Op Ed: Bay Delta Conservation Plan a boondoggle
by Bill Wells, California Delta Chambers & Visitors Bureau
Jul 24, 2014 | 3526 views | 3 3 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mark Cowin, in his recent piece in the Tracy Press, was correct about one thing: “There has been considerable misinformation promulgated about the BDCP (Bay Delta Conservation Plan), which has confused the public.” Much of the misinformation has come from Cowin’s Department of Water Resources and the Natural Resource Agency.

It should tell you something when Nancy Vogel, the assistant director of public affairs of the DWR, charged with maintaining a good public image for the project, makes as much as Gerry Meral, the assistant director of the Natural Resource Agency, who was until recently in charge of the project. (According to the 2013 state worker salary database, both made $108,000 per year.) The DWR routinely fails to answer questions from the public. I exchanged several emails with a staff environmental scientist from the DWR, asking for a few examples where a huge diversion, like the one proposed in the BDCP, actually benefited the source waterway. The last email I received was that she was on vacation and would respond when she returned. I never heard another thing.

The heart of the BDCP is not conservation but a scheme to divert the Sacramento River around the Delta, which could effectively drain the watershed and cause further salt intrusion into the area. Removing an additional 800,000 acre-feet of water, as Cowin proposes, will create even more problems by killing more fish and destroying agriculture. When you add the impact of 24-hours-a-day construction going on for possibly 10 years and 155,000 construction workers commuting daily to the Delta during that time period, it will create more of a disaster, with the construction workers competing with agricultural trucks and equipment, residents and visitors for space on narrow roads, many atop levees with no guard rails.

Cowin mentions the much-maligned Delta smelt. It is not only the smelt that are suffering. It is all fish in the Delta — salmon, striped bass, sturgeon, etc. — because of excessive water exports.

You hear DWR officials warning of the earthquake risk in the Delta, and many times they mention the Hayward Fault as a particular problem. The Hayward Fault runs through the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area, including the cities of Berkeley, Oakland and Fremont. When it has a major seismic event, the Delta will be a minor concern compared to the damage that will take place in these heavily populated cities. Just for the record, there has never been an instance of a Delta levee failing because of an earthquake.

Fortunately, there is a broad coalition of California citizens who are working to defeat the BDCP, and I am confident that as more people realize what a gigantic boondoggle it is, it will be abandoned. The downside is that a lot of hard-earned taxpayers’ dollars will be squandered first.

• Bill Wells is executive director of the California Delta Chambers & Visitors Bureau.

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July 25, 2014
Mr. Wells,

I find your pettiness of the salary of the two individuals childish. Nancy Vogel has a Master's degree from the University of California. Mark Cowin has a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Stanford University. I would say that both these individuals are under paid. Mr. Wells, What is your degree in, misinformation?

There are enough lies coming from both sides on this issue. Stick to the facts, You sound like a school yard bully. The numbers that you state, (150,000 workers for 10 years) where did you come up with these numbers? I am sure the readers, would like to know. Like I said Mr. Wells, Stick to the facts, this kind of mud slinging does no one any good.
July 25, 2014
Thanks for the input. I said 155,000 jobs and was quoting Mark Cowin: "The BDCP would create approximately 155,000 construction jobs and increase economic activity in local communities where those jobs are located. That would be in addition to jobs created through habitat restoration." the 10 years is the estimated construction period for the project. Nancy Vogel said in an interview with a local newspaper that the construction would take "6 to 8 years" but BDCP documents say: "Construction of the proposed BDCP water delivery facilities would be sequenced over approximately 10 years."

If Ms. Vogel and Mr. Cowin are underpaid they should consider leaving state service and going into the private sector where they could earn more money.

I don't think I am the bully, I was correcting the misinformation Cowin put out. My degree is in management but I have a lifetime experience in sales and marketing that is why the truth is so important to me. If these people would have stuck to the truth they would be a lot further along in the process.

July 25, 2014
Thank you for running Bill Wells' article to counteract the government propaganda that spews out of Sacramento like the Russian government was famous for during the cold war. I've learned our government does a great job at feeding the population a pablum of misinformation, as Bill testifies. Unfortunately, this misinformation is all paid for by your hard working tax dollars they look upon as an endless bucket of money to fund their six figure salaries, millions of dollars to consultants, and schemes like the twin tunnel and bullet train. Now they have even convinced counties they can levy for more tax dollars from your property taxes to help fund the twin tunnels. Ouch!

Many of us just got as much as a 40% increase in our property taxes for this year due to a return of standard rates from the financial meltdown years decreased rates the past few years in San Joaquin County. So I don't think many of us are in the mood for tax increases via water bonds or anything else. They could accomplish their goals by spending 50% less on Dr. Robert Pyke’s alternative plan, but saving money is not one of their priority goals.

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