Editorial by Amanda Dove, Editor in Chief
Discovery Bay’s future, and the future of many Delta area communities, is in danger, and it’s going to take a fight to save it. The topic may seem like a lot to process, but we all must take the time to understand what is happening before it is too late.
Despite decades of protests against the construction of a peripheral canal, (a system intended to divert water around the California Delta), by Northern California government agencies, groups, and individuals from around the California Delta – Governor Jerry Brown announced on July 26 that he intends to move forward in approving a proposed $23.7 billion tunnel system – a conveyance system intended to divert fresh water away from the California Delta and divert it to Southern California water interests.
The entire plan is composed under a beautifully misleading title: The Bay and Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP). A plan that would, without question, permanently alter the Delta to an extent truly hard to imagine. In reality, no one really knows how this project will affect the Delta’s geography and environment and therein lies the problem.
If the Governor’s self-proclaimed “legacy project” moves ahead, the two tunnel system would intersect the flow of fresh water into the Delta at a point near Sacramento, (SEE MAP BELOW Peripheral tunnel map) then carry the fresh water 35 miles under and around the Delta to connect with the pumping station in Tracy where the clean water is sent south. In fact, the Governor has already been buying up Delta area farm properties and land in preparation for this project.
The governor’s two arguments – in short – are that the tunnels will cut reliance on the Tracy pumps for water access to Southern California in the event of a natural disaster, and that the project would restore the Delta estuary to it’s natural state, but even Governor Brown agrees it is unknown how drastically this development would alter the current Delta waterways and the estuary’s delicate ecosystem. Why the rush? Why not take the time to gather the necessary science needed to embark upon such an endeavor, when the results may be potentially devastating to the Northern California environment and local economy?
What might the effects be of diverting fresh water away from the Delta? The salt water of the San FranciscoBay would move into the Delta region, changing the fresh water quality from Antioch to Rio Vista to salty or brackish, introducing new kinds of species to Delta waters, and pushing existing ones out. The flow of fresh water will be diverted, and so the waterways will become more stagnant, creating an environment where aquatic weeds thrive, waterways become impassable, and mosquitos find a new breeding ground. Waterfront communities like DiscoveryBay would have a dramatically different quality and movement of water, and property values could fall rapidly.
The governor states the BDCP would restore the Delta to it’s original state. After more than 100 years, the Delta is now populated and depended upon by the wildlife that has come to make the Delta it’s home as it is now, and by millions of people living in the surrounding counties. It is a wildlife and recreational treasure. The BDCP plan lacks well-respected science, and arrives at conclusions about the impact of the project that are really just hopeful thoughts. This is amongst the reasons why BDCP supporters abandoned efforts to get this project in front of California voters in the form of a ballot initiative.
The demand by Southern California water agencies and commercial interests is winning this fight. Water users in areas like San Diego and Los Angeles hope the proposed tunnel system will put and end to their water wars, having this new influx or fresh water. The official argument about the weaknesses of the current system doesn’t justify the rush to spend billions on an uncertain plan, at such a potentially high cost to communities like ours.
Access to water around the state in the event of a natural disaster is a problem that needs to be solved – by those that can evaluate the science without bias or political interest, and find a solution that both sides of the State can agree is wise and responsible.
Get Involved: Go to WWW.RESTORETHEDELTA.ORG
What can you do? Continue to voice your concerns at every level of government, and make your point at the ballot box in November. See below for contacts.
Want to know more? The Bay and Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) is available for review on their web site: baydeltaconservationplan.com
US Senator Diane Feinstein: www.feinstein.senate.gov
Congressman Jerry McNerney: http://mcnerney.house.gov
President Obama: www.whitehouse.gov/contact
Governor Jerry Brown: http://gov.ca.gov/m_contact.php
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814