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Galt City Council supports alternative to Bay Delta Conservation Plan

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Posted: Friday, February 8, 2013 12:00 am

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 jenniferb@lodinews.com.

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  • Robert Pyke posted at 2:53 pm on Fri, Feb 8, 2013.

    Robert Pyke Posts: 1

    Mike Wade is to be commended for his persistence in responding to every criticism or alternative to the BDCP, but the suspicion that he never actually reads these criticisms is confirmed by the fact that in this instance he is responding to the NRDC alternative approach to the BDCP and not to what I proposed to the Galt City Council and what they unanimously agreed to. What I proposed to the Council was that any broad solution to the current crisis in the Delta has to comply with two principles: (1) Allow natural flows to pass through the Delta before any surplus is extracted for export; and (2) Extract more water during high flows and less or no water during low flows. I actually agree with Mike Wade’s conclusion that the NRDC potpourri approach does not solve the problem, in my case because it does not comply with these two basic principles, but neither does the BDCP apparent preferred project. Years of study provides no guarantee that the consultants who have been feeding at the trough have found the optimum solution. It only confirms the obvious which is that it is more in the interest of a bureaucracy or a consulting team to study a problem to death rather than to solve it.

  • Mike Wade posted at 10:48 am on Fri, Feb 8, 2013.

    farmwater Posts: 5

    Years of study have gone into the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to achieve the goals of achieving a reliable water supply and a restored Delta ecosystem, as mandated by the California Legislature. Scientists and researchers have studied multiple options and the current proposal includes the twin tunnels with a capacity of 9,000 cfs.

    Contrary to those who believe the tunnels will drain the Sacramento River or take away flows needed for the Delta, the water flowing through the tunnels will increase and decrease according to available water supply.

    The alternative plan being pushed by NRDC features a single 3,000 cfs tunnel is insufficient to meet the needs of all water users, especially farmers in the San Joaquin Valley. BDCP researchers studied a similar undersized proposal more than a year ago and concluded that it did not meet the legislative directive that governs the BDCP. Results of that research can be found here- http://su.pr/1L2lpr

    Mike Wade
    California Farm Water Coalition

  • Doug Chaney posted at 6:31 am on Fri, Feb 8, 2013.

    advocate Posts: 499

    The only problem with the Delta issue is that now that the powerful, super majority, power hungry dems have control of the legislature, who will be powerful enough to stop the absurd peripheral canal project. Since water has become such a valuable commodity, being bought and sold for tremendous profits, it appears to me that the Delta issue will be decided on a financial basis, who will stand to profit the most with the canal bypass in place and not a decision based on whether the Delta will survive. The farmers and public will literally be giving this much needed resource away to the southern part of the state to those who will make the huge profits controlling, buying and selling this additional water supply while those who depend on it here in the central valley and Delta will see even less of the paltry amounts they are allotted now. Any Delta water should be taken after the supply passes through the richly laden soils and agricultural venues upstream. Great response, city of Galt.



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