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Would be Death Knell of Salmon, Billions in Water Rate Hikes

SACRAMENTO, May 11 - A panel of experts today identified a range of negative impacts from the proposed Bay-Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), which envisions constructing a Peripheral Canal or Tunnel.

“Restore the Delta is opposed to the BDCP and the peripheral canal because it is too expensive, it proposes to ship millions of acre-feet of ‘surplus’ water that do not exist,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta. “It continues the draining of the Delta, imperiling the Delta environment and communities, and would take prime Delta farmland to make up for habitat lost by serving unsustainable huge corporate agribusinesses on the west side of the valley.”

“The Peripheral Canal or Tunnel will not make more water for Californians. It will simply move water around to support big agribusiness. About 2/3 of the water taken from the Delta goes to big agribusiness in the San Joaquin Valley, which represents about 1% of the population and 1 to 2% of the state’s economy. And they still want more water from the Delta,” said Barrigan-Parilla.

“The proposed project, which some estimate will cost upwards of $50 billion, is not necessary and would result in massive ratepayer hikes and put our state even further into debt.” said Kristin Lynch, Pacific Region Director with Food & Water Watch, a consumer advocacy organization. “Further, the major proponents of this infrastructure are corporate agriculture and others with financial interest in obtaining more of our state's water, giving them additional powers to control our most valuable resource.”

“Unless there is a large subsidy from urban ratepayers or taxpayers, a peripheral canal or tunnel will increase the cost of water for farmers far beyond the value of most crops. It puts the agricultural economy at great risk across the entire Valley, not just in the Delta,” said Dr. Jeffrey Michael, Director of the Eberhardt School of Business at the University of the Pacific.

Dr. Michael also called for an independent cost-benefit analysis, as required in AB 2421, pending in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. “Because of its large costs and significant impact on those who do not benefit from the project, it’s appropriate to perform a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis. But the BDCP is not using the state’s own economic analysis guidelines. It is only taking a narrow look from the water exporter perspective. ”

“The Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) is not just a corporate agribusiness backed plan to build the peripheral canal. It is also a project that will likely hasten the extinction of Sacramento River winter run Chinook salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt and other fish species,” said Bill Jennings, Executive Director of California Sportfishing Protection Alliance.

“The draft BDCP ‘Effects Analysis’ also includes plans to remove striped bass, along with largemouth and smallmouth bass and other alleged predators. This ‘predator control’ plan will remove these species allegedly to protect salmon, Delta and longfin smelt and other native fish - the same fish that the construction of the peripheral canal will kill. However, there is no scientific evidence to prove that striped bass, black bass or other ‘predatory’ species have led to the decline of endangered salmon and smelt. The striped bass, like salmon and Delta smelt, are victims of decades of water exports, declining water quality and state and federal government mismanagement," said Jennings.

“While the critiques of BDCP’s Effects Analysis, especially the Red Flag Response and Bay Institutes’ Briefing Paper, demonstrate the magnitude of BDCP’s flaws; I believe a far greater problem is the blatant refusal by the state to conduct the fundamental critical analyses crucial to informed decision making that will protect the Delta and equitably and economically allocate limited water resources,” said Jennings. “The absence of these analyses sabotages the entire planning process and I believe is the Achilles’ heal of both BDCP and the Delta Plan.”

Contact: Steve Hopcraft 916/457-5546 steve [at]; Twitter: @shopcraft;
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla 209/479-2053 barbara [at]; @RestoretheDelta

Restore the Delta is a grassroots campaign committed to making the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta fishable, swimmable, drinkable, and farmable to benefit all of California. Restore the Delta works to improve water quality so that fisheries and farming can thrive together again in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

For information about Restore the Delta, go to

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Comment Preferences

  •  It's a shame we can't force... (4+ / 0-)

    ...Agribusiness - not just in California, but all of the nation - to transition to lower intensity water use practices. The upfront costs would be daunting, though I suspect in the same range as this Canal proposal, but would be much better for all concerned.

    But that is the problem: the Agribusiness and allied concerns aren't worried about anything but their immediate spreadsheet-driven interests.

    When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

    by Egalitare on Sun May 13, 2012 at 05:25:24 AM PDT

    •  Agribusiness is a formidable political force (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BachFan, ladybug53, greengemini

      due size and wealth. It's one of the interest groups than runs roughshod over the little guy--a symptom of our ailing political system. It has no concern for the limitations of scarce resources and the impact on the general population. If a problem arises, they can throw money at it and get legislators to throw even more public dollars.

      I hope that your organization can muster the political will the block their efforts in your area.

      "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

      by Lily O Lady on Sun May 13, 2012 at 05:39:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Much of California has already transitioned (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      And there are grants for farmers to move to drip and other conservation techniques.

      Each microclimate and crop has its own issues with respect to what constitutes good water practices. What you know about growing a crop in the Fresno area may not directly apply to Salinas or Chico, just as an example.

      Most California farmers are very aware of water and the capriciousness of it. Ironically, large agribusiness has the most capital to access water conservation measures and has probably implemented more such projects than smaller farms.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Sun May 13, 2012 at 05:01:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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