Archive for the ‘Delta & Environment’ Category

Gov. Newsom signs exec order phasing out gas-powered cars, passenger trucks sold in state by 2035

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020

To “drastically reduce demand for fossil fuel in California’s fight against climate change”

Transportation currently accounts for more than 50 percent of California’s greenhouse gas emissions   

Zero-emission vehicles are a key part of California’s clean, innovation economy – already California’s second largest global export market  

Order also directs state to take more actions to tackle the dirtiest oil extraction and support workers and job retention and creation as we make a just transition away from fossil fuels  

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today announced that he will aggressively move the state further away from its reliance on climate change-causing fossil fuels while retaining and creating jobs and spurring economic growth – he issued an executive order requiring sales of all new passenger vehicles to be zero-emission by 2035 and additional measures to eliminate harmful emissions from the transportation sector. (The text of today’s executive order can be found here and a copy can be found here.)

The transportation sector is responsible for more than half of all of California’s carbon pollution, 80 percent of smog-forming pollution and 95 percent of toxic diesel emissions – all while communities in the Los Angeles Basin and Central Valley see some of the dirtiest and most toxic air in the country.

“This is the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change,” said Governor Newsom. “For too many decades, we have allowed cars to pollute the air that our children and families breathe. Californians shouldn’t have to worry if our cars are giving our kids asthma. Our cars shouldn’t make wildfires worse – and create more days filled with smoky air. Cars shouldn’t melt glaciers or raise sea levels threatening our cherished beaches and coastlines.”

Following the order, the California Air Resources Board will develop regulations to mandate that 100 percent of in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks are zero-emission by 2035 – a target which would achieve more than a 35 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and an 80 percent improvement in oxides of nitrogen emissions from cars statewide. In addition, the Air Resources Board will develop regulations to mandate that all operations of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles shall be 100 percent zero emission by 2045 where feasible, with the mandate going into effect by 2035 for drayage trucks. To ensure needed infrastructure to support zero-emission vehicles, the order requires state agencies, in partnership with the private sector, to accelerate deployment of affordable fueling and charging options. It also requires support of new and used zero-emission vehicle markets to provide broad accessibility to zero-emission vehicles for all Californians. The executive order will not prevent Californians from owning gasoline-powered cars or selling them on the used car market.

California will be leading the nation in this effort – joining 15 countries that have already committed to phase out gasoline-powered cars and using our market power to push zero-emission vehicle innovation and drive down costs for everyone.

By the time the new rule goes into effect, zero-emission vehicles will almost certainly be cheaper and better than the traditional fossil fuel powered cars. The upfront cost of electric vehicles are projected to reach parity with conventional vehicles in just a matter of years, and the cost of owning the car – both in maintenance and how much it costs to power the car mile for mile – is far less than a fossil fuel burning vehicle.

The executive order sets clear deliverables for new health and safety regulations that protect workers and communities from the impacts of oil extraction. It supports companies who transition their upstream and downstream oil production operations to cleaner alternatives. It also directs the state to make sure taxpayers are not stuck with the bill to safely close and remediate former oil fields. To protect the health and safety of our communities and workers, the Governor is also asking the Legislature to end the issuance of new hydraulic fracturing permits by 2024.

The executive order directs state agencies to develop strategies for an integrated, statewide rail and transit network, and incorporate safe and accessible infrastructure into projects to support bicycle and pedestrian options, particularly in low-income and disadvantaged communities.

This action continues the Governor’s commitment to strengthening California’s resilience while lowering carbon emissions – essential to meeting California’s air quality and climate goals. In the last six months alone, the California Air Resources Board has approved new regulations requiring truck manufacturers to transition to electric zero-emission trucks beginning in 2024 and the Governor signed an MOU with 14 other states to advance and accelerate the market for electric medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. Last fall, California led a multi-state coalition in filing a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s attempt to revoke portions of a 2013 waiver that allows the state to implement its Advanced Clean Car Standards.

Last September, Governor Newsom took action to leverage the state’s transportation systems and purchasing power to strengthen climate mitigation and resiliency and to measure and manage climate risks across the state’s $700 billion pension investments. To mitigate climate threats to our communities and increase carbon sequestration, the Governor invested in forest health and fuel reduction and held utilities accountable for building resiliency. The Governor also directed state agencies to develop a comprehensive strategy to build a climate-resilient water system and made a historic investment to develop the workforce for California’s future carbon-neutral economy.

 

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Frazier to introduce bill to combat major cause of greenhouse gas emissions in California – wildfires

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020

Challenges CA Air Resources Board to “pause and think” about effectiveness of Cap and Trade program

Jim Frazier

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Fairfield) announced today that he plans to introduce legislation in the upcoming session to fundamentally change the way California reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

  “While I believe the work the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has been doing is laudable, we need to shift gears and address the main cause of carbon emissions in California, and right now, that is unquestionably wildfires,” said Frazier. “The data is undeniable and staggering.”

  According the U.S. Geological Survey, in 2018 alone, the wildfires in California were estimated to have released emissions equivalent to roughly 68 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. By contrast, after seven years of reduction efforts from Cap and Trade funded projects to date, is estimated to be 45 million metric tons – at the cost of billions of dollars.

  Frazier went on to say that he believes CARB needs to “pause and think” carefully about their programs and overall efficacy of the resources devoted to them, and reprioritize Cap and Trade dollars to address the immediate threat and environmental devastation that wildfires are causing. In addition to the further advancement of global warming, these fires result in property damage, loss of life, economic peril, and long-term health issues.

  “The science and statistics of the devastation that wildfires are causing are not just limited to the land. These fires are pumping more pollution – far more toxic – than the burning of fossil fuels, and we must take a critical look at how we dedicate our precious financial resources to their reduction.  As we know, wildfires are a major contributor to the advancement of global warming.”

