That was the message Supervisor Mary Piepho brought to the Discovery Bay CSD Board last week as she updated the directors and public on myriad organizations and coalitions tracking the Delta’s critical issues.
“There are important and urgent things going on,” said Piepho, who serves as chair of the Delta Conservancy Board. “And how we track those issues is with a lot of local input that allows us to make policy at the local level and regional levels as well.”
Among some of the more significant good-news efforts on behalf of the Delta has been the halting of the controversial 2 Gates project, a plan that involves the installation of operable gates to control the flow of water at locations up and down the Delta.
“We pretty much have it off the table at this point,” said Piepho. “But for us locally, it’s still a very dangerous and big threat; it’s still lurking around a bit.”
Work in 2011 on the eradication of the egeria densa weed and water hyacinth in Discovery Bay and Bethel Island has been successful, said Piepho, and new legislation is in the works that would provide state funding for the elimination of the latest water pest – the South American spongeplant.
Other landmarks include the state’s acknowledgment of the striped bass as a native species – which saves it from possible eradication. And ongoing efforts to maintain state bond funds for levee repairs in the Delta continue to make headway.
“We have a lot of effort moving forward on levee repair, which is important to the overall health of the Delta,” said Piepho.
On the bad-news side of the table, however, is the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), which Piepho has referred to as “the peripheral canal of the 21st century.” The BDCP is touted as a conservation plan led by state and federal agencies and water districts in the Central Valley and Los Angeles, whose focus is the conservation of aquatic species as well as improving current water supplies and safeguarding the reliability of water supply delivery. But according to Piepho, the BDCP has refused the Delta counties – which stand to be most affected – a seat at the bargaining table.
“They want fresh water at the highest source in the Delta and they want it now,” said Piepho. “There is no protection; it is simply a water grab and we are going to be looked at to pay for it.”
The BDCP plan involves the construction of five intake locations, twin water diversion tunnels under the Delta stretching 37 miles from Clarksburg (near Elk Grove) to Clifton Court Forebay, with two large storage water facilities at either end.
“These are the risks we are facing,” said Piepho. “The bucolic, colorful, quiet and serene Delta, again with five (intake pumps) each about the size of an NFL field … picture what that is going to look like.”
And yet, said Piepho, there is plenty that can be done to halt the process, and much of it begins with the public: “We’re working hard and your input is very much valued. Our coalition is strong and we’re working hard but we need it to continue to grow … It’s an ongoing battle, a decades-old battle.
“They say it takes a village. Well, we’re all part of that village and we need to work on that together.”
The public is welcome to attend a strategic planning meeting of the Delta Conservancy on Saturday, April 14 from 10 a.m. to noon at the City Council chambers in Oakley.