California Governor Newsom adds North State Delta Hearing, but tribal communities worry he will continue to side with water brokers and Trump on water
Save California Salmon
Less than two weeks after rural North State residents, Tribal members, and members of the Hoopa High School water protector club traveled to Sacramento to ask the state of California to schedule meetings in Northern California on the Governor’s proposed Delta Conveyance Project, the state has agreed to a hearing in Redding California.
The hearing will occur on March 2 at 6 p.m. at the Sheraton Redding Hotel, at the 820 Sundial Bridge Drive. This decision was announced on the eve of the Trump administration announcement that the president will be coming to California to talk about water.
Many fear Trump will announce a decision to approve his highly controversial Central Valley Water Plan on this visit. Governor Newsom had announced he would litigate this plan, which would divert up to 22% more water from the Bay Delta and California’s rivers, but later backed down on his promise.
The Hoopa High School Water Protectors Club and other North state residents that depend on salmon are encouraging people to come out to the hearing they fought for.
“Why is it important for people to come out and help stop the projects threatening our rivers? It is because these rivers are our future.” said Kylee Sorrel.
Kylee recently testified at a Sites Reservoir hearing that Hoopa and California residents depend on clean water from the Trinity River for their culture, food and drinking water.
Margo Robbins, Yurok Tribal member and facility advisor to the Water Protector’s Club shares this concern. “The salmon cannot sustain any more water being taken from the Trinity River. We must put an end to these new diversion projects,” she said.
Northern California fisheries dependent communities worry that the Governor is just throwing them a bone, and will continue to side with the Trump administration and powerful water brokers like the Westlands Water District on water issues. They say that the fact that the Delta Tunnel hearings started even before the comment period ended on the governor’s water portfolio, and the fact the governor has announced he will support voluntary flow agreements, rather that flow regulation, demonstrates that the governor needs to take more public feedback before moving forward on large, environmentally damaging water projects.
“The Governor’s water portfolio, Sites Reservoir plan, and Delta Tunnel proposal all threaten the Trinity, Klamath, and Sacramento rivers, along with coastal economies and will cost billions, but the state is ignoring the rural communities in North State in their planning.” stated Regina Chichizola from Save California Salmon. “All Californians will pay for these projects to dewater our rivers and most Californians do not want these projects. It appears that the Governor is more like Trump than we thought. His water policy seems to benefit the 1%.”
This January, California Governor Gavin Newsom released his highly anticipated Water Resilience Portfolio. To the disappointment of Tribes and fishermen, the portfolio prioritized the three most controversial and environmentally impactful threats to California’s rivers — the Delta Tunnel project, the Sites reservoir project, and voluntary agreements in lieu of new state instream flow criteria.
Critics say that all of these proposals endanger the North State and North Coast’s water quality and fisheries, and thus the economy, health, and food security of Northern California’s people. The governor’s projects seem to be in line with the Trump administration's environmental rollbacks and plans to divert more of California’s water. Fisheries agencies have warned of potentially devastating fisheries impacts from all these new, and increased diversions.
The projects are also expensive even though public benefits seem unlikely. The state has already allocated $817 million out for the Sites Reservoir Project with $40 million provided up front and Estimates for the Twin Tunnels came in at $17 billion, which led many water users, especially in cities, to say they would not pay for it.
“Why should cities want to pay for the tunnel project and Sites Reservoir? Californians are doing their part and saving water and diversifying supplies, these projects mainly benefit large scale agricultural corporations and water brokers,” concluded Chichizola.