  Frazier will introduce a bill this December.

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New Name. Same Game. Delta Conveyance Project – tunnel moves forward – Part 2: Stakeholders & Opposition

Saturday, July 18th, 2020

County residents opposed to project work to limit impact and secure benefits if it is built

“I feel in a lot of ways this committee is just going through the motions. I’m starting to feel like a pawn in a chess game.” – Antioch resident Jim Cox.

By Allen Payton

What was planned as two tunnels beneath the California Delta to divert fresh water from north of the Delta to areas south, is now a single tunnel plan that is referred to as the Delta Conveyance Project (DCP). The effort is being led by the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority (DCA) which was formed by and makes recommendation to the California Department of Water Resources (DWR).

In the first part of this two-part series, you read about the background and latest efforts to move the project forward. In this part, you will hear from local voices who serve on the Stakeholders Engagement Committee (SEC) and what they are doing to both fight the tunnel, and if it is built to limit its impact and to secure any benefits for our county and the Delta.

Stakeholders Engagement Committee – Local Voices

Because Contra Costa County and the water districts in the county either oppose or are neutral on the Delta tunnel project, no agency from the county is part of the DCA. But there are three people who live and one who works in Contra Costa County and serve on the Stakeholder Engagement Committee. They are Bethel Island resident and retired engineer David Gloski, Discovery Bay resident and real estate appraiser Karen Mann, Antioch resident Jim Cox, a retired fishing boat captain, and Oakland resident Michael Moran, who works for the East Bay Regional Park District as Supervising Naturalist at Big Break Regional Shoreline Visitor Center at the Delta in Oakley.

David Gloski, The Engineer – At Large Member

“I don’t want to understate that I’m against it and I appreciate the people fighting it,” said Gloski, who volunteered to be part of the SEC at the urging of others who also oppose the tunnel. “But I, having a home on the water and having an engineering background – and this DCA SEC group is more engineering focused – we want to make sure they don’t screw anything up.”

“The majority of the people on the stakeholder committee are probably against the tunnel,” he stated. “It includes the lady (Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla) from Restore the Delta. We’ve been effective in preventing them from doing things that don’t make sense and would negatively affect people in Contra Costa.”

“To me, they walk and chew gum at the same time. They’re working on designs and plans without having the permits. They have to do some of it or they don’t know what they’re asking to permit,” Gloski explained. “Similarly, we aren’t doing ourselves any benefit by just opposing it. Because if it does go through, we can get a lot of things done, like new roads, and parks. But you have to participate.”

“I’ve raised my hand to say, ‘if you’re going to build it, let’s get good things out of it, and make sure they don’t screw things up,” he reiterated. “I think the county is mistaken for not being more involved. The DCA made changes because of our inputs. Unfortunately, I’m not sure the inputs are the best from the county’s perspective. For example, an original plan included road and bridge improvements which were eliminated when we were successful in having a maintenance shaft moved further away from Discover Bay. So, you might have won the battle but lost the war.”

“I think we might benefit from more representatives. But right now, the county is just fighting it,” Gloski added.

To give your input to David Gloski, you can join his Facebook page, David Gloski DCA Stakeholder.

Mann expressed her concern for the location and proximity to Discovery Bay of one potential Maintenance Shaft. From DCA 2020-05-27-UpdatedMapBooks.

Karen Mann – South Delta Local Business

Mann, an appraiser in Discovery Bay, is another member of the stakeholders committee who opposes the tunnel, as the issue literally hits close to home for her like Gloski.

“I’m fighting for our Delta,” she said. “As I’m talking to you my grandchildren are loading the boat, because that’s what we do as a family. We spend time on the Delta.”

“I’m an active boater. I skipper my own 37-foot boat. I’m a very able-bodied skipper. My dad had me at the helm since I was 9 or 10 years old in San Pablo Bay,” Mann explained. “So, I’ve described to this group the terror that I had when I encountered a barge in the middle of Old River. That left me about 25’ (to get by it). My boat is 12-feet-wide. I could feel the propellers of the tugboat drawing me toward that barge. My boat weighs 22,000 lbs. Imagine if that was a ski boat with inexperienced skiers or a family with a father and his kids on board.”

“The number of barges every day that they were talking about loading, I told them ‘you better think twice. You will have lives of families and boaters on your hands,’” she continued.

Effort to Postpone Meetings & Work Due to COVID-19 Unsuccessful

“Through this whole pandemic thing, myself and a bunch of others have said ‘let’s hold off on these meetings’ because we can’t meet with our people,” Mann stated. “The chief engineer said, ‘we’re going to move forward, and we hate to leave you behind. But that’s how it goes. Governor Newsom wants this going.’”

“I piped up and said ‘it appears to me Gov. Newsom his been very busy with this pandemic thing and his three-hour-long press conferences each day, and the Delta tunnel is probably not at the forefront of his thinking,” she shared.  “For us to be told, ‘no, that’s out of the question, we’re on a timeline’, this is just not right.”

According to a report by the Sacramento News & Review, the effort to postpone the committee meetings and the work got a Sacramento County Supervisor and the Delta Protection Commission involved.

“The dust-up has caused Sacramento County Supervisor Don Nottoli to challenge one state official about transparency, while the Delta Protection Commission has officially asked California planners to halt their work on the tunnel during the virus outbreak. So far, that hasn’t happened,” reported the SN&R.

Contra Costa County Supervisor Diane Burgis serves on the Delta Protection Commission, which  “is supposed to safeguard the environmental and community health of the estuary as part of California’s landmark 1992 Delta Protection Act.”

But the committee meetings are continuing, just online for now, as most if not all other government meetings are currently throughout the state.

