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There are alternatives to the Bay Delta Plan

C ross-posted from Restore the Delta | The Restore the Delta Coalition, which Alliance for Democracy supports, has put out an alternative proposal to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to meet California’s water needs without further damaging the Bay-Delta ecosystem.

Restore the Delta maintains that the “Responsible Exports Plan
by the Environmental Water Caucus, offers a truly comprehensive plan for both the Delta and the state.

The Environmental Water Caucus (EWC) is a statewide consortium of groups working to achieve comprehensive, sustainable water management solutions for all of California.   Among other measures, the EWC plan would:

  • Focus on fixing the South Delta pumps which will still be in use with the BDCP and several other alternative plans for the Delta, using known, not experimental technology.
  • Take only a sustainable yield of water from the Delta based on documented information regarding flow standards from the 1960s to the present 2010 State Water Resources Control Board hearings.  Presently, 3 million acre feet is the maximum safe yield amount for exports from the Delta.  This is the maximum cap in the EWC Plan.
  • Allow for habitat in the Delta with sufficient flow.  And it does so without weakening Delta communities by keeping habitat on already existing public lands and on wide levees.
  • Increase flow in the San Joaquin River, reduce reverse flow in Old River, and connect Delta flows to San Francisco Bay to enable salmon to reach the sea and return to spawn.
  • Improve water quality and quantity for all Delta communities.
  • Reduce discharges of salt, selenium and boron into the San Joaquin River that impair south and central Delta agriculture.
  • Not introduce new infrastructure into the heart of the Delta outside of Clifton Court.
  • Support wide levee standards set in the Delta Protection Commission’s Economic Sustainability Report.
  • Preserve the “common pool” in the Delta to ensure that Southern California will continue to have a stake in Delta protection.
  • Call for the largest investment in regional self-sufficiency. $2.7 billion, of all Delta plans in new regional water projects to conserve, recycle and reuse water outside of the Delta.  Studies predict that up to a million acre-feet of “new water” can be created for every $1 billion invested in water efficiency programs.
  • Generates jobs.  Economists estimate that investments in water efficiency projects create 10 to 20 jobs per $1 million spent.    BDCP estimates that it will only result in 5-7 jobs per $1 million spent.

The anticipated cost for all the strategies the EWC plan proposes works out under $10 billion, with a sustainable yield of Delta exports.  And it would provide south-of-Delta with about a million acre feet of more water than what is presently being exported.

From this starting point, the State can then contribute additional funds to construct new water efficiency projects to create “new water” as it sees fit in its budget.

And because the proposed water supply strategies are local and regional, the State won’t need to spend up to $55 billion over the next half century on a piece of infrastructure that will turn North Delta agricultural land into an industrial eyesore and be useless in a series of drought years.

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