Patrick Johnston was in an interesting spot Monday night.
Speaking before many of his own friends and acquaintances, the longtime Stockton resident and member of the Delta Stewardship Council defended a new plan for the estuary — a plan that doesn’t get a lot of love around here.
Johnston spoke before the Campaign for Common Ground, a grassroots slow-growth organization with which Johnston himself has been affiliated in the past.
CCG doesn’t typically dive into Delta stuff, but as many people know by now, the council’s plan does include provisions about land use which are of concern to cities and counties.
Actually, there was relatively little land-use discussion on Monday. Most of the meeting was spent attempting to get laypersons up to speed on stuff only water wonks would recognize – like the Matroyshka doll relationship of the Delta Plan and the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.
No news broken, but here are some of the statements made by Johnston:
On the fact that the Delta Plan lacks specific projects, pending BDCP’s completion: “My view is I’m glad they (BDCP) didn’t finish in time. I think it’s better we go through this process of a planning document that has no specific projects in it, so we can argue about the principles of what we want to do.”
On water exports from the Delta: “It’s understandable why people would come to a simple view that we should stop sending our water south but the fact is the water is the people of California’s. The fact is we have to figure out how to better share it.”
On the possibility of BDCP’s peripheral canal or tunnel being included in the Delta Plan: “One thing my colleagues and I are careful about is offering opinions or making judgments about what is going on in their (BDCP) planning…. What we’re not going to do is prejudge the work that they’re doing and I think it’s a good idea if the rest of you judge it as you see it, challenge it… But we’re not going to get involved in what kind of conveyance system if any is going to be added to the current system.”
On flow standards for the Delta: “The most controversial thing in the (Delta) Plan is reinforcing flow standards that the Delta should have more natural flow. Many interests in the state would prefer we not place that emphasis there.”
On the Delta’s “coequal” goals of water supply reliability and ecosystem restoration: “It’s clear we’re supposed to balance these two goals. We’ve had people come and say, ‘That’s a contradiction in terms. You can’t protect the Delta and ship water.’” But we don’t have the ability to minimize one goal. We have a charge to look at both simultaneously.”
On the Delta’s political alliance: “San Joaquin County and the Delta area itself are, in voting power, smaller than the Bay Area or Southern California. You throw in together, but you actually have different priorities… your goals aren’t really all the same.”
On the likelihood of litigation: We’re going to write this report and we’re going to get sued.”