Second Thoughts: A voice for California’s flyover country
by Jon Mendelson / Tracy Press
Jul 15, 2011 | 5065 views | 35 35 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Finally, a study is standing up for the San Joaquin Delta.

So far, folks in the Delta — including many farmers and water users in San Joaquin County — have been the flyover country in the debate about how to ensure stable delivery of quality water to places where the wet stuff isn’t.

The Public Policy Institute of California, UC Davis and other outfits have largely spat out plans and analysis boosting the death of the Delta via peripheral canal or tunnel. But the Delta Protection Commission is bringing a measure of Delta-centric sanity with its newly minted draft report.

Overlooked by conventional wisdom, the commission says, is the $200 million-a-year hit the Delta farm industry alone could suffer if the canal were built. That figure is worst-case and would more likely be in the $50 million range, the report’s writers have conceded, but the potential for damage exceeds the $85 million caused to south-Central Valley farmers by a perfect storm of drought, environmental restrictions and poor planting practices.

(And many of those West Side Central Valley farmers were using subsidized water to till land that was never good for sustainable farming, anyway, but that’s a story for another column.)

The Delta Protection Commission also says the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan — the plan that somehow thinks the Delta would be protected by shipping high-quality water around it — greatly overestimates the worth of a canal to its beneficiaries and continually downplays the value of Delta communities. The commission also declared that the other reports underestimate the damage to farmers, cities, recreation and wildlife caused by increased salinity in the Delta, an inevitable fact of building a peripheral canal or tunnel.

In short, the commission

recommends that “the Stewardship Council (responsible for ensuring California’s water supply and protecting and restoring the Delta) … seek out more impartial and accurate sources when it comes to economic analysis.”

Thanks, guys, for stepping up for a region that’s worth $2.8 billion a year in agriculture.

The defense is especially timely. Because right now, our state’s most important estuary needs all the protection it can get.

Just this month, activist group Restore the Delta caught canal supporters hammering out a backroom deal with members of the governor’s and president’s administrations to get their pipe dream on the fast track.

“… Those who want to take additional water away from Northern California and the Delta are crafting a finance plan without California taxpayer and/or ratepayer input,” said Restore the Delta’s Barbara Barrigan-Parilla, as quoted by journalist Dan Bacher.

According to Barrigan-Parilla, with whom I’ve spoken before regarding California’s water wars, these meetings haven’t been publicly noticed and haven’t been open to scrutiny.

If you needed more proof that a canal is a pre-desired outcome — no mind to the cost, common sense or ill effects — this is it.

At this point, Delta residents and workers aren’t even at the kids’ table. They’re locked outside, with precious little input about their fate.

That must change, because it’s those folks who will bear the heaviest burden of this 21st century water grab.

But why should Tracy care? That’s the crucial question around here.

Why should Tracy go to bat for the Delta? Why not get behind a pumping and peripheral canal plan? Especially when the city pulls a portion

of its water supply from the Delta-Mendota Canal, a source that would theoretically improve in quality and reliability if a canal were built, and especially when farmers just south and west of the city rely on that pumped water to keep their outfits afloat?

Aside from it being the right thing, you mean? OK, then.

Location.

I’ve called Tracy the Crossroads of California because of its railroads and interstates. But it’s also true when it comes to water. Tracy uses both pre-pumped water (from the Stanislaus River) and post-pumped water (from the Delta-Mendota), and surrounding farms use a similar hodgepodge of water sources.

That split interest — putting us on neither one side nor the other — gives Tracy’s voice weight and the chance to be a clear-eyed arbiter.

Tracy’s unique place puts its leaders and residents in a position to be a voice of reason.

And reason suggests, at the very least, that those who call the Delta home should have a voice in a decision that could forever alter their way of life.

• Share your thoughts with Jon Mendelson at jmendelson@tracypress.com.
Comments
(35)
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AugustMarch
|
July 29, 2011
Since you like chuckles.

Do they call it "flyover" country because the congressmans been doing that for many years?
AugustMarch
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July 27, 2011
Chuckles:

Funny. Denial is not a river in Egypt.
TomBenigno
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July 27, 2011
Confused:

What canal are you referring to that was closed? That's new to me. You must be realating this story to the big dig in New York.
AugustMarch
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July 27, 2011
Confuser:

They said the same thing about the existing canal until it was shutdown. It was supposed to bring those very same jobs. Now those jobs aren't here and we are being told the illumanadi moonbeam (who was and is again) wants to build what amounts to a Parallel Canal and do it behind close doors to get the jobs we already should have had during the last moonbeam tour of duty. Confuser: I don't get it.
TomBenigno
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July 27, 2011
Missinformed;

Yor reference to "Moonbeam" suggests that you feel the peripheral canal has something to do with Governor Brown. It doesn't it was a project brought to the table years ago by people with vision to keep California "GREEN" as in producing food for the 42 million people now living in California.

It's impact will stop flooding in the Delta, I think you should study the plan a little more. It will bring 10,000 jobs to Californian's, ASAP.
ILovePeppermint
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July 26, 2011
Dear Moonbeam,

Southern California will not pay for our Delta when it floods.

