Washington, DC – Five Northern California Members of Congress are demanding answers on the current state of the Bay-Delta planning process and calling on the Interior Department today to rescind a “flawed” Memorandum of Agreement that was developed behind closed doors and that gives water export agencies south of the Delta and in Southern California unprecedented influence over an important public process concerning California’s precious fresh water supplies.
U.S. Reps. George Miller (CA-7), Mike Thompson (CA-1), Doris Matsui (CA-5), Jerry McNerney (CA-11) and John Garamendi (CA-10) wrote today to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar asking that the recent agreement between the Department and water agencies be rescinded and that the process be opened up to include other key stakeholders left out of the discussions, including Bay Area, Delta and coastal communities, farmers, businesses, and fishermen.
Excerpt: “Interior should immediately rescind this flawed MOA and work instead to establish a successful BDCP process that is transparent and based on parity, and that genuinely puts the restoration of the Bay-Delta and its fisheries, the needs of local communities, and the quality of local water resources on par with other water supply goals.”
The lawmakers recently held a series of meetings with Interior Department and California officials to express their concerns about the Memorandum of Agreement that the Department signed with water export agencies, an agreement that was developed and signed without input from Bay-Delta stakeholders. The Department had previously told the lawmakers to expect an answer to their inquiries early last week, but failed to meet that deadline. Today’s letter from the lawmakers requests a written response from Secretary Salazar by the beginning of next week.
Excerpt: “the BDCP planning process has failed to treat these affected groups in a fair and transparent manner, and we do not believe that the emerging plan is reflecting Bay-Delta constituencies’ concerns and interests.
The members wrote that the process as it currently stands has established an unrealistic timeline for the completion of the plan, and that it raises expectations of favorable outcomes for the water agencies that signed it. These concerns – along with others that the lawmakers raised in their meetings – share several traits:
Excerpt: “They have the potential to harm the Bay-Delta, fishing communities, local farmers, and our constituents more broadly. They compromise Interior’s ability to exercise its mandates to restore the Bay-Delta ecosystem and California’s fisheries, and to consider the interests of all stakeholder groups. And they were developed in closed-door negotiations with the water export contractors that excluded all other interests.”
A pdf version of the letter can be found here.
Amy Peake (Miller) 202-225-2095
Austin Vevurka (Thompson) 202-225-3311
Mara Lee (Matsui) 202-225-7163
Lauren Smith (McNerney) 202-225-1947
Donald Lathbury (Garamendi) 202-570-3178