Delta Flows Newsletter
Special Edition for January 14, 2010
 For January 14, 2010
 
"Meet the new boss.  Same as the old boss."                                     
                        ---The Who
delta-sunset
 
Questions on Economic Data and Value of Westlands Agriculture
 
In his blog Valley Economy, Dr Jefferey Michael, delves into the accuracy of agricultural monetary value as reported by Lloyd Carter/Dan Bacher and Mike Wade of the California Farm Water Coalition.  Dr. Michael points out there are inaccuracies in the economic figures and interpretations made by both sides. (To read the blog click here.). http://valleyecon.blogspot.com/2010/01/bachercarter-vs-wade-on-westlands.html
 
At the end of the blog posting, Dr. Michael suggests that people should ignore the articles posted by Carter/Bacher and Mike Wade and laments that he should have followed his own advice.
 
Restore the Delta thinks just the opposite.  We maintain that California lawmakers and policy experts need a thorough and  unbiased economic analysis of the true value of Central Valley agriculture vs. the true value of Delta assets in the present, and the potential economic value of restored fisheries in the Delta vs. the costs doing water business as usual in California and/or for building, maintaining, and operating new conveyance.  We respect Dr. Michael's independent thinking and believe that he is just the person to oversee such a project.  (And indeed, Dr. Michael validated Mr. Carter's assessment that Westlands Water District farms account for of 1% of national agricultural dollar values.  In other words, Westlands farmers are not exactly feeding the nation as they claim.)
 
Carter/Bacher state up front  in their analysis that their estimates were rough.  Restore the Delta covered their story as a way to raise awareness of the issue.    We do not have the capacity to perform a full economic analysis of the value of the Delta vs. Westside SJ Valley agriculture, and would welcome an independent institution such as the Eberhardt School of Business at the University of Pacific leading the analysis. 
 
As an outreach/education/advocacy organization on behalf of the Delta, it is part of Restore the Delta's mission to question that which is presented to the public in a biased/untruthful/incomplete manner (such as the farm vs. fish debate) to undermine the perceived economic/environmental/societal value of the Delta.  Thus, we would welcome an unbiased critical economic analysis of the questions at hand, as we have full confidence that such an analysis will reveal the true economic/environmental value of the Delta to all of California.
Lester Snow Appointed Head of the California Resources Agency
 
Numerous Restore the Delta supporters sent us word of this appointment over the last week, and we would be negligent not to mention the announcement.  However, when we think about Lester Snow replacing Mike Chrisman as head of the California Resources Agency, those  lyrics about the new boss and the old boss keep running through our minds, making it difficult to think of any snappy comments.
 
However, when we consider that Lester Snow is the primary individual responsible for the destruction of the Delta, the appointment seems appropriate, as he will be poised to finish the Delta off.  This isn't change.  This is Governor Schwarzenegger's continuation of the status quo for the Delta --using it as a temporary hub for shipping California's water from north to south - with new facilities to export more water than in the past.
 
If Lester Snow will need to go through the confirmation process, (there is a possibility that he can serve this year without confirmation), we will let you know when, where, and how to protest his confirmation.
This Just In
The Two-Gates Project, also known as the Delta full-pumping plan, has been put on the shelf, as Department of Interior experts need to review the science behind the project.
National Academies Project on Sustainable Water and Environmental Management in the California Bay Delta
First Meeting
When:  January 24th through Januar 28th
Where:  UC Davis
 
To attend this  meeting, please register at:
http://www.surveygizmo.com/s/218342/6p4v2
 
We thought this was going to be a review of the science underlying NOAA's biological opinion on the effect of the water projects on fish.   Not exactly.
 
"At the request of Congress and the Departments of the Interior and Commerce, a committee of independent experts will be formed to review the scientific basis of actions that have been and could be taken to simultaneously achieve both an environmentally sustainable Bay-Delta and a reliable water supply."  (Emphasis added.)
 
In other words, the first thing worth noting about the National Academies project on Sustainable Water and Environmental Management in the California Bay-Delta is that those "coequal goals" we've come to dislike so much have made it right into the project scope.
 
These are the same coequal goals championed by Phil Isenberg as Chair of the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force, while Mr. Isenberg's lobbying firm continued to receive payment for lobbying on behalf of the Irvine Ranch Water District.
 
On the other hand, we are holding hoping that this panel of well-credentialed experts will operate independently.  The only direct ties that we found between a panel member and a vested California water interest are between Dr. Michael J. McGuire and the Metropolitan Water District.
 
We cannot help wondering why water quality expertise is being provided by a former assistant general manager of the Metropolitan Water District.  After that, Dr. Michael J. McGuire founded a Santa Monica environmental consulting firm that advises public water utilities and industries on complying with water quality standards.  Dr. McGuire's career-long use of applied research to resolve drinking water quality issues is quite impressive.  But we thought the main issue here was going to be water quality for fish.  And if someone on this NAS panel has ties to the Metropolitan Water District, why can't we then have a Delta engineer with expertise on Delta levees added to the panel?  Or why not Bill Jennings, who knows more about Delta water quality than any other person in California?  Or at least a water quality expert who did not work for Met?
 
We are hoping that this is not another process that will find ways to buttress the status quo.  And, if it is, it may not be the committee's fault.  Their mandate is to find ways to do the unsustainable: fix the Bay-Delta ecosystem while continuing to send water out of it.  Maybe, just maybe, if we are lucky, one of these impressive experts will ask, what would happen if the first priority were to restore the Delta?  How could we then help California's other regions to move toward self-sufficient water supplies?
The 2009 Water Lobbying Report
Next week, Restore the Delta will release its 2009 water lobbying report.  Restore the Delta staff is carefully combing through public records to see how much was spent by whom to lobby for the recently passed water package and water bond.  Here's a preview: Metropolitan Water District spent $917,768.00 lobbying on water legislation in Sacramento during 2009.  While the report itself does not show the percentage of time spent lobbying on each water bill throughout the year, it is worth noting that Met spent time lobbying on all the water bills listed that evolved into the end water legislation. 
 
We wonder how Los Angeles rate payers feel about their water agencies and districts spending so much for lobbying on legislation to move toward building a project that will significantly raise their water rates?
In This Issue
Questions on Economic Data and Value of Westlands Agriculture
Lester Snow Appointed Head of the California Resources Agency
This Just In
National Academies Project on Sustainable Water and Environmental Management in the California Bay Delta
The 2009 Water Lobbying Report
Bridge in Delta
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Restore the Delta is working everyday through public education and citizen activism to ensure the restoration and future sustainability of the California Delta. Your general contribution can help us sponsor outreach events, enable us to educate Californians on what makes the Delta so special, and assist us in building a coalition that will be recognized by government water agencies as they make water management decisions.
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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 - a coalition of Delta residents, business leaders, civic organizations, community groups, faith-based communities, union locals, farmers, fishermen, and environmentalists - seeks to strengthen the health of the estuary and the well-being of Delta communities. Restore the Delta works to improve water quality so that fisheries and farming can thrive together again in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Sincerely,
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla
Restore the Delta
Email: barbara@restorethedelta.org
Web: http://www.restorethedelta.org