No Project Funding or Route, Yet

“I asked them where are we getting the money from? Apparently, there’s no checkbook. There’s no limit. There’s no talk about expenses. It’s like carte blanch. Money is no object,” Mann stated. “There isn’t an official route, yet. Because they’re trying to decide if there is going to be a central corridor which would be within 600 feet of the Discovery Bay water treatment plan and homes on the golf course.”

“That’s not the best of it,” she continued. “The best of it is they’re using their maps of that central location they would have taken that tunnel underneath the only waste treatment plant in the area.”

“They would also be going through our artesian wells,” Mann added.

“If there were any problems, “they would shut off the water and waste treatment for Discovery Bay. How could we live here? We’re not a third world country,” she said with a laugh.

“I’ve been very passionate about those two items,” Mann stated.

She, Cox and Moran all expressed concerns about trucks on Highway 4 east of Discovery Bay and how the committee’s efforts got that stopped.

“There was also going to be a maintenance shaft near Discovery Bay which would require truck traffic on Highway 4. Heavy duty trucks carrying the muck and dirt. Those bridges are old and couldn’t handle it,” she explained.

“Now they’re talking about using the eastern corridor closer to Stockton. But they told us ‘don’t get too excited. Nothing is decided. We’ll take your recommendations, but we will make our own decisions.’” That didn’t sit well with Mann.

“Is this how government is supposed to work?” she asked. “I will say they did listen on the barge issue. I think health and safety got them.”

Fire Marshal, DB Town Manager Shocked

“We took that information to the fire marshal and Discovery Bay Town Manager and they were shocked,” Mann shared. “Neither one of them knew about any of it. They both wrote impassioned letters. We have three fire stations that serve 128 square miles. The engineers thought we had nine stations.”

“So, who’s going to handle the issues…with a project like this?” she asked. “Someone’s going to get hurt and they’re going to need EMT’s. I guarantee you one of their trucks will have an accident and block traffic for hours, if not kill someone.”

“I’ve been sending the chief engineer photos of truck accidents and concerns that we have for our health and safety,” she continued. They had no idea of traffic count. They’re using traffic counts from five years ago from San Joaquin County and they don’t keep track of traffic on Highway 4 and the bridges in our county. So, their traffic counts are completely inaccurate.

“So, I’m wondering who’s really in charge here,” Mann said. “We’re supposed to trust them with building a tunnel 150 feet under ground? If they don’t have this basic information how can they handle the bigger issues?”

“The Delta has been something in my family since I was a child,” she shared. “It’s a way to keep families together. So, when you say Delta you’re talking about families. This life is too short, and you have to enjoy it while it lasts.”

Mann is both a residential and commercial appraiser, which is why she represents the business community on the committee.

She’s also the president of Save the California Delta Alliance.

“We have an attorney that got them to back out of the other tunnel project,” Mann shared.

“It’s just a bunch of homeowners. This is our home. The waterway is our backyard. Our playground. Don’t mess with it,” she concluded before heading out into the Delta for the weekend on the family boat.

From 2020-04-22-SECMeetingPresentation.

“Same Old Song and Dance” on Fish Protections Says a Frustrated Jim Cox – Sports Fishing

Antioch resident Jim Cox ran a six-pack, sport fishing charter boat for 23 years and has been in the Delta since the early 1980’s and is now retired.

“I’m there representing fishing interests,” he shared. “It’s been a very frustrating thing to be involved in. They want us to come back with input from our constituents. The most common thing I hear is ‘what’s going to happen with Clifton Court?’”

The Clifton Court Forebay is where the water is collected south of the Delta before being pumped further south.

Delta Smelt. Photo from DCA SEC.

“When the current is flowing in there, it’s so strong the fish can’t get out,” Cox explained. “The screens on the pumps are not designed that well. Estimates are anywhere from 15-50,000 striped bass that are trapped in there. They’re only 8 or 9 inches but they’re fully matured fish.”

“They say Clifton Court Forebay is a separate project,” he continued. “I’ve had conversations with Terry Buckman from DWR. The Delta Improvement Act of 2009 has the two goals of habitat restoration and less reliance for water supply. They’re definitely focused on the water supply.”

“They call it EcoRestore, which is part of DWR and the ironic thing is they say ‘we’re not working on that for another year or so.’ This committee will be disbanded before then,” Cox stated.

“This is the same song and dance that fishermen have been told for the past 25 years,” he complained. “In 1994 there was the CalFed agreement. The water contractors were supposed to build state of the art screens across Clifton Court so fish couldn’t get in. But it’s still never been built. “

‘Most of these DWR folks are in their 40’s so they weren’t around…and they’re taking the word for it from others at DWR,” said Cox.

“The real problem is predation (preying of one animal on another), primarily for striped bass,” he continued. “It is a problem because the current flows in there, year-round, 24 hours a day. Larger fish just stick around at the entrance and pick off the smaller fish. They try to make it sound like it’s the striped bass. It’s not. It’s the fact they never built the screens.”

“We were told Fish and Game have plans to remove predators. They have no plans for any such thing. They say it’s a useless idea. Once you get rid of one predator another species will move in,” Cox shared. “Then they said the problem is the outer screens. There aren’t any outer screens. It consists of rabbit wire fence to keep boats and floating logs out of Clifton Court. It has nothing to do with fish.”

“They won’t say anything of how they’re going to make it better. This is why it’s becoming a frustrating endeavor for me,” he stated. “On the one hand they are being responsive to some complaints. But it all revolves around building the tunnel.”

From 2020-04-22-SECMeetingPresentation.

“They won’t even listen to the fishermen. I’ve been tempted to resign a couple times over this. But, if I’m not there who’s going to bring this up?” Cox asked, rhetorically. “First, they talked about having the committee a year. But now they’re talking about extending it.”

