It’s not a great day for fans of the California Delta – at least those who’d like to see it become something other than a salt marsh (from the SF Chronicle).
An influential Cabinet-level group Friday released its prescription for the sickly Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, including a 2011 goal to break ground on a new canal system – without the approval of the California Legislature.
The panel backed away from creating a new governing body to oversee the delta or altering the California Constitution to say that the delta’s health is as important as supplying water to 25 million Californians. That differed from another governor-appointed task force that contended that new leadership and a constitutional amendment were needed to fix a fragile ecosystem that also serves as the hub of the state’s water supply.
In other words, the executive group adopted pretty much every recommendation of the Delta Vision group save those that offered any real protection for beleaguered waterway.
The walking-on-water Aquafornia blog posted excerpted reactions from multiple newspapers, including this from Phil Isenberg in the Sacramento Bee:
Isenberg had not seen the committee’s final report. But it adopted every proposal from his task force except one.
The task force recommended a new policymaking council to bring
cohesion to the more than 200 agencies that manage the 740,000-acre
estuary in a haphazard fashion. It viewed this as a key initial step
before starting major waterworks and habitat projects.
But the committee opted to delay the governance question while starting work in other areas, including canal planning.
â€œI think it’s too bad they didn’t make a recommendation on that,â€
Isenberg said. â€œI’m not shocked, but it’s too bad because everyone in
the puzzle knows you can’t fit the pieces together without a governance
I’m on my way out the door right now, but it’s hard to support any water solution that doesn’t involve specific guarantees for the California Delta, which the state’s water users have treated roughly the same way a baby treats a diaper.
Update: Dan Bacher (Fish Sniffer editor) weighs in on the plan, and it’s not pretty. Here’s only one passage from his editorial:
The plan includes a timeline of proposed actions and associated events for the destruction of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the largest and most significant estuary on the West Coast of the Americas. One of the amazing things about the plan is the sequence of events and actions it includes. While the plan’s goal is to â€œbreak groundâ€ for â€œnew conveyance in 2011, the timeline doesn’t require the Department of Fish and Game to â€œrecommend in stream flowsâ€ for the Delta until 2012!
Wouldn’t it be more logical to only begin infrastructure construction after in stream flows for fish are recommended and secured? This prioritization of the canal over the needs of fish clearly demonstrates that the plans â€œeco languageâ€ of restoring the Delta is nothing other than green washing of the most environmentally destructive project in California history.
See you on the Delta, Tom Chandler.