STOCKTON - A San Joaquin County supervisor said he is concerned that Southern California will ruin the Delta by taking its water south, and that a state bureaucracy has plans to take over control of the lands that comprise the Delta.
Supervisor Leroy Ornellas, of Tracy, said at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting that someday Northern California will lose control of the water supply and quality in its backyard. He fears that a planning body with similar control to the Coastal Commission will surface and exert its authority over local governments on the Delta's future.
"I think L.A. is going to get the water (through the proposed Peripheral Canal), and the commission will get the planning," Ornellas said, referring to a possible Delta version of the Coastal Commission.
"It will start out rather benign and grow into a monster," he added.
And Lodi could be affected by a new regulatory commission, he said, because he fears that a recently created Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force is pushing for the future commission to take control of what is known as "secondary zones," which includes Lodi's White Slough Wastewater Treatment Plant.
A "secondary zone" is any location that is within a flood plain, Ornellas said. That could include areas like Park West and Woodbridge, if the Federal Emergency Management Authority adds them into the flood plain zone next year.
Ornellas' remarks came after Linda Fiack, executive director of the Delta Protection Commission, addressed the Board of Supervisors about the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force, a group that is to develop a long-term plan to restore and maintain the Delta's environmental quality. Supervisor Larry Ruhstaller of Stockton represents San Joaquin County on the task force.
After Tuesday's meeting, Supervisor Ken Vogel said that all supervisors concur with Ornellas about the Delta.
"We all agree essentially, whether it be the Peripheral Canal or taking the authority away from the counties," Vogel said.
That can be county authority over highways, pipelines, agriculture, fishing and other recreation, Vogel said.
The Delta is important, he said, because it consists of one-third of San Joaquin county's land area and 30 percent of the agricultural income comes from the Delta.
Ornellas expressed his concern because, he said, anyone who wants to paint his garage or make some small improvement near the coast is subject to approval by the Coastal Commission.
The task force, chaired by former Sacramento Mayor and California Assemblyman Phil Isenberg, will develop a Delta plan to prepare for a major disaster, such as an earthquake.
A reliable water supply for California and the Delta ecosystem are the most important goals for managing the Delta, according to a statement written by the task force.
San Joaquin County Supervisor Larry Ruhstaller represents the county on the task force.
- Source: Delta Protection Commission
- The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors accepted the
donation of artistic fiber artwork for the new county agriculture
center from Stockton artist Margaret Fairbrook. Fairbrook hasn't
created the artwork yet because she has applied for a grant with
the Stockton Arts Commission. The commission requires the county's
endorsement prior to considering the grant proposal.
Supervisor Victor Mow said he doesn't consider it a risk to approve the artwork sight unseen because Fairbrook has a solid track record as an artist.
- The Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution to allow the Oak
View Union Elementary School District in Acampo to conduct a $3.7
million bond election on June 3. The school district would use the
bond funds to build a multipurpose room and convert the existing
multipurpose room for a library, computer lab and office
- The board continued its agreement with Caltrans for inmate work
crews to clean ditches, remove weeds, plant trees and remove litter
and graffiti from the roadways. Caltrans will pay the county
$150,000 annually. The agreement expires June 30, 2011.
- The board appointed four new physicians to the San Joaquin
General Hospital staff and reappointed 10 others.
- Supervisors also approved a $325,000 legal settlement for
Gloria Rallojay, who tripped and fell on a county sidewalk in the
1500 block of Portola Avenue in Stockton. Rallojay claimed in her
lawsuit that she underwent several surgeries for a complex fracture
of her left wrist due to the fall.
- Source: San Joaquin County.
In her comments to the Board of Supervisors, Fiack said that San Joaquin County officials must continue to monitor developments related to the Peripheral Canal proposal and other Delta issues, or else decisions not to the county's liking may take place.
Fiack added that San Joaquin County officials, including Ruhstaller and Public Works Director Tom Flinn, have done a good job watching out for the county's water interests.
Ornellas said he was most alarmed about one of the task force's 12 goals, which call for an independent body with authority over land-use planning and water export levels.
"A big portion of the county would be taken out of our hands," Ornellas said later Tuesday. "I envision a farmer in the Delta who is replacing a pump to having to go through a commission."
It could then take a few months to get approval for that pump if it has to go through that commission, Ornellas said, and it could require environmental studies for something relatively simple if it goes through a regulatory commission other than the county.
Land-use planning in the Delta is managed by its five counties - San Joaquin, Sacramento, Yolo, Solano and Contra Costa.
Based in Walnut Grove, Delta Vision builds on work done through the CALFED program, which will continue to focus on water supply and ecosystem restoration, according to the Delta Vision Web site.
Failure to form a sustainable management program for the Delta would prove disastrous, according to the program's Web site. Delta water sustains more than 500,000 people who live in the Delta, more than 300,000 acres of agriculture within the Delta, 750 plant and animal species that call the Delta home, as well as more than 23 million Californians, and seven million irrigated agriculture acres throughout the state.
"I think we need to sound the alarm," Ornellas said, quoting an old Johnny Cash song, "I hear the train a-comin'."