“It’s very frustrating trying to get them to listen,” he added.

On finances Cox said “we get told things in bits and pieces. The plan is for all of this to be paid for by the water users, the water contractors. The fine print is they’ve agreed to this in theory, but not in reality. They’re not going to agree to anything until they see the final plan. Over the last year, they’ve been trying to do what took them three years originally on the twin tunnels, to finalize this plan, to be able to move forward.”

“When this COVID thing hit, they said everyone wants to continue to work on this. That’s BS,” he said echoing Karen Mann’s comments. “No one wanted to continue to do this. But they kept pushing on this because they have financing deadlines. So, nope. They’re going to keep on going.”

“I feel in a lot of ways this committee is just going through the motions. I’m starting to feel like a pawn in a chess game,” he said with a chuckle.

Another financial issue Cox shared about was the pay for the DCA’s executive director Kathryn Mallon, who is earning $47,000 per month in her role. That’s in spite of the $54 billion deficit the state is projecting due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another report by the Sacramento News & Review covers that issue and the opposition from the water agencies that are expected to reimburse the state for her compensation.

Proximity of proposed sites to existing recreation facilities. Arrow points to Big Break in Oakley. From 2020-04-22-SECMeetingPresentation.

Parks District Employee Offers Different Perspective: Mike Moran – Ex-Officio

Mike Moran, although an Oakland resident, represents Contra Costa County interests on the SEC, having worked in Eastern Contra Costa County for 26 years, as of August 1st. He works for the East Bay Regional Park District at the Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley.

“Big Break was an asparagus farm that flooded in 1927,” he shared. It’s a 1,688 acre park that’s mostly under water. The East County trail runs through there. Plus, they have a 1,200 square foot model of the Delta on the ground.

“In my position at the park commission and the SEC, we don’t take a pro or a con on this issue. We try to interpret this thing and why it’s being proposed, why it’s being opposed, and not just build it or don’t build it,” Moran explained. “I’m an ex-officio giving folks’ perspective from the East Bay Regional Parks point of view. There’s not a direct correlation on the tunnel.”

“We have land out here and we have folks paying taxes to get access to that land. So, what does this mean? What is the impact going to be where our constituents live?” he asked.

Proposed new Southern Forebay adjacent to Clifton Court Forebay. From 2019-12-11-DeltaConveyanceSystemOverview.

Moran also studied fisheries in grad school. Asked about the fish and Clifton Court Forebay that Jim Cox is concerned about, he said, “It’s part of the state water project, right now. The new forebay would be right next to Clifton Court, built to the west.”

However, Cox responded with, “The fact is that they still intend to use Clifton Court fifty-percent of the time. If the tunnel water was the only water heading into the canal then it would be fine, but that is not the case. Clifton Court will still be part of the water system and that is why I feel improvements to it should be part of the project, not a separate project.”

“The Harvey Banks Pumping Plant is part of the State Water Project. That water is sent through the California Aqueduct and the South Bay Aqueduct serving Alameda and Santa Clara Counties,” Moran explained.

“The feds will require an Environmental Impact Study on the project because it affects federal waters. That’s the Jones Pumping Plant, which is part of the federal water project. That water is pumped through the Delta Mendota Canal,” he shared.

“At the Clifton Court Forebay, as the water is drawn in, there’s a screen that screens out the fish. But it’s old school. It’s an old screen,” Moran explained. “Jim’s saying if we’re going to put in these high-tech screens north of the Delta, let’s do it at Clifton Court.”

Proposed intakes near Hood. From 2020-04-22-SECMeetingPresentation.

“The screening for the proposed tunnel will be located in Hood (north of Elk Grove) on the eastern side of the Sacramento River. There will be three intakes and those would have brand new, top of the line fish screens,” he continued. “So, no fish will be put in that tunnel beyond those screens.”

“That’s one of the selling points for this whole project,” Moran stated. “What we have now, is the diversion is over the surface across the Delta. So, we’re bringing in both water and fish.”

He provided some history to the diversion of Delta water.

“The idea of diverting water, moving water from the north and east, through the Delta is from the 1910’s,” Moran shared. “A lot of the facilities we have now, are not the same thing, but they’re based on Robert Marshall’s plans. He ran the national parks and was pushing this big project of moving water around California. So, that’s part of the rationale of what we have, now.”

Proposed South Delta Facilities. From 2020-04-22-SECMeetingPresentation.

He also shared that “Antioch sued upstream water users in 1921 because of too much saltwater. So, this is nothing new.”

“Antioch is way ahead of the game putting in a brackish water plant. That’s a big, bold move,” Moran state. “But what are we going to do with saltwater intrusion up to CCWD?” (See related article)

Asked how the tunnel is a solution to the saltwater intrusion he answered, “It’s coming. If we divert or not, saltwater is coming. How do we prepare for that? In Antioch we build a desal plant. For those south of the Delta it’s a tunnel.”

“The way we’re doing things now, is water flows from the Sacramento River to the rest of the Delta. The pumps in Byron then pump it south,” Moran continued. “This water used to flow down the river and out into the Bay. Sometimes during the year, we have reverse flow, with the water from both the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers. When folks started taking water out in the Central Valley, less water comes out of the San Joaquin River. It was dry for 60 miles as recently as 1994. That was rectified through a court case.”

Proposed South Delta Conveyance Facilities Site Plan. From 2020-04-22-SECMeetingPresentation.

Because the San Joaquin River is diverted before it reaches and “punches through the Delta”, farmers in the Delta have been relying on Sacramento River water.

“The Sacramento River, high quality, great water, it’s pulled down to the pumps. Not all the water, it’s less than half,” he said. “That goes against the natural flow and messes up the ecology.”

