The BDCP: a failure of state institutions

Depending on the level of detail, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan and its twin tunnels adjunct can be dizzingly complex. In today’s SacBee, however, two enviros contribute a remarkably lucid Op-Ed piece.

“The proposed BDCP ignores the overwhelming scientific evidence that we must increase the amount of water flowing through the Delta to restore it to health, and instead focuses on siphoning away even more river water than the 50 percent on average we already divert,” write representatives from the Natural Resources Defense Council and Defenders of Wildlife.

“This approach would worsen the health of the Bay-Delta and California’s declining fish and wildlife. The state’s own analysis shows that the plan likely would lead to the extinction of several native salmon runs … Also, the BDCP is based on a risky and scientifically unproven assumption that man-made tidal marshes would compensate for taking more fresh water out of the Delta, an assumption that has been debunked by numerous independent scientific reviews …

“In its zeal to justify taking more and more water out of the Delta, the state Department of Water Resources – at the behest of several large water wholesalers in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California – has lost sight of the bigger picture and ignored the need for long-term solutions that work within real fiscal and environmental limits, solutions that offer far better alternatives to improve California’s water future.”

There is the rotten core of the BDCP: a Department of Water Resources numb to its broader public responsibilities. Not to mention environmental reality, as faced by “the state’s own analysis.” How else to characterize a public water agency that could preside over the extinction of salmon runs?

The tragedy is this isn’t the “Cadillac Desert” era of the early 20th century. We know better. But if we follow the BDCP’s path, we’ll end up with the same destructive outcomes the dam-builders and river-killers achieved in their ecological ignorance.

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    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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