A letter signed by Galt Mayor Marylou Powers will be forwarded to the state, after the former executive director of the Chamber of Commerce asked the city council to support an alternative Delta water plan. It received unanimous council support at Tuesday's meeting.
Water expert and engineer Robert Pyke, asked to attend Tuesday's meeting by former chamber director Frank Gayaldo, wants natural water flows to be allowed to pass through the Delta before any surplus is extracted for export to Southern California.
Additionally, he'd like more water extracted during high flows and less or no water during low flows.
The plan would be an alternative to the state's Bay Delta Conservation Plan, which exports water regardless of whether it is a dry or wet season. Pyke said that plan is also a lot more intrusive, as it consists of three intakes on the Sacramento River in the North Delta, a large forebay somewhere in the North Delta and twin underground tunnels to the South Delta.
"Solely focusing on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, as the BDCP does, will not lead to a sustainable solution to California's water supply problems," Pyke, a Walnut Creek resident, wrote last month in a letter to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. "Other alternatives such as my own Western Delta Intakes Concept must be taken seriously. The current range of alternatives under study by the BDCP are simply variations of the same theme and do not address some of the core problems we face."
He believes converting Sherman Island near Highway 160 into a forebay and installing pumps at its south end would allow the creation of storage tunnels, help restore fish populations to high numbers and create thousands of acres of tidal marsh and riparian habitat.
"The goal is to have a system to take out eight to 10 million acre feet of water a year ... to replenish groundwater to save for drought periods," Pyke said Tuesday. "It would benefit everyone. No one takes a hit."
Pyke has traveled throughout the region with his idea, garnering the support of a number of elected officials, including the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors. Others, including Stockton's Delta Coalition and the Stockton City Council, are willing to study that alternative among others.
Gayaldo is concerned the BDCP plan would not only cost millions more, but affect some 25,000 jobs and billions of dollars in economic output by disrupting Delta agriculture.
"The BDCP proposes to take up to 100,000 acres of land out of agricultural production for the creation of ill-defined habitat," he said. "The Chamber's principal objection to the project being discussed under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan is that in addition to damaging the fragile Delta ecosystem, it seriously impacts the viability of both recreational and commercial fishing."
Taking 100,000 acres of agricultural land out of production alone would create a $1 billion a year annual hit on the local economy and increased salt intrusion created by diminished fresh water flowing, according to Gayaldo.
"As loosely as big government throws around money, maybe a billion dollars is not a lot these days — but why should we take the hit for urban water districts in Southern California, especially when there is a viable alternative that is being ignored?" he asked.
Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at email@example.com.