“We’ve gotten a lot of benefit over the past 100 years,” with the current system, Moran shared.

“So, if we don’t do something, if saltwater comes up, or if a levee breaks or a beaver chews through, that’s going to stop the flow of water.”

Rendering of proposed Pumping Plant Site Plan at the Southern Forebay. From 2020-04-22-SECMeetingPresentation.

“Much of the land in the Delta is under sea level because of that peat soil, which is great for farming,” he explained. “But because of decisions made over 100 years ago, because people in the Delta communities and economies, and their way of life, it’s not sustainable.”

“We’re only taking water out when there’s enough to come through,” said Moran. “Like we’re doing, now when there’s Delta Smelt at the pumps, and we have water quality going down the tubes, the feds tell them to stop pumping.”

“It’s these local folks who are members of the committee saying, ‘wait a minute, we have lives that will be affected, too,’” he shared about his fellow SEC members. “The premise is let’s pretend this is getting built. If that’s the case, all you folks around the Delta who have this local experience and expertise, to advise the experts from the DWR.”

“So, that the water can be used all year round. That’s the point of it,” Moran continued. “Is there enough storage south of the Delta? If you’re going to pump water out of the Delta where are you going to store it? There’s the San Luis Reservoir, are we going to raise the height?”

Rendering of proposed Pumping Plant at the Southern Forebay. From 2020-04-22-SECMeetingPresentation.

“Every governor has dealt with it, but Newsom is getting more traction,” he shared. “They have this portfolio plan which includes storage, moving water and ground water restoration. Not just sticking straws in the Delta and sucking it.”

“When it’s a common pool and we all have to drink out of the Delta and we all have to be responsible for it including maintaining the levees, and agriculture in the Delta,” Moran concluded.

No Committee Member Supports the Tunnel

Asked about the members of the stakeholders committee and how they were chosen, Nazli Parvizi, the Stakeholder Engagement lead for the DCA, said, “There is not a single member on the committee who supports this project. That’s based on what they wrote in their applications and others, what they’ve said over and over during the meetings.”

“It was an individual application. Not everybody represents their area of work. The requirement was if you live, work or recreate in the Delta in certain categories,” she explained. “If you have an ag person you balance it out with an environmental person. So, I think we have a good broad representation.”

“What we’re excited about Karen…she’s as reliable a source on waterways and boating as Jim Cox would be,” Parvizi shared.

“It’s not a voting body. We don’t make decisions as the DCA,” she explained. “We try to come up with the best engineering and design, the concepts and drawings and give them to Department of Water and it’s up to them.”

“We’re doing our best to take into account the Delta as place,” Parvizi continued. “So, they don’t just make sense from an engineering standpoint, but also as Delta as place. The folks who lead the DCA are representatives from DWR and the agencies that are members of the DCA. Kathryn Mallon, the Executive Director of the DCA is listening and took into consideration the Delta as place. The SEC is the result of that.”

About the committee members’ involvement, she said, “It’s trying to make the best of the worst, while at the same time trying to make sure it doesn’t happen. Karen has done a great job for Discovery Bay and boaters.”

“So, fight on your own time, protest, sue us, whatever and we’re OK with that and several are suing us,” said Parvizi. “We do want to make sure we are respectful of what you care about. They give us incredibly valuable feedback.”

“They fight their war, but on the battles they’re very collaborative,” she stated. “We give them all this information, being transparent as possible and half of them send it to their lawyers, which is fine. But they tell us which is better, A, B or C, and we make our recommendations to DWR.”

“We haven’t seen two groups fight it out,” Parvizi said, and explained how the members of the SEC work collaboratively. “If you move it (the tunnel) this way, it’s good for fish, but if you move it here, it’s good for birds. Or it’s good for animals. But if you put it here, it’s good for business.”

“We can come up with the pros and cons and I think that’s very valuable,” she added.

Opposition Efforts Continue

Efforts continue to stop the new Delta tunnel by groups such as Restore the Delta that have been fighting since the twin tunnels plan was first proposed. They along with Contra Costa County and the other members of the Delta Counties Coalition, Delta residents, Delta business owners, tribal representatives, fishing and non-governmental organizations and other Delta community-based organizations have all asked the Department of Water Resources (DWR) to pause Delta tunnel planning processes that require public participation due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The Department of Water Resources has refused.

Contra Costa is represented on the DCC by County Supervisor Karen Mitchoff.

In their letter dated April 7, 2020, the DCC wrote California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot, “The Delta Counties Coalition (DCC) respectfully requests that you direct the Department of Water Resources (DWR) to pause all Delta Conveyance Project planning and engineering design processes that require Delta stakeholder engagement during the COVID-19 crisis, until the public can fully participate. We request that you ask the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority (DCA) to pause its processes that require public participation, including Stakeholder Engagement Committee meetings, so that the Delta tunnel engineering design can be informed by meaningful public input. We also ask that you direct DWR and other resource agencies to extend public comment periods by at least 45 days beyond the end of the declared emergency.” 2020-04-07-Delta Counties Coalition-Letter-to-Secty-Crowfoot-re-Stay

The Secretary Crowfoot and the Department of Water Resources has refused, but have instead allowed the DCA and SEC to hold their meetings online.

Upcoming Meetings

The next meeting of the 20-member DCA Stakeholder Engagement Committee will be held on Wednesday, July 22, 2020 from 3-6 PM. Topics are expected to include: Scoping Update (DWR), Rehabilitation of construction impacted land, Final temporary and permanent boundaries, and Intakes Update (*subject to change). Ring Central Video Conference. Information Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://meetings.ringcentral.com/j/1489140415;  iPhone one-tap: US: +1(916)2627278,,1489140415#; or Telephone: US: +1(623)4049000 Meeting ID: 148 914 0415.