At the rate California is going. Soon the Governor's declaration of emergy flooding will be simply a verbal pronouncement, lacking financial backing. It will simply screw the Delta and those living near the Delta.

Question: If they cannot afford NASA how will they afford FEMA?

Answer: Raise the debt ceiling.

(It gets to the point the voters ask how high to raise? And you respond to the moon?)

(Is that where we got the phrase: "moonbeam"?)

TomBenigno
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July 26, 2011
Uninformed commenter:

We had a man on the moon, we went sent a robot to Mars to find water. Now NASA wants to waste more of our money on another space scheme by giving the program to the Russians. While we hitch a ride.

Tell me how the do you wipe out the Delta? It finds it's own level then floods. Try again later.
AugustMarch
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July 26, 2011
The redundant Peripheral idea probably should never gone from concept to a back room deal in a state that already has enough canals and is sitting on the precipice of an ecological wildlife endangered species disaster. The peripheral canal would not only salineate the wetlands wiping out species it would wipe out what farmers are left in the area and result in meeting the same fate as the Delta Canal. Meaning being reduced to a trickle.

The solution is not to build parallel canals in the loony efforts to raise the debt ceiling.

The idea is too far out there and should never have gone from concept to a back room deal.

Why can we can no longer afford to put a man on the moon but we can afford a moonbeam and a pipedream?
ILovePeppermint
|
July 23, 2011
TomB.

I'm not disgruntled, but it is true you don't need to respond.
TomBenigno
|
July 23, 2011
Disgruntled reader:

Considering the source, I need not respond to your post.
ILovePeppermint
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July 23, 2011
TomB.

When you wrote this is more like "Lost in space".

Was that a vague reference to "Moonbeam"?

AugustMarch
|
July 21, 2011
Watcher:

The facts are we built enough canals and they have proven harmful to the environment on too many occasions. I don't think we can trust someone whose only response is unintelligible comment - DANGER WILL ROBINSON while the governor gets caught in a backroom deal and expects someone to take him serious. This is like getting caught with your pants down. We need to know if we even need a Peripheral canal when we have not explored other possibilities such as other commenters mentioned. We have a governator who wants to put a tax increase on the shoulders of the voters but has a backroom deal with a $200 billion pipe dream that essentially muck up the Delta.

TomBenigno
|
July 21, 2011
Watcher:

I won't respond to your comment. It's not fact.
AugustMarch
|
July 21, 2011
Watcher:

It may sit well with you to lose your voice but you do realize this article was written about the people gaining a voice. Let's not trivialize the governors backroom dealings just because you don't care.
TomBenigno
|
July 21, 2011
Sitcome watcher:

This issue is more like Lost in Space? DANGER, DANGER?
Ornley_Gumfudgen
|
July 20, 2011
Funny, it sort of reminds me of an ole sitcom Firesign Theater group who quipped, "Sit back, take a deep breath and let your mind wander just as it usually does."

TomBenigno
|
July 20, 2011
Disgruntled readers:

Regardless of your opinions, the project is going foward. Step back and take a deep breath.
Ornley_Gumfudgen
|
July 20, 2011
Cont

inta believin we're makin thangs better fer our environment but mainly puttin more money inta farmer's pockets, mainly corporate farmers still in business as th EPA laws we have created ta stem th environmental problems we have also created, as driven them out of business. All th while not even considerin th damages ta th ecology that other businesses an jobs depend on fer their livelihood ta supply us goods, services an food we all need ta survive.

Just because this canal MIGHT benefit some farmers an create some jobs fer our local economy don't mean it's a good idea fer all of humanity as a whole an tinkerin with mother nature shows we have actually made thangs a whole lot worse instead of better fer everyone an only those who come out on th top of th heap are th local farmers who directly profit frum it's installation.

Nope, I do believe we all need ta sit down an take another look at this thang before we create another Hetch Hechy ecological disaster.

I am not against better water management but not at th expense of th health of our planet an th peoples who populate it. If we look at th problem I believe we can come up with a workable solution fer th benefit of everyone an not just a select few.
Ornley_Gumfudgen
|
July 20, 2011
Well lets take a historical look at what all this "water management" has done fer all of us shall we?

Army Corps of Engineers, in a jobs project, comes in an establishes th levies allowin th creation of islands on basically worthless land that gets farmed by farmers who were granted this land formerly only inhabited by local tribal Indians and made huge profits with th majority of th rest of th citizens footin th majority of th bill.

Then came th irrigation projects that built th Delta Mendota canal, again funded with public monies, an again profitin th local dirt farmer by providin yet more water ta formerly desert land while th selenium an fertilizer polluted runoff, mixed in with th organic waste from th dairy farmers further pollutin th streams, rivers, bays an oceans which, with depleted oxygen levels, kill th fish that our fishing industries depend on to help feed th planet.

Now th Delta Mendota wasn't large enough ta deliver water ta th farmers an large metropolitan areas like those in th LA basin so we make a bad situation worse with th Californea Aqueduct.

Then we come up ta present time with th pipe dream with this Peripheral Canal thang, delude ourselves
AugustMarch
|
July 20, 2011
Disregarded reader:

Don't worry too much about it. But a lot of serious questions were raised and based on your response I don't think I would consider you a reliable source on the matter at this point.



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