Dan Bacher, THE DAILY KOS
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta, today resigned from the Stakeholder Engagement Committee (SCE), for the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority (DCDCA).
“When our good faith efforts produce no results and are met with resistance, Restore the Delta will shift and move into a new direction to ensure that the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary is protected and restored for future generations,” she said.
“We have, therefore, resigned from the Stakeholder Engagement Committee, for the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority. We simply could not move the Department of Water Resources to work on true problem solving for the estuary. Read our letter to learn more,” she concluded.
Here is the full letter:
Mr. Graham Bradner
Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority
Sent by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
This letter is to confirm my resignation from the Stakeholder Engagement Committee effective immediately.
As I stated at the September 22, 2021 SEC meeting, when I joined the SEC, I did not believe that Restore the Delta would grow to embrace the Delta Conveyance Project or that our efforts would stop the DCA’s pursuit of constructing a single tunnel through the Delta. I did treat the efforts as a good faith negotiation where we could do the hard work together of problem solving around the significant impacts to the region that will be part of Delta Conveyance construction and operations.
While DCA interests are pretty much the polar opposite of Restore the Delta’s disinterest in the Delta tunnel, we felt that the DCA’s information sharing under Kathryn Mallon’s leadership first, and then yours, was fair, straightforward, and filled with details for us to consider, to challenge, and to critique with an eye toward improving the project. We do appreciate the DCA’s collective efforts over the last two years in working with SEC members.
Our frustration and reasons for resignation are in response to DWR input, leadership, and treatment of the more serious impacts that will impact all Delta communities, but especially environmental justice communities, with construction and operation of the tunnel. First, DWR’s weak and inadequate responses to the current drought have placed Delta water quality needs dead last in terms of state water management priorities.
Second, the “voluntary agreement” process to set Delta flow standards apart from the Bay-Delta Plan, has delayed much needed action to re-establish flows as a mitigation strategy for harmful algal blooms which are a constant and present danger in the Delta. Moreover, the “voluntary agreement” process, which will serve as the cornerstone for Delta tunnel operations, leaves the Delta’s environmental justice community out of the decision-making process, along with Northern California Tribes. Restore the Delta sees this as an extension of California’s water rights system, which by design, left the Tribes, and people of color out of land ownership with associated water rights. Such a model no longer serves the present and should not be the model by which the Department of Water Resources handles closed door negotiations for California’s most essential natural resource – water.
Third, DWR’s delay in providing requested data to public interest groups like Restore the Delta (and we were more than willing to accept data calculations to protect confidentiality of environmental justice respondent surveys) feels like nothing more than foot dragging. Their delay coupled with decisions not to evaluate water quality impacts through an environmental justice lens for the upcoming EIR, and the less than adequate presentation on air quality data at yesterday’s meeting, indicate that they are cherry picking environmental justice topics, responses, etc. to give the illusion of care without doing the true analysis that is needed, or putting Delta environmental justice communities front and center of needed protection with the project. Clearly, Stockton is being considered as outside the footprint of the project, even though the tunnel will very likely be moved further east into San Joaquin County. Moreover, when we see DWR isolating one vulnerable group within the region, like South Stockton’s environmental justice community, from full analysis, we can surmise that impacts for rural and urban Delta residents will be downplayed and not adequately mitigated. DWR won’t even examine the affordability of the project for Southern California ratepayers who are part of California’s environmental justice communities.
Whether through the voluntary agreement process, tunnel planning, or drought measures, DWR makes winners and losers within California water management, rather working to do right by the majority of people – especially California’s most vulnerable populations.
We see this as institutional failure within the Department of Water Resources and antithetical to the Newsom Administration’s public claims of putting environmental justice front and center in California.
Thank you for considering our comments. We hope the DCA can use our comments to push for a fairer response to impacted parties described in our comments.
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla Executive Director