Ways to Stay Informed

To stay informed of plans and progress on the Delta Conveyance Project visit https://water.ca.gov/Programs/State-Water-Project/Delta-Conveyance; Twitter @CA_DWR; email DeltaConveyance@water.ca.gov; or call the Project Hotline at 866.924.9955.

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New name. Same game: now labeled Delta Conveyance Project, the bypass tunnel diverting water south moves forward – Part 1 of 2

Friday, July 10th, 2020

Proposed Delta Conveyance Project Facility Corridor Options. From Scoping Summary Report.

This week’s DCP Environmental Planning Update includes:

  • Adoption of a Mitigated Negative Declaration and Approval of Soil Collection Activities
  • Announcement of Federal Environmental Review

Delta Conveyance Project Scoping Summary Report Now Available

By Allen Payton

Photo by Department of Water Resources.

What was planned as two tunnels beneath the California Delta to divert fresh water from north of the Delta to areas south including as far away as the Municipal Water District serving Los Angeles, is now a single tunnel plan that is referred to as the Delta Conveyance Project (DCP). The state previously referred to the two tunnel project as the WaterFix.

Although the state Department of Water Resources (DWR) rescinded all approvals of the WaterFix twin tunnel project last year, the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority continues engineering and geotechnical work on the single tunnel project under DWR’s supervision.

On May 2, 2019 the DWR announced it was taking formal steps to withdraw proposed permits for the WaterFix project and began a renewed environmental review and planning process for a smaller, single tunnel project that will protect a critical source of water supplies for California. Those actions implement Governor Gavin Newsom’s direction earlier in 2019, to modernize the state’s water delivery infrastructure by pursuing a smaller, single tunnel project through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The project will be designed to protect water supply reliability while limiting impacts on local Delta communities and fish. The actions also follow the governor’s executive order directing state agencies to develop a comprehensive statewide strategy to build a climate-resilient water system.

The purpose of the new DCP is “to develop new diversion and conveyance facilities in the Delta necessary to restore and protect the reliability of State Water Project (SWP) deliveries and, potentially, Central Valley Project (CVP) water deliveries south of the Delta, consistent with the State’s Water Resilience Portfolio [WRP].”

California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot describes it as “A smaller project, coordinated with a wide variety of actions to strengthen existing levee protections, protect Delta water quality, recharge depleted groundwater reserves, and strengthen local water supplies across the state” that “will build California’s water supply resilience.”

The tunnel will be drilled 150 feet underground.

No Participation by Contra Costa Water Agencies

So, the effort to move fresh Delta water south, continues. But none of the water agencies in Contra Costa County are part of the DCA. They all either oppose or have chosen to remain neutral on the proposed tunnel in the face of almost complete opposition by county residents.

Instead, Contra Costa County is part of the five-member Delta Counties Coalition, along with Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano and Yolo Counties all opposing the tunnel project.

However, there are four county residents who are members of the DCA’s Stakeholder Engagement Committee. Learn more about them, their opposition to the project and what they’re doing to limit and ensure the project mitigates any impact on county residents and businesses in Part 2 of this report.

The DCA participating state water contractors include the following agencies:

  • Alameda County Water District (At Large)
  • Alameda County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, Zone 7 (At Large)
  • Antelope Valley-East Kern Water Agency (At Large)
  • Coachella Valley Water District (At Large)
  • Metropolitan Water District of  Southern California (2 Permanent Seats)
  • Mojave Water Agency (At Large)
  • San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District (At Large)
  • San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency (At Large)
  • Santa Clara Valley Water District (Permanent Seat)

DCA officers serve two-year terms. The SWC At Large Director and Alternate Director represent all participating State Water Contractors without a permanent Board seat. Directors and Alternate Directors are determined by the participating State Water Contractors. In addition, the Joint Powers Agreement allocates a Board seat to Kern County Water Agency. This seat is currently unfilled as Kern County Water Agency has not joined the DCA

Photo by California Dep’t of Water Resources.

$11 Billion Price Tag Could Quadruple

According to Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta, “the $11 billion figure quoted for construction of the Delta Conveyance Project is dated and incomplete. The $11 billion figure is in 2018 dollars. In 2018, Metropolitan Water District claimed inflation for construction should be calculated at 5% interest annually. That puts the project over $12 billion today without all the mitigation measures discussed by the Design Construction Authority in stakeholder meetings with Delta community members. These externalized mitigation costs will be absorbed by taxpayers.

Before bond interest, and with externalized mitigation costs, inflation roughly would put construction costs closer to $20 billion. Bond interest generally speaking would double the cost to $40 billion. And if the state is going to make Delta communities whole and leave the Delta ‘better off’ than it is presently, additional billions of dollars would need to be spent.”

Impact on Antioch

For Antioch, which has pre-1914 rights to water and can take as much from the river as it needs, and has the lowest intake in the entire Delta, the result will be greater saltwater intrusion, as there will be less pressure from the fresh water flowing through the Delta. In response, the City of Antioch has approved the construction of a $60 million desalination plant. (See related article)

Latest Updates & Reports

This week, the DWR issued an update and scoping report on environmental planning for the single tunnel project.

