CA Gov's Bay Delta Conservation Plan Lacks Answers

Levee inspector Gene Vaughan, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District, documents findings during a routine levee inspection on the Sacramento River near Rio Vista, Calif., March 27, 2013. (U.S. Army photo by Chris Gray-Garcia/Released)As many taxpayers were scurrying to send in their state and federal taxes on April 15, three environmental groups asked the big, unanswered question looming over the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the twin tunnels: Who will pay?

"With just 60 days remaining for public examination and comment, the parties involved in the creation, planning and implementation of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) have failed to reveal a binding Implementation Agreement (IA) showing how the Delta tunnels project will be financed, built or operated," according to a news release from Restore the Delta, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance and the Environmental Water Caucus.

The groups said the "continuing failure" to file the agreement without specificity and detail highlights the unwillingness of water exporters to document a commitment to funding construction and mitigation costs for the proposed Delta tunnels project. Specific financing information for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan has not been included in the 40,000 page BDPC Plan and corresponding EIR.

Bill Jennings, executive director, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA), said, "If they cannot explain in the implementation agreement how the 40,000 pages of fantasy in the BDCP and the EIR are going to be implemented or financed, then how can the public be expected to comment effectively by June 13, 2014, or any date for that matter?"

"State and Federal Water Contractors have refused to make binding commitments to ensure species recovery nor have they agreed on how to finance or operate the tunnels project that has only been 10% designed," said Restore the Delta (RTD) Executive Director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla. "The cost of this project has ballooned so high that many of the water exporters are already backing away from paying their share of costs. We hope that when the governor and water exporters finally see the real BDCP cost numbers, they will join us in advocating for more reasonable alternatives."  

"What the current drought crisis shows us is that all rules and laws protecting the Delta, which had been created to deal with standards for dry conditions, are subject to rollback, even when the cause behind the crisis is mismanagement," said Nick di Croce of the Environmental Water Caucus (EWC). "The lateness and lack of specificity in the Implementation Agreement demonstrates that the BDCP would never be managed or governed for the health of the estuary. It would be operated to drain every last drop out of the system to send to Westlands and the Kern County Water Agency."

For more information, contact:
Steve Hopcraft 916/457-5546; steve [at] hopcraft.com; Twitter: @shopcraft; @MrSandHillCrane
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla 209/479-2053 barbara [at] restorethedelta.org; Twitter: @RestoretheDelta
Bill Jennings, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance - deltakeep [at] me.com; 209/938-9053
Nick di Croce, Environmental Water Caucus - 805-688-7813; troutnk [at] aol.com

Friends of the River, in response to the refusal by Bay Delta Conservation Plan officials to post public comments, on April 10 announced that it is posting all comments made on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) Water Tunnels project on its website, http://www.friendsoftheriver.org, under the heading Bay Delta Conservation Plan Public Comment Library.

According to the announcement from Friends of the River, "It is imperative that public interest organizations, public agencies, and California citizens, taxpayers and ratepayers have access to comments made as they come in to assist them in spotting issues and formulating their own comments on the 40,000 pages of advocacy--the Plan and draft EIR/EIS-- touting the BDCP Water Tunnels."

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