Archive for the ‘Delta & Environment’ Category

Delta Conveyance aka tunnel Project Community Benefits Program Workshop 1 of 3 April 14

Monday, April 12th, 2021

Opportunity for neighboring community members to offer input of what they want from the impacts of the project

If you live or work in the Delta, we’d like to invite you to join an online workshop to provide feedback to the Department of Water Resources about the Community Benefits Program of the Delta Conveyance (tunnel) Project. On April 14, between 6:00 and 8:00 pm, Ag Innovations will facilitate a large online workshop to gather feedback from Delta residents on the Department of Water Resources (DWR), Community Benefits program.

To Register for the April 14 Workshop email DeltaConveyanceCBP@water.ca.gov
Click Here for more information.

However, as of Monday, April 12, the day the Herald received the notification of the meeting on the 14th, registrations are closed. If you would still like to participate, please email us at DeltaConveyanceCBP@water.ca.gov. If you cannot participate in the workshop, but would like to provide input, please email us at DeltaConveyanceCBP@water.ca.gov. A recording of each workshop will be posted, along with the background material, at https://water.ca.gov/Programs/State-Water-Project/Delta-Conveyance/Community-Benefits-Program

About the workshop: DWR is developing a community benefits program to acknowledge that if the Delta Conveyance project is approved it could have potential adverse effects on communities through construction of major capital projects. The Community Benefits program could create economic, social, and other benefits in the local community. A Community Benefits Program could go beyond what traditional “environmental mitigation” typically affords.

Why participate: While people oppose the Delta Conveyance Project, DWR has no expectation that participating in the workshops signals any support for the Delta Conveyance Project. The community benefits program would only proceed if the project were approved. But participating now provides community members a chance to shape the program to best suit the needs of the local community.

Ag Innovations is a 501c3 nonprofit and is committed to reaching out to underrepresented voices and creating meaningful opportunities to provide input, including at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic makes this challenging.  Please let us know if you have ideas for how we might work with you to bring your input into this process.

Stay tuned for additional workshops on the Community Benefits Program future workshops will be on:

Thursday, May 6, 2021 | 6:00pm – 8:00pm.

CLICK HERE to REGISTER

Tuesday, May 25, 2021 | 6:00pm – 8:00pm.

CLICK HERE to REGISTER

From Scoping Summary Report.

What is the Delta Conveyance Project?

The state is studying the potential impacts and benefits of two possible routes for a tunnel in the Delta, labeled the Delta Conveyance Project. The proposal aims to protect the reliability of the State Water Project to deliver clean water to homes, farms, and businesses in the Bay Area, Central Coast, and Southern California.

The project would catch fresh water in the northern Delta – especially during storms – through two new intakes near the town of Hood. A deep underground tunnel would carry that water 40 miles to the southern Delta where it would be pumped into the State Water Project. The project would be constructed over approximately 16 years.

DWR is currently studying potential impacts on traffic, noise, air quality, and historical, cultural, recreational, and other resources.

They have launched the Environmental Justice Community Survey to better understand how the project may affect the resources, values, and priorities that are most important you.

(See related articles here and here)

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Dredging up the past at Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge

Thursday, December 31st, 2020

Sand and water dredged from the San Joaquin River are pumped onto Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge in October. The water will return to the river through outfall pipes, leaving the sand behind. Credit: Mark Hayes/USFWS

Sand from the Port of Stockton is restoring a unique refuge

By Brandon Honig, External Affairs Specialist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Over thousands of years, the shifting sands of time built dunes that reached 120 feet high and stretched for two miles along the San Joaquin River, about 35 miles east of San Francisco. Isolated from similar habitats, the Antioch Dunes slowly developed species found nowhere else in the world.

The gradual shifting of sand, however, was replaced by a rapid effort to turn it into bricks in 1906, after a devastating earthquake and fires demolished buildings in San Francisco. As industry depleted the sand over the next 70 years, the dunes’ unique species struggled to survive on dunes that eventually topped out at 50 feet.

Now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFW) and Port of Stockton are trying to turn back the clock, one load of sand at a time. Since 2013, the Port has pumped nearly 92,000 cubic yards of sand — enough to fill more than 6,500 dump trucks — onto the dunes to support three endangered species: the Lange’s metalmark butterfly, Antioch Dunes evening primrose and Contra Costa wallflower.

