It may not be news as big as the naming of a new pope, but the release of a third of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) generated plenty of interest and a wide disparity of reactions to the first part of the 50-year plan to “fix” the turnbuckle of California’s water supply system.

California Gov. Jerry Brown’s office just released the first four of 12 chapters of the BDCP. The plan includes the proposal for new water intakes and tunnels and habitat restoration to reverse the decline of native fish populations in the Delta and provide reliable water deliveries for two-thirds of California’s population and much of the state’s agricultural economy. The plan has been developed over the last seven years, with technical advice and input from federal agencies.

State and federal projects pull water through the Delta. The water from these two projects is delivered to 3 million acres of farmland and 25 million Californians.

The plan drew mostly positive responses.


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"Posting of the first four chapters of the Bay Delta Conservation ... marks another important milestone in California's effort to solve the water crisis in a way that will benefit everyone who lives here," said Dan Nelson, executive director of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority. The revised BDCP addresses concerns raised over the initial administrative draft and builds upon the shared vision of a long-term solution announced by Gov. Brown and Interior Secretary Salazar last summer.”

San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority agency members deliver water to 1.2 million acres of farmland and an urban population of 2 million people in small rural communities and larger metropolitan centers like the Silicon Valley. The authority also delivers water to the second largest contiguous wetlands in the nation, which is a vital link in the Pacific Flyway migration path. The member water districts are located along the West Side of the San Joaquin Valley from Tracy to Kettleman City and in Santa Clara and San Benito counties.

"California's water delivery system is broken, and the Bay Delta Conservation Plan is the best option our state has in securing a reliable water future," said Mike Wade, executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition. The coalition represents more than 5 million irrigated acres and is the state's largest organization to focus only on farm water issues.