Stop Wealthy Water Brokers from Draining the San Francisco Bay-Delta

California Governor Jerry Brown is expected to announce this month his plans to build a massive and hugely costly facility to divert water from California's San Francisco Bay Delta to municipalities and agricultural users. In the words of Congressman John Garamendi (CA), "The BDCP (Bay Delta Conservation Plan) process is heading toward the creation of a massive water diversion facility that could destroy the entire Delta".

This diversion project could cost as much as $20 billion and put species like Central Valley salmon at real risk of extinction. State and federal wildlife agencies opposed a larger plan that had a pumping capacity of 15,000 cfs.  This plan, with a beginning 9,000 cfs pumping capacity, and potential expansion to 15,000 cfs has not been evaluated--a major reason for not moving forward too quickly.

Governor Brown and U.S. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar are expected to announce their plans on or about July 25th. Please take action for San Francisco Bay Delta species by demanding a thorough evaluation before proceeding with this risky plan.

Dear Governor Jerry Brown,
For several years now the state of California, federal agencies and citizens of California have been working to create a balanced plan to restore the San Francisco Bay-Delta and provide a more stable environment for its millions of fish and wildlife. This is a most critically important watershed, not only because it teams with fish and wildlife, but because it provides all or some of the water for 25 million Californians. At issue over the past decade has been the negative impacts of increased water diversions, toxic inflows from tributaries and run-off, as well as invasive species. As a result many fish species have become endangered, and listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Of great importance has been the negative impacts on the central valley salmon populations, all of which moved toward extinction.

Over the past 5 years water contractors have led a process to try to capture and divert increased amounts of the estuary’s water for use by cities and agriculture. Scientific analysis has shown this is inappropriate, and the estuary needs more water to support its fish and wildlife, as well as the farming and cities of the Delta itself. State and federal wildlife agencies have been clear in pointing out deficiencies in the current plan. The state legislature has mandated that the process find a balanced solution between water reliability and environmental recovery, while recognizing that the Delta and its communities must be allowed to thrive. It is clear that a balanced solution means reduced reliance on the S.F. Bay-Delta for water.

A major part of the current plan includes the installation of a massive water diversion facility on the Sacramento River, costing $14-20 billion. The Governor recently announced that he will propose building this structure, with a 9,000 cubic foot pumping capacity, but a 15,000 cubic foot diversion capacity. I call on all of you to rethink this decision and look more closely at other alternatives. Modifying the current through-Delta process to be more protective of fish and wildlife has never been analyzed. There are good alternatives available that could protect fish and wildlife, protect against sea-level rise and seismic risk, and maintain water quality for the Delta communities. They need to be thoroughly analyzed!

I recognize these decisions are difficult, and much depends on "getting it right." The current plan simply has too much cost and risk - to fish and to the Delta communities. A solution is very possible with through-Delta conveyance if done correctly, and its costs would be much lower. Developing a plan that reduces reliance on the S.F. Bay-Delta for water, develops alternative water supply strategies, and uses the Delta for water conveyance is the right direction today. I ask you to stop the decision process now, and wait until a thorough evaluation is completed.

Thank you for your consideration.

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