There may be fewer than 50 Lange’s metalmark butterflies remaining today, down from an estimated 25,000 between 50 and 100 years ago. The butterfly is only found at Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: Steve Martarano/USFWS

“The population of Lange’s has been trending downward for a couple of decades now,” said Mark Hayes, a biologist with the Service’s San Francisco Bay-Delta Office. “We counted about 10 butterflies in 2020, and the total population is very likely less than 50 currently. This is precariously low.”

The orange, black and white butterfly with a wingspan of 1 to 1.5 inches, whose population likely numbered 25,000 less than a century ago, was listed as endangered in 1976. The white-petaled primrose and yellow-petaled wallflower followed with listings in 1978.

The Service established Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge for the three species in 1980, making it the first national refuge for insects and plants. At the time, the 55-acre urban refuge with two non-adjacent units was also the nation’s smallest.

Wildlife resource specialist Louis Terrazas inspects sand placed on Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge through a partnership with the Port of Stockton. The landscape to the right shows refuge land that has not yet been restored with sand. Credit: Brandon Honig/USFWS

“This is a very industrial neighborhood we’re tucked into,” Louis Terrazas, a wildlife resource specialist for the refuge, said of Antioch Dunes. “There’s a shipyard on one side, a gypsum-processing plant, an old water-treatment facility over there and two strips of land owned by Pacific Gas and Electric.”

As sand disappeared in the 20th century, non-native grasses and plants took hold, crowding out the primrose, the wallflower and the Antioch Dunes buckwheat, which is the only plant where the Lange’s butterfly will lay its eggs. In the early 2000s, a series of wildfires further cut the butterfly population, leaving only about 100 alive in 2010 — all on the refuge’s 14-acre eastern unit.

With no butterflies to protect on the western unit, the Service decided to overhaul that site and try to restore the conditions that had once enabled the dunes’ endangered species to thrive. Refuge staff began looking for sources of sand in 2012 and were soon contacted by the Port of Stockton.

Beachgoers lounge on an Antioch, California, sand dune in the early 1900s, before much of the sand was mined for building materials. Credit: Contra Costa County Historical Society

The Army Corps of Engineers dredges sand from the San Joaquin River each year to clear passage for cargo ships, and the Port is responsible for finding sites to place the sand. The Port typically sent sand to nearby Sherman Island, but saw an opportunity to make a real impact at Antioch Dunes.

“Our board has been pushing us to reach out and find projects like this — ways we can go above and beyond the normal regulations to try to have a beneficial impact on the [Sacramento-San Joaquin River] Delta,” said Jeff Wingfield, the Port of Stockton’s director of environmental and public affairs. “It costs us a little extra in time and prepping the site and some other little work, but for us it’s important to beneficially reuse the material.”

Since the Port’s first delivery in 2013, the evening primrose has experienced a huge jump in numbers, Terrazas said, and the wallflower and buckwheat are also reappearing. Eventually the refuge hopes to re-establish the Lange’s butterfly on the western unit as well.

The Contra Costa Wallflower, right, and Antioch Dunes evening primrose live side by side at Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, the only national refuge established to protect plants and insects. Credit: Susan Euing/USFWS

To fully restore the refuge’s dune system, the Service could continue taking sand deposits for a couple of decades, Terrazas said, which might not be possible without the Port partnership.

“We bought some sand from another site in 2009, but it was really expensive, and the sand material had some non-native species in it,” he said. “We decided it was not the best method of restoring the site.”

The endangered Antioch Dunes evening primrose has shown a huge jump in numbers since dune-restoration began in 2013. Credit: Steve Martarano/USFWS

Under the current method, the Port provides and delivers clean sand, and it doesn’t cost the Service a dollar. USFW staff devotes a great deal of time to this project, but the sand itself and the labor to place it at the Antioch Dunes are donated.

“Restoring the dunes is vitally important to the refuge’s ecosystem and could be the key to long-term preservation of its endangered species,” Hayes said. “We value our partnership with the Port and hope this continues as we implement our restoration plan.”

