SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY — Starting next week, San Joaquin Delta College will join Verizon Innovative Learning, the education initiative of the Verizon Foundation, to introduce more girls, especially those in rural parts of the country, to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills.
Launched in partnership with the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE), the 2-year program was piloted last summer at five community colleges and will expand to 16 community colleges, engaging over 1,500 students.
Kicking off today, Monday July 9th with a three-week intensive learning experience, about 100 girls from middle schools across Stockton will come to Delta for courses in augmented and virtual reality, coding, 3D design, entrepreneurship and design thinking principles. Following the summer, the students will participate in monthly sessions throughout the academic year where they will develop a technology solution for a community problem that aligns with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Focus areas of the SDGs include poverty reduction, quality education, good health and well-being, climate action, peace and justice or gender equality.
“Our acceptance into Verizon Innovative Learning will help us and our partner, the Verizon Foundation, benefit many young girls in our community by providing them with insight and tools for their future in the digital world,” said Delta College Superintendent/President Kathy Hart.
Women continue to be underrepresented in STEM careers, where a staggering 86 percent of engineers and 74 percent of computer professionals are men. The percentage of women in STEM careers has not improved since 2001, specifically within the engineering (12 percent) and computing (26 percent) work forces. As a member organization of more than 300 community colleges across the country, NACCE is dedicated to supporting job creation and entrepreneurs in local communities.
Verizon Innovative Learning gives free technology, free access and innovative curricula to students impacted by the digital divide to help them realize a brighter future. To date, Verizon has invested $200 million in this initiative and has reached more than one million students. Learn more at http://www.VerizonInnovativeLearning.com.
Volunteers would work with students on field trips to Durham Ferry Outdoor Education Center
The Durham Ferry Outdoor Education Center is looking for volunteers passionate about nature who would like to share their love of the outdoors on field trips for elementary school students.
The Durham Ferry Outdoor Education Center is part of San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) STEM Programs. San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) provides educational leadership, resources, and services to support schools throughout the county. With its highly regarded programs, innovative staff, and community partnerships, SJCOE ensures that every student in San Joaquin County has the opportunity of a quality education. For more information, visit www.sjcoe.org.
Durham Ferry volunteers will run hands-on learning stations during field trips for third- through fifth-grade students. No background in education or science is required. Training will be provided, and the time commitment is flexible. Volunteers will be required to work outside and be able to walk on uneven surfaces.
Located along a bend in the San Joaquin River about 7 miles south of Manteca, the Durham Ferry Outdoor Education Center offers field trips that provide student-centered, inquiry-based outdoor education for students to inspire lifelong curiosity and wonder of the natural world To learn more about Durham Ferry, please go to http://bit.ly/DurhamFerryOutdoorEd.
To learn more about becoming a volunteer, please contact Kristine Stepping at (209) 468-4880 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stockton, CA — “…Bless the workers and bless those who are in power…” said Stephen Blair, Bishop Dioceses of Stockton as he blessed the field workers and working families. The blessing was during the Cesar Chavez Prayer breakfast during the morning of March 26, 2016.
Annually the Mexican Heritage Center and Gallery hosts a breakfast in observance of “Cesar Chavez’ birthday and to honor the hard work of field workers with a prayer,” explained Gracie Madrid, President of the Mexican Heritage Center and Gallery (MHC&G); adding, “often young people think of Cesar Chavez as the boxer, not the civil rights activist who built a movement for field worker rights.”
“My parents wanted us to live here [In the U.S.] because they wanted a better future for us…” Explained Roberto Valdes Sanchez artist exhibiting at MHC&G, and keynote speaker. Valdez remembers learning about Cesar Chavez in 1983, “To me he is the most influential leader in U.S. History… He did more for Latinos than any other person in the history of the United States.”
Jose Lopez, Youth Programs Coordinator of the Diocese of Stockton remembers Cesar Chavez when he saw him in south Stockton’s McKinley Park. “He told us, ‘newborn puppies open their eyes during the first 3 days and when will you do it?’ those words will forever be remembered, because he was inviting us to wake up and to fight for our rights,” Chavez’s words are, “embedded well and are very important.”
For Tatiana Garcia, 11th grade student at Venture Academy the conversation and the art, hits close to home. “My family has been working on the fields, Cesar Chavez’s work impacted our family as well as many other,” Garcia appreciated the program and Valdes’ art. “He has a lot of talent. I am impressed by his pencil work.”
MHC&G is open all year with different monthly exhibits by artist, community members and educational programs. The Gallery is located at 111 S. Hunter Street, Stockton, CA 95202.
Stockton— “Educational Workshops about credit and debt in our community will benefit our residents,” said Rosalinda Galaviz, Community Advocate in South Stockton.
“I have seen cases of individuals who cannot find an apartment or a house to live because their credit is hurting them,” Ms. Galaviz elaborated, “in the case of a Stockton resident, ‘I know,’ she is living with a friend by renting a room because her student loans as well as some medical bills are hurting her credit…”
During the morning of March 8th, —at the Kennedy Center located on Southeast Stockton— Housing and Economic Rights Advocates and local Officials released information of a new monthly workshop series aim to educate local residents about mortgage and debt collection issues.
“We’re excited to be bringing more of our energy and focus into the Valley, and we’re starting with San Joaquin County,” said Maeve Elise Brown, Executive Director of HERA.
