Farm Press Blog

Selfish few continue trying to derail Bay Delta plan

  • Bay Delta Conservation Plan Draft may need more changes.

  • It must not be derailed if California is to develop more needed water.

  • California is a major earthquake away from losing major water supply.


For decades, the Bay Delta has been identified as the most likely alternative to develop more water for all Californians.

The recent release of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan Draft EIR/EIS is another step toward achieving a more reliable water supply for millions of Californians and farmers who grow our food, according to Mike Wade, executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition.

“California's water supply system has become unreliable and needs upgrading for the current and future demands of its residents. Farmers need reliable water supplies to grow food on millions of acres of productive farmland,” Wade says.

The Bay Delta Conservation Plan aims to stabilize water deliveries from the Delta and contribute to the recovery of 56 species of plants, fish and wildlife over the 50-year life of the plan.

A lot of non-political work went into developing the 9,000-page conservation plan and its corresponding 25,000-page EIR/EIS. The public has reviewed drafts of these documents and significant changes were made from those comments. Still, there are concerns and unanswered questions.

However, this seems to be the best plan to date to generate more critically needed water as soon as practical.

It needs tweaking, but it does not need to be trashed as a basketful of splinter groups claim. They say it is too expensive and unnecessary. The groups include the likes of Today Food and Water Watch, Restore the Delta, 350 Silicon Valley, the Dean Democratic Club of Silicon Valley, the Environmental Water Caucus, First Generation Farmers and the Raging Grannies. (I love the last one.)

The Raging Grannies and friends target most of their criticism on the twin tunnels proposed to move water under the Delta. They say developing more water would cost too much and water rates would increase. Critics claim water rates would go up $7 to $10 per month, probably half what the Raging Grannies spend each month at Starbucks.

Every time the state puts out a report on the plan, this group puts out venomous news releases; espousing tired old arguments like the plan will only benefit “large, powerful corporate interests that represent oil and corporate agribusiness.”

The Bay Delta Conservation Plan has been developed through seven years of analysis and hundreds of public meetings.

It’s still not perfect, but it cannot be trashed or defeated at the polls, which is where it is headed.

The debate of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan is no political game. California must develop additional water for a growing population and to preserve a major source of food for this country and the world.

Seemingly lost in the debate is the fact that California is an earthquake away from losing a major water source. The Delta is deteriorating. The levees would crumble in a big earthquake. If nothing else, the tunnels would protect California’s most valuable water supply.

The reasons to continue to move forward on this plan are far too compelling to be derailed by a selfish few.


Discuss this Blog Entry 10

Rogene Reynolds (not verified)
on Dec 31, 2013

Fact: Scientists and structural engineers disagree on the earthquake danger - others just impose the fear factor. Fact: Please count me among the "selfish". As a South Delta landowner I would prefer that BDCP not target my home as "habitat". My farming family and friends feel the same. Condemning our land (over 100,000 acres of highly productive land) and asking the public to pony up $ 7 Billion for terrestrial habitat development on class one soils above sea level will not develop one gallon of water nor save one fish. Read the BDCP documents. They admit the shortcomings themselves. I'm not "raging" but I'm sick to death of the lies promulgated about this Delta. I hope we do have the "big one" - I'll be happy to stand on a levee!
Thanks for the opportunity to comment. Happy New Year, too! Rogene Reynolds, South Delta

Anonymous (not verified)
on Dec 31, 2013

More water storage has been tabled for years and now is past due. These pipelines to nowhere will have no water in them without more storage capacity asap. How many billions have been wasted doing studies?

Lynn Miller (not verified)
on Dec 31, 2013

Unfortunately the Twin Tunnels project does NOT create any NEW water. It confiscates the water near Clarksberg, dumps it in the tunnels and bypasses any contact with the Bay Delta Estuary. When the water reaches the Clifton Court Forebay near Tracy it is shipped south in the Delta Mendota Canal and California Aqueduct. That seems quite selfish to me.
I live on Roberts Island and find it interesting that BDCP feels that levee failures and earthquakes are a 'major' threat to Southern California water delivery but apparently BDCP is not that concerned about Northern California water delivery. An earthquake or levee failures in the north could mean more than just an interruption of irrigation water to me; it could mean an end to my home, my livelihood and God forbid, human life. That seems kind of selfish don't you think?
There are several alternatives to the tunnels and some of these alternatives could be completed in four years or less. My question is, do farmers have 10 years to wait for tunnel construction? That’s 10 years if everything goes as scheduled. And when was the last time a giant Public Works project was completed on schedule?
Seven years ago the BDCP’s plan was a $3 billion project. In 2013 it was $12-$24 billion. Recently released costs are now between $51-$67 billion. When does the cost outweigh the benefits? Will the farmer be able to afford the cost per acre foot if this project is completed?