 

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Antioch City Council approves contract for Brackish Water Desalination Plant, rejects bid protest

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

Map of current and proposed pipelines for the Brackish Water Desalination Project in Antioch. Source: City of Antioch

By Anthony Dorado

The Antioch City Council convened for a special meeting on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020 to vote on whether or not to approve the agreement with Shimmick Construction Co. and reject the bid protest from Overaa Construction Co. The council unanimously voted to approve the contract and resulting budget changes.

The city council voted to increase the total budget for the Brackish Water Desalination Plant to $110,000,000. The contract with Shimmick would amount to $91,023,450, which includes $86,689,000 for the base, plus a five percent contingency of $4,334,450. The 29-year-old company has experience in building 49 water resource projects ranging in budget from $2.7 million to $1.2 billion, ranking as one of the top companies in the U.S. for water and wastewater treatment, and dam construction.

Councilmember Lori Ogorchock expressed her own concerns and those of residents that the plant will result in tangible rate hikes. City Manager Ron Bernal ensured the council that this would not result in any rate hikes. He also stated that this would not cause any unforeseen costs in the future.

Funding for the project includes a Cal Department of Water Resources Desalination Grant of $10 million, a State Water Resources Control Board Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund award of $56 million, California Department of Water Resources Settlement Agreement funds in the amount of $27 million, and City of Antioch Water Enterprise Funds of $17 million. Bernal expressed pride in the project explaining how it will stabilize water rates and allow the city a greater consistency of water intake year-round, regardless of rising salinity levels.

Mayor Thorpe expressed hope that this project would prepare the City of Antioch to meet the coming challenges of climate change. However, the main problem is the saltwater intrusion into the Delta due to the movement of fresh water south, since Antioch’s intake is at the lowest elevation in the Delta. That will worsen with the construction of the Delta bypass tunnel, known as the Delta conveyance. (See related articles, here and here.)

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Antioch residents asked to take Delta tunnel Environmental Justice Community Survey by Friday, Dec. 11

Tuesday, December 8th, 2020

The Environmental Justice Community Survey launched by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) closes this Friday, December 11th. The survey takes just a few minutes and is intended to gather perspectives from community members who live or work in the Stockton, Sacramento, and Antioch region and the small towns in between. Your input is crucial to identifying the potential impacts and benefits of the proposed Delta tunnel known as the Conveyance Project.

Don’t wait – if you haven’t already, take the survey today – and share with others in the Delta region!

Click here to TAKE THE SURVEY TODAY!

About the Survey

Through the “Your Delta, Your Voice” survey, DWR is specifically aiming to engage those who live or work in the Delta region and are often not adequately represented in public processes by seeking direct input from low income residents and workers, people of color, limited English speakers, Tribal members and other underrepresented communities.

They survey has two primary goals. One is to accurately reflect how the members of a variety of Delta communities value the region’s cultural, recreational and natural resources, through a series of questions and a map that allows people to identify places that are special to them. The other is to seek input about ways the project may cause impacts to these resources or potentially bring benefits to Delta communities.

Spread the Word

Please help spread the word about the survey by forwarding this email to those in your network so the voices of the Delta’s diverse communities can be heard.

You can also share the survey on social media using the following links:

   Share on Facebook:  English  |  Español  |  中文
   Share on Twitter:  English  |  Español  |  中文

 

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Supervisors declare climate emergency on 5-0 vote, county’s COVID-19 status improving

Thursday, September 24th, 2020

County COVID-19 Ranking Expected to Improve to Red Next Week

County to Mail More than 700,000 Ballots for Nov. 3 Election

By Daniel Borsuk

For a county with five major petroleum refineries, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors took a major step in addressing climate change by adopting a three-page climate emergency declaration. 43116_BO_ADOPT Climate Emergency Resolution

About 30 people supported the resolution’s nine items dealing with the global environmental issue during the supervisors’ tele-conferenced Board meeting on Tuesday.  Supervisors also received a positive COVID-19 report from Contra Costa County Public Health Department officials and a report on the Nov. 3 California General and National Election from Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder Deborah Cooper.

Upon adopting the climate change resolution, supervisors positioned the county in support of the State of California’s goals to cut greenhouse gases by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, achieve net carbon neutrality by 2045, and provide 100 percent of the State’s electricity from clean energy sources by 2045.

