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Ken Vogel Massive tunnel project raises key questions for agriculture, Lodi and the Delta

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Ken Vogel

Posted: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 8:34 am, Tue Nov 13, 2012.

When the Legislature passed the Delta Reform Act in 2009, we were promised that any projects devised by those in charge of the state's administrative processes would be based on the best available science. We were promised that the process would be inclusive of Delta interests. We were promised that Delta agriculture would be protected and enhanced. We were promised that vested water rights and priorities would be honored and enforced.

We are about to see whether those promises are fulfilled.

Within the next few months, the final Delta plan implementing many provisions of the Delta Reform Act will be adopted by the Delta Stewardship Council. Within the next few months, state and federal administrative agencies, with the participation of the State and Federal Contractors Water Agency, will produce a Bay Delta Conservation Plan that supposedly will provide answers for the Delta.

And yet, many questions remain unanswered.

Why has there been no full cost-benefit analysis of the BDCP to find out how much this is really going to cost? Why does the Delta Plan appear to usurp local governmental land use authority? How can any solution to Delta water problems be proposed before the state adopts water flow and water quality standards necessary for Delta agriculture, Delta aquatic life and Delta-derived drinking water? How can massive tunnels under the Delta, depriving needed water from in-Delta users, be justified? How can Delta levee maintenance — maintenance that provides flood control and protection of public infrastructure — be deemed not feasible?

Worst of all, how can a process be trusted when it is based on a concept that we should expend vast amounts of public and ratepayer money for irreversible changes to the Delta before we know whether those changes will further the co-equal goals of the Delta Reform Act and, at the same time, attain the state's policy of reducing reliance on the Delta for future water supplies?

What is at stake for Lodi, San Joaquin County and the greater Delta is the continued vitality of our economy, our water rights, our safety and our way of life. We understand that we are part of a water system that is based on greater demand than there is supply. But that shouldn't mean that promises made should be broken, or that a water rights priority system that has been relied on by our farmers, industry and homeowners should now be discarded. We know that there can be positive solutions to the problems we have pointed out, particularly about the shortcomings of the BDCP process and the BDCP proposals we have seen (or not seen) thus far. The Delta Protection Commission, made up in large part of local Delta representatives, has adopted an Economic Sustainability Plan for the Delta. That plan points the way for cost-effective solutions to the Delta's economic and water problems.

The Delta Conservancy, which I chair, has produced a strategic plan for implementation of projects and processes which will go a long way to preserving and enhancing the Delta's economy and environment.

But there are even more specific positive answers to our concerns. Recently, State Sen. Lois Wolk held a hearing to receive reports on our grassroots efforts to develop near-term projects that would protect and enhance our Delta.

Three coalitions of stakeholders, including the five Delta Counties, have been working for months, and in San Joaquin County's case, years to develop lists of projects that are cost effective and protective of the Delta, projects that can be done now and lessen the need for massive, costly, irreversible projects that may do nothing to protect the Delta. These coalitions include most of the contending parties in our water wars and we have begun to build a basis of trust and understanding.

These projects can be the model of success for the Delta. We will be working with our urban, agriculture and environmental colleagues, our state and federal legislators and administrative agencies and our local communities to remove barriers to the development of these projects and to fund their successful implementation.

This is the best chance we may have to date to seek solutions to the Delta's problems.

Finally, the projects being considered by the BDCP that will dramatically affect the livelihood of our Delta region should be voted on by the citizens of California as well as our state Legislature. The legislation of 2009 does not require either vote.

Ken Vogel represents the Lodi area on the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • Bobcatbob Ingram posted at 10:45 am on Fri, Nov 16, 2012.

    99er Posts: 119

    You certainly name many folks that may or may not have a hand in this ' ecological' disaster which IF were happening in the Amazon Basin would have rich treehugger types to be screaming , .."we got to end the destruction" but here in California most of us, even If we love the Delta, have not a clue as to the ends and outs of 'selling' water.

    Yesterday I saw a report that listed a federal mandate concerning water flow that is being broken by local authorities.
    " Whaaaa.." You might say,:how can local authority trump the Feds.?
    Simple, get a judge to overturn it or set it aside or do what ever it is they call it nowadays..
    Heres the rub, I can be bribed, You can be bribed and they can be bribed, and to top it off bribery is legal. ...

  • roy bitz posted at 9:11 pm on Tue, Nov 13, 2012.

    roy bitz Posts: 503

    *Can anyone provide details of the "workable plan for restoring the Delta?
    *What is the goal of this restoration plan----to restore the Delta to what it was a hundred years ago-- two hundred years ago-- to when it was all wetlands or to simply divert even more Northern california water South?
    *Why " must it be remembered that these projects do not fulfill the legislators directives"
    *What the heck are our legislators directives?

  • Mike Wade posted at 11:51 am on Tue, Nov 13, 2012.

    farmwater Posts: 5

    Supervisor Vogel has been involved in the process of finding answers to the problems confronting the Delta and raises several questions. Some of these questions have already been addressed and others are expected to be answered prior to the adoption of a plan that fulfills the goals of the 2009 legislation---a reliable water supply and a restored Delta ecosystem.

    One of the concerns raised by Supervisor Vogel and others is whether any new Delta plan will harm current water users in the Delta. This concern has been repeatedly answered in that the California Water Code prohibits any new project from negatively impacting existing water rights. If a right to Delta water current exists, it will continue to exist under a new Delta water plan.

    The process of developing short-term projects referred to by Supervisor Vogel is an example of varied interests working together. It must be remembered that these projects do not fulfill the Legislature's directive. However, the discussions that lead to these projects have been beneficial and expanding this type of cooperation will serve the water needs of all California and at the same time provide a workable plan for restoring the Delta ecosystem.

    Mike Wade
    California Farm Water Coalition


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