On Friday, 13 December 2013, some 500 people attended a rally at the State Capitol protesting the Bay Delta Conservation Plan as the comment period for the BDCP and environmental documents began. Californians for a Fair Water Policy, a statewide coalition opposing Gov. Brown’s massive water export tunnels, organized the rally.
The Plan and accompanying environmental review documents comprise 40,123 pages, which is 20% more pages than the 32 volumes of the last printed edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. As the comment period extends for 85 working days, the public is apparently expected to review and comment on 472 pages each working day.
Tunnel opponents pointed out “fatal flaws” of the tunnels they said would be too costly, create no new water and do nothing to increase regional water self-reliance. Speakers identified many impacts from the tunnels that would damage water quality, harm the environment, destroy fisheries and sustainable farming, and impose billions of dollars of increases on water ratepayers. Two-thirds of the water would go to huge corporate agribusiness operations on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, engaged in unsustainable agriculture, growing permanent crops on arid land. The opponents assailed the failure to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the proposal, in addition to the lack of a finance plan, and said the costs would fall on water ratepayers to subsidize unsustainable mega-growers.
Speakers included Bill Jennings, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance; Conner Everts, Southern California Watershed Alliance; Alex Aliferis, Contra Costa County Taxpayers Association; Nick di Croce, Environmental Water Caucus; Jonas Minton, Planning and Conservation League; Zeke Grader, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations; Supervisor Don Nottoli, Sacramento County; Bob Wright, Friends of the River; Russell van Löben Sels, Five Delta Counties Farm Bureau Caucus; Grace Marvin, Butte Environmental Council; Jim Cox, Calif. Striped Bass Association; Jack Sanchez, Save Auburn Ravine Salmon and Steelhead (SARSAS); Osha Meserve, Stone Lakes Wildlife refuge; Bill Wells, Calif. Delta Chambers of Commerce; Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta; Caleen Sisk, Chief of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe; Jessica Lopez, Chair of the Concow Maidu Tribe and Johnny Bob, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Western Shoshone.