The editorial below from the Sacramento Bee titled 'Shared Sacrifice In The Delta Takes A Holiday' attempts to put the blame for the Sacramento sewage decision by the Central Valley Regional Water Control District on the PR campaign by Families Protecting the Valley. We take full credit for our part in the public relations campaign to spread the word about the damage being done by the Sacramento Sanitation District in dumping tons of ammonia per day in the Sacramento River which makes its way to the Delta and harms plant life fed on by small fish like the Delta Smelt. There is much scientific evidence that it's the reason the fish are dying. The PR campaign was our last-ditch effort to bring attention to an issue no one else seemed to notice, that dumping treated sewage with tons of ammonia into the Delta was as damaging as any of the other stressors, if not more so. So, we see that the Bee has come to the conclusion that it's our PR campaign that's done the real damage, not the ammonia. The PR campaign was not an empty message; it was a campaign of truth. We are very pleased that the Water Quality Control Board came to the same conclusion.
When it comes to shared sacrifice, we can only assume that the Bee was unaware of the devastation caused by the failure to deliver water to the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California since 1992. If the Bee was aware, was this not considered to be part of the shared sacrifice? Further, the salmon fisheries have been curtailed in their harvest for years as well. Is this not shared sacrifice? These two sacrifices have cost billions of dollars in each case harming countless fishermen and farmers. Nevertheless, the Delta ecosystem has not improved. We took a look around to see what else might be causiing an impact and found sewage staring us square in the face.
For the last 10-years Sacramento Regional has operated without an d discharge permit. During that time deferred maintenance and collections for needed improvements maintained the status quo as the delta continued to collapse. We ask: where was Sacramento's shared sacrifice?
Since 1992, when the federal contractors water deliveries were cut in half, Sacramento and Bay Area cities have grown and taken water upstream from the Delta increasingly every year. The growth has reduced the amount of water flowing into and through the Delta and at the same time increased the amount of pollution discharged into it. It was inevitable that the sewage would have to be cleaned up because the increased concentrations are toxic to the environment and people's health downstream as 25,000,000 people drink this water.
Editorial: Shared Sacrifice In The Delta Takes A Holiday
Dec 11, 2010
For the last two years, water exporters in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley have mounted a sophisticated public relations campaign to deflect attention from their own actions in harming the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Creating and encouraging cuddly sounding front groups such as "Families Protecting the Valley" and "Coalition for a Sustainable Delta," these water exporters have attempted to portray ammonia from Sacramento's regional wastewater treatment plant as a leading cause of the Delta's decline. Earlier this year, they touted the questionable research of a Maryland scientist (hired by the water contractors) who concluded that "the primary changes in the ecology" of the Delta were attributable to nutrients, mainly ammonia from Sacramento's plant.
On Thursday, that investment in hired-gun research and public relations paid off for the exporters. The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board slapped a new permit on the Sacramento plant that could force the region, during tough economic times, to invest $1.3 billion to $2 billion in removing ammonia and other pollutants over the next 10 years.
It's only fair that Sacramento pay its fair share to help the Delta. Yet it is far from certain that full ammonia removal would result in measurable benefits for imperiled smelt and salmon. Those fish face a range of threats – from unscreened water diversions to farm runoff to the massive state and federal pumps that move water to the south.
If Sacramento's new permit were part of broader set of sacrifices and regulatory actions – such as a crackdown on selenium runoff or reduced water exports in the future – it would be easier to swallow. Instead of agreeing to sacrifices, water interests such the Westlands Water District are attempting to secure guarantees that they will get more water from the Delta, not less.
Earlier this week, The Bee editorial board urged regulators to take an incremental approach, requiring a 50 percent reduction in ammonia from the Sacramento plant, with additional reductions if subsequent science showed they were necessary. Yet it was clear Thursday that, despite listening to 14 hours of testimony, the water board wasn't budging from its staff recommendation. The vote was unanimous, including votes from two board members that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had appointed just two days prior to the meeting.
Until now, The Bee has been open to far-reaching changes in management of the Delta, including a new canal or tunnel to convey water and limit damage caused by the existing Delta pumps. Yet the power play unleashed by water exporters against Sacramento, coupled with their own refusal to make sacrifices, has greatly damaged trust in the ongoing process.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson called it "a war between North and South." It is looking more and more like that is the case.
The Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District should appeal Thursday's decision to the State Water Resources Control Board, but not hold its breath hoping for relief.
The power and votes are in Southern California. The cards are stacked against the North.