[env-trinity] Fwd: For Immediate Release: Delta Counties Condemn Closed-Door Talks on the Future of the Delta

Moira Burke moira at onramp113.com
Thu Oct 14 11:53:59 PDT 2010


PLEASE CIRCULATE


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> FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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> October 1, 2010
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> Delta Counties Condemn Closed-Door Talks on the Future of the Delta
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> Demand greater transparency and a seat at the table
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> Sacramento, Calif.– The five Delta Counties yesterday condemned state and federal agency officials for holding private meetings with a select group of stakeholders in an attempt to reach agreement on a plan to address water supply problems south of the Delta. These meetings have excluded the Delta Counties, which means that major water policy that will significantly affect the Delta as it exists today is being developed without taking into consideration the very jurisdictions at the heart of California’s water supply hub. At issue is the development the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), which was incorporated by lawmakers in 2009 into far-reaching new legislation to address the reliability of California’s long-term water supply, while restoring the Delta’s fragile eco-system. 
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> In a letter addressed to the secretaries of the California Natural Resources Agency and the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Delta Counties Coalition, which is comprised of Contra Costa, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano and Yolo counties, raises serious concerns about the current closed-door process and its failure to include Delta communities that stand to be significantly impacted by the plan’s recommendations. The lack of transparency in these negotiations unfortunately reflects the typical way that water policy has historically been negotiated.
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> “We are profoundly disappointed with the current process of private discussions which have excluded the very communities with a great deal at stake in the future of the Delta. These talks are nothing more than business as usual and a clear violation of the spirit of the water package, which was crafted to guarantee significant public involvement,” said Contra Costa Supervisor Mary Piepho.
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> The Delta Counties have repeatedly raised concerns regarding the BDCP process and its failure to incorporate the Delta itself into the planning efforts. These five counties are home to more than four million residents and serve a $36 billion agricultural industry.  Water from the Delta provides a portion of the drinking water for 25 million Californians.
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> The letter also openly criticizes State Resources Secretary Lester Snow, who is co-leading the private talks, for recent statements he made in defense of the meetings, in which he suggested that “everyone is in the room.” 
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> In yet another example of bureaucratic overreach, Delta Counties have consistently been denied access to these meetings because these counties have failed to agree to a set of required preconditions that include upfront support for an alternative water conveyance system around the Delta, such as a canal or tunnel. 
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> Delta Counties argue that these preconditions are “inappropriate” and inconsistent with the goals of ensuring public participation and transparency, as required in the 2009 legislation. Delta Counties are also barred from accepting such preconditions given their legal and ethical responsibilities as elected leaders. 
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> Compounding the Delta Counties frustration is the recent release of a draft BDCP document, dated September 9.  Absent any public input, this document will be the basis for the BDCP Steering Committee to put the final touches on the environmental review portion of the BDCP plan, which is anticipated to be completed in the near future.
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> The Delta Counties state in their letter that this gets to “…the root of deep seated concerns that the Principals, convening in private meetings, are using the template of this discussion draft to engage in a process to draft the BDCP behind closed doors and then direct the Steering Committee to hold window dressing public meetings to proceed.”
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> Members of the Delta Counties Coalition reiterate the importance of trust, communication, transparency and fair representation in all discussions with state and federal agencies regarding the BDCP and its potential impacts to Delta communities.
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> “On behalf of the residents we represent, whose well being is directly tied to the Delta economy, we take offense to this process,” said Solano County Supervisor Mike Reagan. Elected members of the Delta Counties Coalition cannot protect the interests of community members if they are not kept informed of activities and proposals that directly impact their constituencies,” he added.
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> The Delta Counties Coalition, a consortium of five counties, Contra Costa, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano and Yolo, which is dedicated to giving one voice to the Delta, advocating on behalf of local government and the four million people living in the Delta Counties.
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> Amy O’Gorman Jenkins
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> Legislative, Intergovernmental and Public Affairs Officer
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> Solano County Administrator’s Office
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> 675 Texas Street, Suite 6500
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> Fairfield, CA 94533-6342
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> (707) 784-3002 - direct
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> (707) 291-3270 - cell
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> (707) 784-7975 - fax
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