FAIRFIELD — Plenty of people visited the Hilton Garden Inn on Tuesday evening to get a close-up look at the Bay Delta Conservation Plan and its projected effects on the Delta and the surrounding area.
A four-hour open house gave the public a chance to see the plan and its draft environmental impact report and to make official comments on the report. People were able to visit various stations and visit with experts on each part of the environmental report as well as the plan as a whole.
Proponents of the plan and its main feature, two massive 30-mile tunnels – present it as a way to channel water to Southern California without affecting endangered species in the Delta region, such as the Delta smelt.
Maps showing proposed routes of the tunnels attracted quite a bit of attention as residents and public figures, including two county supervisors, asked questions and spoke to the presenters.
Several different agencies were also represented.
The Bay Delta Conservation Plan will have to go though the state Department of Water Resources, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Fisheries Service.
“We’re in the middle of the public comment period on the environmental documents so we are looking for people to learn about them, understand what the project is all about and if they have comments, give those to us,” said Paul Helliker, deputy director of Delta and Statewide Water Management. “We have experts here on pretty much every topic that’s in the EIR as well as the plan itself.”
The more than two dozen environmental impact report stations touched on topics that included water supply, air quality, climate change, ground water, fish and aquatic resources, geology and transportation.
A pair of court reporters were on hand to take verbal public comments and cards were available for written comments.
Not everyone present was a fan of the plan.
Brandon Minto, deputy district director for Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, manned a table in front of the hotel, offering copies of Garamendi’s alternative water plan.
“We believe the Bay Delta Conservation Plan is incredibly expensive, destructive and an essentially ineffective plan to address California’s water problem,” Minto said. “We fully recognize that there is a problem and it’s really a problem of supply and demand. Our thirst or our demand for water exceeds our supply.”
He said Garamendi’s plan offers more cost-effective alternatives to the $24 billion Bay Delta Conservation Plan.
“Through conservation, recycling, storage, he essentially offers forth a plan that would reduce demand and increase supply, while at the same time limiting the impact to Northern California and the Delta communities by trying to utilize existing infrastructure,” Minto said.
Reach Mike Corpos at 427-6979 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mcorposdr.