The Board’s action also forms an interdepartmental task force of all county department heads or senior deputies that will focus on “urgently implementing the County’s Climate Action Plan – as currently adopted ….and identifying additional actions, policies, and programs the county will undertakes to reduce and adapt to the impacts of a changing climate.  This task force should report to the Board of Supervisors through the County Sustainability Commission and the Board’s Sustainability Committee on a semi-annual basis starting in March 2021.  Reports to the Board of Supervisors shall be discussion items for the Board.”

The resolution states that “Contra Costa County should develop policies to require all new construction to be fully electric through the adoption of Reach Building Codes.”

“Contra Costa County will prioritize the implementation of its Climate Action Plan in order to achieve greenhouse gas reductions as soon as possible and will consider equity and social justice issues in the implementation of the plan,” the Board’s resolution states.

In addition, the resolution states: “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.”

Initially it appeared Board Chair Candace Andersen, who says she drives a hybrid car, was leaning to cast a “no” vote on the resolution, but after listening to about 30 speakers mostly in support of the resolution, the  Danville-based Supervisor voted in support of the resolution.  The Supervisor said she had an issue about the urgency of the state shifting from a fossil fueled based economy to an electric powered based economy that would potentially be more energy efficient and less environmentally harmful.

Jackie Garcia, a Lafayette-based builder, asked Supervisors to pass the resolution because “People want energy-efficient houses. People don’t use gas stoves anymore.  They use energy efficient electric stoves.”

“This resolution requires immediate action,” said Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill who also serves on the commission of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. “I will support this resolution.”

Incoming Board Chair for 2021 Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood, who said she has worked on environmental issues, especially related to water, said “I will support this resolution because it will directly affect our future way of life in Contra Costa County.”

Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg, who was elected to serve as Vice Chair for 2021 by his colleagues provided he is reelected in November’s election against County Assessor Gus Kramer, said “This is a good first step. It gives people notice.”

In passing the resolution that more than 1,000 other California cities, counties and regional governmental agencies have done before Tuesday’s supervisors’ meeting, the Contra Costa resolution “declares a climate emergency that threatens the long-term economic and social well-being, health, safety,  and security of the County, and that urgent action by all levels of government is needed to immediately address this climate emergency.”

“Real Good News” on the COVID-19 Front

Contra Costa County Public Health Department Director Anna Roth informed supervisors there is “real good news” concerning COVID-19.  She expects the state to announce perhaps on Sept. 29 that the county’s COVID-19 status will be upgraded from purple to red.

The color change will mean the county will probably be allowed to open more businesses that have been shuttered since the public health shutdown order went into effect in March.

Roth expects some K-12 schools, as many as 35, could reopen for students with proper health protocols in place.  Roth said Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey will oversee the reopening of the schools.

Roth reported there have been 15,156 COVID-19 patients in the County since the outbreak of the flu in March.  There have been 202 deaths in the county since March.  In the past 24 hours there were 52 COVID-19 patients reported in the county hospital and no deaths have been reported, she said. “Our County death rate is less than the national average,” she said.

In a push to increase the number of people who are tested for COVID-19, Contra Costa County Public Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano said about 330,000 residents have been tested.  “That’s still not enough,” said Dr. Farnitano, who said the County will open a drive-up test site at the Bay Point Health Center in October.

Dr. Farnitano said the county will start to give free flu shots at the County’s Antioch, Concord, Richmond and San Ramon drive up sites. “Vaccination is important because it is difficult to tell the difference between the flu and COVID,” he said.

More Than 700,000 Ballots Expected for Nov. 2 Election

The Contra Costa County Office of Elections expects to mail more than 700,000 ballots to registered voters for the Nov. 3 election, up from 687,000 ballots mailed last November to registered voters, said Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder and Registrar of Voters Deborah Cooper.

“We encourage people to stay safe and vote by mail,” said Cooper.  There will also be 37 ballot drop boxes around the County so voters can drop off ballots 24/7 from Oct. 5 through Nov. 3.  Official ballots will be mailed to voters on Oct. 5, but if a registered voter has not received a ballot by Oct.  19 they should contact the Elections Office, (925) 335-7800.

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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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