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Bay Delta Conservation Plan

There has been an on-going controversy surrounding the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP). Since December 13, 2013, this plan has been under-going public scrutiny; alongside Governor Jerry Brown, who endorses it. The plan claims that the “BDCP would secure California’s water supply by building new water delivery infrastructure and operating the system to improve the ecological health of the Delta”, so as to transport water across the state.

The organizations that support this plan have been using propaganda tactics to scare the public into believing that the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) is California’s only hope. They claim that natural disasters such as earthquakes, climate change, and floods will affect the balance within the delta and cause saltwater intrusion. Ultimately, if this were to happen, it would lead to a disruption in the distribution of water to major water distributors and farmlands, especially in Southern California. While this is an environmental cause that calls for action, public observers are often mislead about the best way to handle this potential crisis.

The “water delivery infrastructure”, referred to in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), has come to be known as the I-70 Twin Tunnels. These tunnels would be approximately 40 feet in diameter and run 30 to 35 miles south of Sacramento. This project would cost taxpayers approximately $50 billion dollars to construct and maintain.

Some may say that this plan is necessary because Southern California has a larger need for water than its northern counterpart, but recent data shows that “water use has dropped 10 to 15 percent in the last few years alone”. According to the State Water Resource Control Board, it has also been shown that “about 40 to 50 percent of residential water use goes to outdoor irrigation” in Southern California.

This means that the water is not being used for health and sanitation purposes, and there are drought laws to limit this type of excess water use. For these reasons, it is common to hear Northern Californians saying that SoCal is “stealing our water”.

What Governor Brown and other supporters of this plan fail to realize is the overarching effect that this plan will have on the ecosystem, as well as the people of the area. With such a large human impact that is constantly imposed on the delta,  it is no surprise that that the delta’s unique and fragile ecosystem is depleting. The delta is home to approximately 700 plant and animal species that are specific to the local region. Businesses, such as fisheries depend on the Sacramento- San Joaquin delta estuary and this fragile system. As the extinction of this habitat becomes a reality, the local fisheries of the area will be abolished.

A majority of the water, that would be transported across the state, would in fact never see a residential area. Instead it would go to big businesses and wealthy landowners, that can afford to increase their water supply above the needs of the public. While agriculture is a main staple of California, is can be a contributing factor to the contamination of water quality, which is why localized farming is so important. Local farmers and agriculturalists are in an uproar that their water availability is being taken away from them.

It is important to become educated on the issues at hand. The UU Human Right to Water campaign promotes clean water being made available to everyone, not just those that can afford it. We as Unitarian Universalists know that we are all a part of the interdependent web of life, and that each action has a ripple effect on our world as a whole. This is why we cannot allow the delta to be contaminated, depleted, or abused as a part of a political agenda. This is why we must use the Fifth Principle “ The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large”, and let our voices and concerns be heard at the state level.

The time to make public comments is now! To learn more visit: http://www.stopthetunnels.org/faq/. Or if you’d like to get more involved, there will be a protest on the west steps of the capitol on July 29 at 11:30am, please visit: http://restorethedelta.org/ai1ec_event/no-delta-tunnels-rally-on-the-west-steps-of-the-capitol/ to get more information about the “ No Delta Tunnels Rally”. If you are not able to attend, but would like to get involved, make sure to sign this petition before July 29th: https://takeaction.takepart.com/actions/stop-the-bay-delta-twin-tunnels-project-and-protect-the-pristine-northern-california-watersheds?cmpid=action-share .

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