Big Challenges and a Huge Need for Leadership
Editor’s note: The controversial Bay Delta Conservation Plan is the recent subject of extensive attention and media coverage statewide. The views expressed in this article and its sidebars represent the authors’ opinions and not the policies or positions of the League.
Glen Becerra is outgoing president of the Southern California Association of Governments and a Simi Valley City Council member. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
California has great challenges to match its size. Among its longest-standing and most vital issues is water — specifically the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta that is the lynchpin of drinking water for most Californians.
The Delta provides drinking water for as many as 25 million California residents, including many in my home region of Southern California, and supports billions of dollars of economic activity, from farming to manufacturing and beyond.
The Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) was produced over seven years by a team of federal and state water experts, scientists and public water agencies working together to balance the needs of the environment with California’s human and economic needs.
To protect the Delta, the plan needs to move forward. I have been involved in many regional and statewide planning efforts, and few issues loom larger than the Delta in terms of our state’s safety and vitality.
California can’t afford for Delta levees to break, flooding thousands of acres of fertile agriculture land with salt water, damaging the ecosystem and wildlife as well as shutting down the water to the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California residents.
The BDCP will stabilize the Delta, secure our water supply and ensure that our residents, farmers and businesses have a reliable water source for the foreseeable future. The project will also create as many as 137,000 jobs over its 50-year life.
Why is this important now? The Delta has been stretched to the breaking point, and the water that many Californians depend upon is at risk. Environmental restrictions on water deliveries meant to protect Delta fish have also greatly reduced the flexibility to meet statewide water supply needs. The BDCP will improve the Delta ecosystem so that water operations will become more reliable and secure. The direct benefits to water users — reliable supplies, reduced regulatory and legal uncertainty, improved water quality and reduced seismic risk — make the plan well worth the cost.
The Southern California Water Committee has been educating business and local government leaders on this issue. I encourage you to visit www.socalwater.org/delta-disrupted and www.baydeltaconservationplan.com for more information.