Anonymous (not verified)
on Dec 31, 2013

Doing nothing but taking grower / land owner rights away and logic/ economics is being thrown out. This is socialism.... Hidden in a PR release.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jan 1, 2014

This journalist (?) is ignoring the facts. Fact: There have been many lies told by the BDCP to sell the insane twin tunnels scheme. Fact: The cost given, about $23 billion, has recently been brought up to around $67 billion. Fact: BDCP has not really seriously considered other more sensible, less expensive costs that would allow a compromise with everyone involved. Fact: Mike Wade is paid over $100,000 a year to write positive articles and blurbs for the BDCP twin tunnels advocates, who include billionaire gentleman farmers like Stewart and Linda Resnick who live in the largest Beverly Hills mansion, and own Roll International, which includes Paramount Farms, Figi Water, and a controlling interest in the Kern Water Bank, which used to belong to the citizens of California. Hope this gives some balance!

Jan McCleery (not verified)
on Jan 1, 2014

My community got on the bus to drive 2 hours to Sacramento to protest the tunnels. My community is not a “splinter group”. We are a community of 14,000 citizens who’s home values, economy and way of life depends on a clean healthy Delta. The BDCP will ruin the Delta by removing fresh water before it can flow through it. The tunnels are sized large enough to remove all of the water from the Sacramento River and will leave us in the South Delta with only the low-flowing, salty, polluted San Joaquin River water - ironically polluted from the farm runoff from Central Valley farms. Runoff that contains high levels of selenium, a chemical that is known to cause bird and trout deformity. We don’t want to boat and swim in that!

We want to keep our water fresh. Our economy is based on boating and recreation. Our back yards are the Delta. Is it selfish to want to continue to live on a healthy river or should we tell the corporate agribusinesses on the westside who have continued to expand, expand, expand their use of water to just go ahead and take it all? Is that selfish to want to keep our home values? My husband and I worked hard for 35 years in Silicon Valley to be able to save enough money to retire in the Delta area that we so love. Our story is similar to others who live here. Is wanting to keep what we have worked so hard for being selfish?

And we are not alone. We are only one of many communities in the Delta. Farmers, communities who’s drinking water comes from the Delta, fishermen who’s livelihood is based on the Delta. Why should we all give up everything we have so that a handful of rich corporate agribusinesses can continue to expand acreage, continue to convert line crops to almonds to ship to Asia, continue to grow water-intensive cotton, expand fracking operations and profit from water?

The BDCP is flawed, the “science” will not save fish by removing more fresh water, in dry years the tunnels will be dry, it wet years there is no South-of-Delta storage to store any excess water. Northern California representatives like Sen. Lois Wolk and Rep. Garamendi have proposed viable alternatives that protect the Delta while better solving the state and the farming needs. To-date their voices and all Delta stakeholder voices have been excluded from the discussion. It is time to kill the BDCP and begin to work on real, viable alternatives.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jan 2, 2014

There are 8 times as many water rights on paper as can ever be met by the water in the state. The BDCP does not "develop" any water. It just transfer it and is being pushed by giant agribusiness.
Want to know how we got into such a mess? Read the report "Water Heist" authored, if memory serves, by Public Citizen.
Basically the present system is unsustainable and new approaches have to be adopted.

Steven Butler (not verified)
on Jan 6, 2014

We have had many earthquakes in the bay area, and never a quake related levee failure. If we build the pipes won't we still have to fix the levees? We will. The same diversion points are not going to be abandoned, they will continue to be used, and will cause the same problems. We should be talking about the Auburn Dam not a pipeline.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jan 10, 2014

What an inflammatory headline! The many people that oppose the BDCP for a myriad of reasons are not "A Few" and wanting to maintain their way of living and livlihoods that have existed for generations is not "Selfish". Your article on the anti-GMO article written by attorney Ellen Brown states that "There is no objectivity or balance in the article." I would put forth that you have done exactly the same thing in this article by not providing either objectivity or balance when addressing a major water issue. Please try to take a more balanced objective approach in future articles.

on Jan 24, 2014

Question: Is California's growth sustainable?
Perhaps it's time the price of water went up. We certainly don't pay what it's worth now.

What about desalinization?
Are area residents using conservation practices?

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