DWR Adopts Mitigated Negative Declaration and Approves Soil Collection Activities

Today, Thursday, July 9, 2020, consistent with the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the Department of Water Resources (DWR) adopted the Final Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration (IS/MND) for soil investigations in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta). As part of the CEQA process, DWR also formally approved the action and adopted a Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Plan (MMRP). Soil investigations will include data collection, soil samples and surveys in support of DWR’s efforts to better understand the region’s geology to support the future evaluation of potential activities, including the proposed Delta Conveyance Project. As identified in the Final IS/MND, any potential significant impact will be avoided or otherwise mitigated with implementation of mitigation adopted as part of the project approval process. To access a copy of the Notice of Determination and Final IS/MND, which includes responses to comments and the adopted MMRP, visit the Delta Conveyance Environmental Planning page on DWR’s website.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement Under the National Environmental Policy Act

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has informed DWR that it will conduct federal environmental review of the proposed Delta Conveyance Project. USACE, which has regulatory authority over certain actions within specifically defined waters in the United States, will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Later this summer, USACE will issue a Notice of Intent officially announcing the start of preparation of the EIS. USACE’s letter to DWR can be found here.

The tunnel shaft will be drilled 150 feet below ground. From DCA SEC 2019-12-11-Delta Conveyance System Overview

Delta Conveyance Project Scoping Summary Report Now Available

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) has published a Scoping Summary Report for the proposed Delta Conveyance Project. This scoping report is a summary of the public scoping period that concluded in April. It includes all public comments received. The information collected during scoping will help inform the ongoing environmental analysis.
The scoping report includes: project overview, the purpose of scoping, a description of scoping activities, meetings, and notifications; a summary of public comments received and copies of all public comments received, including public scoping meeting transcripts.

The purpose of scoping is for DWR to gather feedback from the public and agencies on what to consider when preparing the proposed Delta Conveyance Project Environmental Impact Report. Specifically, DWR was seeking input on the range of project alternatives and potential environmental impacts to study further.

DWR will continue environmental review and analysis of the proposed Delta Conveyance Project, which is intended to maintain reliability of the state’s water system in the decades to come. For more information about the status of the environmental planning work, click here.

Upcoming Meetings

The next meeting of the Delta Conveyance Design & Construction Authority (DCA) Board of Directors will be held next Thursday, July 16 at 5:30 p.m. in the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria, 828 I Street in Sacramento (map). For details on watching and participating in the meeting online, click here.

Ways to Stay Informed

To stay informed of plans and progress on the Delta Conveyance Project visit https://water.ca.gov/Programs/State-Water-Project/Delta-Conveyance; Twitter @CA_DWR; email DeltaConveyance@water.ca.gov; or call the Project Hotline at 866.924.9955.

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Regional agencies seek input on the future of the Bay Area

Friday, July 10th, 2020

For transportation, housing, economy and environment for next three decades

Plan Bay Area 2050’s Draft Blueprint is available for public comment through August 10, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO, July 10, 2020 . . . The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) are inviting the Bay Area public to provide input on the newly released Plan Bay Area 2050 Draft Blueprint, a 30-year regional vision that seeks to create a more affordable, connected, diverse, healthy and vibrant Bay Area for all. The Draft Blueprint is being released today for a public comment period that will run through August 10, 2020.

Given the myriad challenges the COVID-19 pandemic poses to the Bay Area, MTC and ABAG will hold virtual workshops and telephone town halls through August 7, 2020. Both organizations want to hear from all Bay Area residents in order to incorporate diverse voices from across our region. Input received by the agencies will be used to further refine the Final Blueprint to create a more resilient and equitable Bay Area for future generations. The Final Blueprint is slated for approval in late 2020 and will be integrated into Plan Bay Area 2050 prior to its adoption in 2021.

The Plan Bay Area 2050 Draft Blueprint weaves together transportation, housing, economic and environmental strategies, alongside an expanded set of growth geographies, to advance critical climate and equity goals. Designed to accommodate the 1.5 million new homes necessary to house future growth and address overcrowding, as well as 1.4 million new jobs, the Draft Blueprint integrates critical strategies to address our severe and longstanding housing crisis. With infrastructure investments in walking, biking and public transportation – as well as sea level protections designed to keep most Bay Area communities from flooding through 2050 – the Draft Blueprint makes meaningful steps towards the adopted Plan Bay Area 2050 Vision.

Plan Bay Area 2050 is a joint initiative of MTC and ABAG. For more information on Plan Bay Area 2050 or to provide comments on the Draft Blueprint, visit: www.planbayarea.org. The entire list of public events can be found here: www.planbayarea.org/meetings-and-events/upcoming-public-events.

See previous plans here – Plan 2040  Plan Bay Area

MTC is the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. ABAG’s mission is to strengthen cooperation and collaboration across local governments to build healthier, stronger communities.

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Contra Costa Sheriff’s Marine Patrol searching for missing Delta boater since Friday night

Saturday, June 27th, 2020

Photos by CCCSheriff.

By Jimmy Lee, Director of Public Affairs, Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff

A marine search is continuing today in the Delta for a missing boater.

On Friday, June 26, 2020 at about 8:25 pm, the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff Marine Patrol Unit was dispatched to a report of a missing boater on Indian Slough in Discovery Bay.

It is not known how the boater, a 29-year-old man, went into the water. He is not being identified at this time. Occupants on the boat, who said that he never resurfaced, immediately searched for him.

Marine patrol deputies searched the water while Deputies checked the levee shoreline. A sonar search was also conducted. Sheriff’s Office STARR 3 helicopter did an aerial search. The missing boater was not located.

The investigation and search are continuing. Anyone with any information on this incident is asked to contact the Office of the Sheriff at (925) 646-2441.

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County’s Sustainability Committee considers declaring climate emergency in Contra Costa

Friday, May 29th, 2020

“that threatens the long-term economic and social well-being, health, safety, and security of the County” – proposed language from resolution.

Commission asked for input before making recommendation to full Board of Supervisors later this year.

By Allen Payton

During their meeting on Friday morning, May 29, 2020, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors’ Sustainability Committee, heard public input on the proposed Climate Emergency Resolution. Supervisor Federal Glover serves as committee Chair and Supervisor John Gioia, serves as Vice Chair.

