[env-trinity] San Jose Mercury News 11-11-2010

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Fri Nov 12 08:51:22 PST 2010

Delta's health must take priority for California

San Jose Mercury News-11/11/10 



California's $25 billion budget deficit is not the biggest political
headache Jerry Brown faces as he returns to the governor's office. That
dubious distinction belongs to the ongoing battle over water.


The deadline for the draft of the long-awaited Bay Delta Conservation Plan
is Thursday. It's designed to serve as a road map to balance protecting the
Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta's environment with providing a reliable
water supply for farmers and cities. But the team of experts working on it
is reportedly nowhere near agreement on the most important issue: How much
water flow is needed to restore the health of the Delta? That must determine
how much is left for distribution to agriculture and to residential water
agencies throughout the state.


Among its many flaws, the draft plan fails to take into account an
independent, comprehensive study on the health of the Delta completed in
July by the state Water Resources Control Board. 


It concluded that users are taking twice as much water from the Delta as
they should, diverting as much as 50 percent. If this continues, the study
says, the Delta eventually will be unable to provide safe water to anyone.


It's inconceivable that a Bay Delta Conservation Plan could be offered
without taking this report into consideration.


Now we're told a consensus plan could take another year. There's little
choice but to wait, since a weak plan based on questionable science is 


worthless. Brown needs to make sure the next version deals with the science
in a credible way.


The Delta is the West Coast's largest estuary, providing about half of
Silicon Valley's water supply. Its health has been declining for years,
posing the threat that the quality of the water would become undrinkable.


Last year, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature put together an
$11 billion bond deal designed to fix the problem, but last summer they
decided to pull it from this fall's ballot: It was loaded with too much pork
to pass, even if voters could get beyond the fact that there's no real
agreement on what to do.


A workable plan needs the buy-in of urban dwellers, environmentalists,
agriculture, water agencies and the fishing industry. Besides restoring the
health of the estuary, funding is needed to repair the maze of 1,000 levees
that could collapse Katrina-style in a stormy year or a major earthquake.


The biggest frustration is that California really has enough water. It's
just that agriculture, which gulps 80 percent of it, has not been a partner
in conservation.


Schwarzenegger's deal called on urban users to reduce consumption by 20
percent but asked nothing of farmers. If ag conserved just 10 percent, there
would be no need for billions of dollars to pay for new water storage


Of course, now is a terrible time to put new burdens on the agricultural
Central Valley, whose economy is among the worst-hit in the nation. But
water is a long-term challenge, and the state has an obligation to preserve
a healthy Delta for generations to come.


Welcome back to the governor's chair, Mr. Brown.



Byron Leydecker, JcT

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 land

415 519 4810 mobile

 <mailto:bwl3 at comcast.net> bwl3 at comcast.net

 <mailto:bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org> bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org

 <http://fotr.org/> http://www.fotr.org 




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