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Lucy, Charlie Brown and the Football

The latest version of Lucy's water deal is the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan which is the tunnel deal

Oct 31, 2012

Watching the progress of the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) can be confusing. Here are a few stories just from today: Coalition Gaining Momentun to Solve California's Water Woes, Delta Leaders Line Up in Opposition to Tunnels, Drilling for Delta Tunnel Studies Blocked in Court. Both those for and against the tunnel plan seem to think they're winning. Although Governor Jerry Brown is in favor of the tunnels, other Democrats are vehemently opposed as are many of the landowners who are blocking the environmental drilling needed to study the plan. They wanted to do the drilling before the start of the rainy season, so now that's been postponed.

We can't help but be reminded of Lucy in the Peanuts comic strip and her ability to talk Charlie Brown into kicking her football, only to pull it away every time at the last minute. It's like many of the water deals we've seen come down the pike over and over again. The latest version of Lucy's water deal is the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan which is the tunnel deal. Will this be another Lucy football pulled out at the last minute? We wouldn't be suprised.

The last water deal that was supposed to be the great deal for farmers was the San Joaquin River Restoration Act which was going to return the SJ River to its former wet status all the way to the Delta where the water would be returned via the pumps into the state and federal water system. But, there was the NRDC in court shutting down the pumps and double-crossing the farmers who couldn't get their water back after signing the deal. Farmers were talked into kicking the football only to have it pulled away again.

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein has perhaps been the greatest Lucy of them all while being involved in deals that were going to help the West side solve their drainage problems (still hasn't happened), and help the Madera Water Bank with $25M in federal money that never appeared. Lucy does it again.

Maybe Jerry Brown can see how well Feinstein's Lucy strategy works and has farmers believing he will solve their water problems with his Delta tunnels. They say this project will be studied for 5 years before construction will begin. Think there's any chance it just won't happen? Dianne Feinstein is fully on-board with the plan, but U.S. Representatives George Miller, John Garamendi, Jerry McNerney, Doris Matsui, Jackie Speier and Pete Stark have all asked for more details and a cost-benefit analysis on what they call an 'expensive and potentially damaging water diversion project." Who will be governor when it's finally time to build? Will these opposing Democrats stop fighting it? Will Lucy pull the football away again?

We're all for solving the state's water problems which are many, but we're leary of working with the Lucy's of the world and their football.



California Economic Summit blog: Coalition gaining momentum to solve California’s water woes




From the California Economic Summit:


“For California’s usually divisive water politics, this may end up being an October to remember. Only a few months after Gov. Brown announced plans to proceed with a $14 billion tunnel system that would divert water through the Bay Delta—a proposal that immediately reignited the long-running water wars between the state’s rural and urban areas—the last few weeks have seen some of these same groups coming together around a plan to solve the state’s water crisis.

The first signs of progress appeared last week in Martinez, where a State Senate committee unveiled a list of short-term water projects supported by a surprisingly diverse group of Delta stakeholders. Avoiding the divisive subject of the governor’s canal, a loose-knit group of farmers, environmentalists, and water providers calling themselves the Coalition to Support Near-Term Delta Projects spent the day highlighting their support for a shorter-term collection of 43 projects—ranging from levee improvements to ecosystem restoration. … “


Continue reading from the California Economic Summit blog by clicking here.



Dan Bacher: Delta leaders line up in opposition of “water tunnels” plan




From Dan Bacher at the California Progress Report:


“On October 24, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA) hosted a press conference in Sacramento urging more federal support for levees in rural parts of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and calling for a statewide cost-benefit analysis of the controversial Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP).

Joined by a bipartisan coalition of local leaders representing diverse Delta communities, Garamendi, a Member of the House Natural Resources Committee and former Deputy U.S. Interior Secretary under President Bill Clinton, said the cost-benefit analysis is necessary to ensure the plan does not cause harm to Northern California farming, fishing, and tourism. … “


Continue reading from Dan Bacher at the California Progress Report by clicking here.




Drilling for Delta tunnel studies blocked in court


Record Staff Writer
Test drilling for Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed twin tunnels must wait until next spring, despite state officials' warning in court documents that any delay could drive up the cost of the now $14 billion project, or even render it infeasible.

Judges in San Joaquin, Contra Costa and Sacramento counties denied requests by the state Department of Water Resources to expedite the work so it could be done before the rainy season.
And the state confirmed Monday that it will withdraw a similar request in Yolo County.

For several years landowners have challenged attempts by Water Resources to conduct environmental studies for the controversial project.

Those studies include drilling softball-sized holes hundreds of feet deep to learn more about the composition of the soil.

Water Resources is seeking access to those private lands under eminent domain law, and asked judges in each county to speed up the process.

The judges refused to do so.

The tests may move forward eventually, but Stockton attorney Thomas Keeling - who represents 33 landowners in the four counties - said the decisions reinforce the determination of Delta landowners and may indicate that the tunnels are far from a done deal.

"If DWR's insistence as to how important it is that they complete these drilling activities this year is to be believed, then these modest triumphs are of substantive value in resisting the proposed project itself," Keeling said.

"It's a lot more than a symbolic victory," he added.

In July, Water Resources asked for prompt access to conduct its tests, arguing that time was of the essence and that a secure water supply for millions of Californians was at stake.

With $140 million already spent by south Valley and Los Angeles-area water districts, further delay in drilling "may result in similar increased costs that could jeopardize the project altogether by rendering it financially infeasible," the department warned in court papers.

The judges, however, found that the state had failed to name in its legal documents all parties that might have a claim or interest in those properties.

Water Resources said Monday that it has completed some drilling on other lands, and that it will move forward with the tunnel study based on the information it already has.

"But assumptions based on that data will have to be tested by actual drilling," spokesman Ted Thomas said in an email.

It's unclear, he said, if this will cause further delay.

Landowners have also challenged other proposed environmental surveys, aside from the drilling. That issue is pending before an appeals court.

The tunnels would divert Sacramento River water beneath the Delta straight to the Tracy-area pumps that supply farms and cities as far south as San Diego.

Opponents fear the estuary will be ruined from a lack of fresh water, and argue that its levees can be strengthened to safely convey water at far less cost.

Contact reporter Alex Breitler at (209) 546-8295 or abreitler@recordnet.com. Visit his blog at recordnet.com/breitlerblog.

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