than has ever been exported from NorCal?“

Likewise, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, campaign director of Restore the  
Delta, said, “We want real solutions – programs and projects that  
will capture, recycle, and treat water – programs that are cost  
effective and environmentally sound – programs that will stop the  
insanity of moving water from north to south through or around the  
Delta.

Freddie Morales, a young farmworker from Alpaugh in the San Joaquin  
Valley, illustrated the irony of corporate agribusiness campaigning  
to export more water from the Delta when they continually deny clean  
drinking water to farmworkers in rural communities.

“We need clean drinking water and the water is bad in my  
community,” he said. “People get sick from it.”

Elected officials who spoke at the rally included Lt. Governor John  
Garamendi, State Senator Mark DeSaulnier, Assemblymembers Alyson  
Huber and Mariko Yamada, and Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors  
representative Mary Piepho, speaking for the assembled County  
Supervisors from the five Delta counties.

Other speakers included Charlotte Hodde, Water Program Manager of the  
Planning and Conservation League, Debbie Davis, Legislative Analyst  
for the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water and Jim Metropulos,  
Senior Advocate for Sierra Club California.

The Delta’s Voice Must Be Heard!

Canal opponents emphasized that while the Legislature is on the verge  
of considering a massive and costly restructuring of California’s  
water laws and water infrastructure, there have been no public  
hearings even as the Legislative policy committees are set to  
complete their work.

“A series of secret bills, not yet in official language, are set to  
be merged and will cover several contentious water issues including  
governance of the Bay-Delta region, water conservation, new dams and  
an updated version of the multi-billion dollar Peripheral Canal,  
which was overwhelming rejected by California voters in 1982,”  
according to a statement from Restore the Delta.

Expressing concern that the public and most legislators have not seen  
the legislative language and the bills are only scheduled for a  
cursory policy committee hearing instead of allowing for public  
input, the group called for public hearings where the voices of Delta  
residents, farmers and fishermen are heard and acted upon in a spirit  
of openness and transparency.

“Delta communities need to have a major voice in the process,”  
concluded Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla. “Without public hearings, the  
more than 500,000 Californians who live and work in the Delta are  
being denied the opportunity to hold a major voice in the process.”

For more information about what you can do to stop the peripheral  
canal, go to http://www.calsport.org, http://www.restorethedelta.org  
and http://www.stopcanal.org.


§
Assemblymember Lois Wolk
by Dan Bacher Thursday Jul 9th, 2009 11:56 AM



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§
Assemblymember Mariko Yamada
by Dan Bacher Thursday Jul 9th, 2009 11:56 AM



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§
Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi
by Dan Bacher Thursday Jul 9th, 2009 11:56 AM



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§
Bill Jennings, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance
by Dan Bacher Thursday Jul 9th, 2009 11:56 AM



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§
Zeke Grader, PCFFA
by Dan Bacher Thursday Jul 9th, 2009 11:56 AM



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§
Robert Johnson, Californians Against the Canal
by Dan Bacher Thursday Jul 9th, 2009 11:56 AM



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§
Charlotte Hodde, Planning & Conservation League
by Dan Bacher Thursday Jul 9th, 2009 11:56 AM



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§
Mark Franko, headman of Winnemem Wintu Tribe
by Dan Bacher Thursday Jul 9th, 2009 11:56 AM



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§
Members of North Delta Cares at the Rally
by Dan Bacher Thursday Jul 9th, 2009 11:56 AM



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§
Jim Cox and other members of the California Striped Bass Association  
(CSPA)
by Dan Bacher Thursday Jul 9th, 2009 11:56 AM



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