“The committee didn’t actually vote on it,” said Jody London, Sustainability Coordinator for the county. “We received a lot of public comment on it. They wanted some modifications. There was argument that it wasn’t strong enough in some areas. The committee wasn’t in agreement with all the ideas but, we’re going to go back and work with the Sustainability Commission.”

“It’s a standing committee of the board that meets every other month,” she explained. “The commission, made up of members of the public appointed by the board, meets during the months in between. They usually happen at 5:00 p.m. on the fourth Monday of the month. It will be held online.”

The next meeting of the commission will be on June 23rd.

A revised resolution that includes input from the commission will return to the committee on July 27th, for final vote of recommendation to the full board, which can happen sometime in August or September depending on vacation schedules, London said.

According to the staff report, “On November 19, 2019, the Board of Supervisors (Board) received a proposal from the Contra Costa County Sustainability Commission that the Board adopt a Climate Emergency Resolution. The Board referred this item to the Sustainability Committee.
On December 9, 2019, the Sustainability Committee discussed options for structuring a climate emergency resolution. Supervisors expressed their opinion that resolutions have greater value when they identify tangible actions we can take. They cited to the recent State Executive Order N-19-19 on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating impacts of climate change in State government as an example. The Committee expressed interest in seeing the County take action on those issues where it can have the greatest impact. The Committee recognized that the County must balance priorities, it cannot invest in everything people might want at this time.

Community members offered many ideas for a climate emergency resolution. They stressed that this is an emergency and the County should provide bold leadership and action. Community members urged the Board include in any resolution deadlines or dates by which action can be expected. Community members expressed interest in the Board taxing the refineries located in Contra Costa County and determining how the County should plan for a situation where the refineries and other fossil-fuel based industries are not viable.

The Committee directed the Sustainability Coordinator to develop a draft climate emergency resolution in consultation with the Sustainability Commission and come back to the Committee.

The attached draft Climate Emergency Resolution was developed by staff, in consultation with the Sustainability Commission, which has discussed this at several meetings, most recently its February 24, 2020 meeting. The draft Resolution reflects the new realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. It recommends three actions:

  1. The County Department of Conservation and Development is directed to work with the County Administrator and other departments to establish an interdepartmental task force of Department heads, or their immediate deputies, that will focus on implementing the County’s Climate Action Plan and identifying additional actions, policies, and programs the County can undertake to reduce and adapt to the impacts of a changing climate.
  2. The County Sustainability Commission is directed to seek input from the community to help the County anticipate and plan for an economy that is less dependent on fossil fuel extraction and processing, helps plan for a transition from a fossil-fuel dependent economy, and considers how the County’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic can incorporate the County’s climate goals. As the State of California adopts policies and goals for reducing pollution and addressing climate change, the County will consider with the assistance of the Sustainabilty Commission what this will mean for County revenues, jobs, health, and infrastructure, including new opportunities and how frontline communities will realize economic and other benefits. The Commission will include this topic in its ongoing advice to the Board of Supervisors.
  3. Health, socio-economic, and racial equity considerations should be included in policymaking and climate solutions at all levels and across all sectors as the consequences of climate change have significant impacts on all County residents, but especially the young, the elderly, low-income or communities of color, and other vulnerable populations.”

The declaration portion of the draft resolution in its current form reads as follows:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Supervisors of the County of Contra Costa declares a climate emergency that threatens the long-term economic and social well-being, health, safety, and security of the County.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the County Department of Conservation and Development work with the County Administrator and other departments to establish an interdepartmental task force of Department heads, or their immediate deputies, that will focus on implementing the County’s Climate Action Plan and identifying additional actions, policies, and programs the County can undertake to reduce and adapt to the impacts of a changing climate.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the County Sustainability Commission seek input from the community to help the County anticipate and plan for an economy that is less dependent on fossil fuels, helps plan for a transition from a fossil-fuel dependent economy, and considers how the County’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic can incorporate the County’s climate goals. As the State of California adopts policies and goals for reducing pollution and addressing climate change, the County will consider with the assistance of the Sustainability Commission what this will mean for County revenues, jobs, health, and infrastructure including new opportunities and how frontline communities will realize economic and other benefits. The Commission will include this topic in its ongoing advice to the Board of Supervisors.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that health, socio-economic, and racial equity considerations should be included in policymaking and climate solutions at all levels and across all sectors as the consequences of climate change have significant impacts on all County residents, especially the young, the elderly, low-income or communities of color, and other vulnerable populations.

Read the entire draft resolution, here – 41815_DRAFT Climate Emergency Resolution

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Sheriff’s Marine Patrol continues search for Delta boater missing since Thursday morning

Friday, May 29th, 2020

Photo by CCCSheriff.

By Jimmy Lee, Director of Public Affairs, Contra Costa County, Office of the Sheriff

A search for a missing boater is continuing this morning by the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff Marine Patrol Unit.

On Thursday, May 28, 2020, at about 10:30 in the morning, the Sheriff’s Office received a report of a missing boater who had gone into the waters in the San Joaquin River, north of Webb Tract.

The Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office Marine Patrol Unit responded and were assisted by Solano County, Sacramento County, San Joaquin County and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Umut Felik, a 27-year-old man from San Francisco, was swimming when he apparently had trouble staying above the water. At one point he went underwater and did not resurface. His friends on a boat went into the water to search for him but were not able to find him. They reported the incident to the Sheriff’s Office.

A search of the area with a sonar was suspended at 8 PM. Felik was not located.

Anyone with any information on this incident to asked to contact the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office Marine Patrol Unit at (925) 427-8507.

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