San Joaquin County Officials praised the plan, “I think HERA can help fulfill a need,” highlighted San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney, James Lewis as he acknowledge underserved residents in the community.
Monica Hernandez is looking forward to the information because, “my ex-husband has drown my credit.” Hernandez has been looking for help on reestablishing her credit as she would like to become a homeowner in a near future.
“Having the workshops southeast Stockton is great!” Galaviz acknowledge that some residents may encounter transportation issues; but, “by bringing the clinic to the neighborhood it helps.”
The series is underwritten by a grant from San Francisco-based van Löben Sels/RembeRock Foundation and the presenters will be offered by the Oakland based, Housing and Economic Rights Advocates.
HERA is a not-for-profit legal service and advocacy organization dedicated to helping California residents —particularly those most vulnerable. The organization has been building a safe, sound financial future, free of discrimination and economic abuses, in all aspects of household financial concerns.
The San Joaquin County Human Services Agency and HERA are working together in elaborating the workshops and legal clinics calendar which will soon be published. Anyone may obtain more information about the workshops by contacting Erté Boyette, Community Program Manager at (209) 468-1549 or by contacting HERA at (510) 271-8443.
Bilingual Weekly (BW News) – Your source of Local news covering topics of Latino interest in Stockton, California; and San Joaquin County.
STOCKTON — On Wednesday January 6th, More than 250 business owners and corporate representatives gathered at the University of the Pacific’s DelaRosa University Center to learn at the 2016 Business Forecast Conference.
The Conference organized by the San Joaquin County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce offered four speakers with different insight to 2016’s economic outlook.
Jeffrey Michael, Director of the Center for Business and Policy Research at University of the Pacific projected that San Joaquin’s prospects may be brighter than the rest of the nation expects the 3.4 percent job growth of San Joaquin to reach 3.7 percent in 2016.
“Stockton is the 4th in job growth in California; Stockton is doing better thank Sacramento,” highlighted Michael.
However, Bob Gutierrez, Director of Government Affairs for Food 4 Less, and the Hispanic Chamber’s President Elect, highlighted a list of State laws which that will increase business regulation and cost.
Scott Anderson, Chief Economist of Bank of the West, projects throughout that, “education, health, professional services, and transportation” are among the industries to excel in the upcoming months.
Last year, San Joaquin County’s 1.6 percent growth population was at the forefront when compared to the rest of the state, “That’s a significant recovery from we were a few years ago,” said Michael adding, the areas hardest hit by the housing recession are coming back strong.”
Michael projects gains in the construction industry as it has been recovering from the 1,000’s during the recession to last year’s 1,700 dwelling and projected to be at 2,200 new units in 2016.
Bilingual Weekly (BW News) – Your source of Local news covering topics of Latino interest in Stockton, California; and San Joaquin County.
San Joaquin County — On Thursday December 31st Governor Jerry Brown announced the appointment of Moses Zapien as the representative of the 3rd District in the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors. The 3rd District became vacant when former Supervisor Steve Bestolarides was appointed, by a 3 to 1 vote, to County Assessor-Recorder-County Clerk on August of last year.
Zapien —who earned his law degree from the Laurence Drivon School of Law— was first elected to represent the City of Stockton’s 4th District in November of 2012. Last summer, he announced his candidacy to the higher office of County Supervisor rather than seeking a second term at City Council.
Born and raised in Stockton, Moses Zapien is the son of immigrant parents “who taught him the value of hard work and service to the community,” reads his campaign literature.
In August 2015 Zapien was appointed Deputy District Attorney to the San Joaquin County Superior Court. At the time, he wrote on his Facebook account, “I’m excited to be rejoining the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office and being part of a team of dedicated professionals, committed to the cause of Justice and to serving victims of crime.” However, Stockton’s Daily Newspaper, The Record, informed that —given the Supervisor’s post is a full-time job— “he has resigned from the position Thursday, December 31st.
In his website he cites “jobs, safety and openness/transparency” as his top three issues at the County Board of Supervisors. Zapien was not available to comment by the time this edition closed.
BW News – Your source of Local news covering topics of Latino interest in Stockton, California; and San Joaquin County.
New program at Teachers College of San Joaquin allows transitional kindergarten teachers to obtain certificate required by change in law, SB 876
The San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) Teachers College of San Joaquin (TCSJ) announces that enrollment is open for the new Transitional Kindergarten (TK) Certificate Program that will allow teachers to meet new requirements for teachers following the Kindergarten Readiness Act.
Under a recent change to state law, teachers first assigned to a TK classroom after July 1, 2015, must complete 24 units in child development by Aug. 1, 2020. Recognizing the need, TCSJ developed a program allowing teachers to complete those units while also giving them the option to pursue other educational and professional goals through programs already offered at the college.
“We have worked hard to make the program attractive to a variety of teachers by developing it in such a way that teachers are able to choose multiple pathways, including the pursuit of a Master’s Degree,” said Kimberly Ott, a program developer and SJCOE coordinator of TK support services.
Classes begin in February.
The new certificate requirement comes from Senate Bill 876. The law follows the Kindergarten Readiness Act, which made one year of voluntary, high-quality TK available to every 4-year-old in California to ready them for success in school.
For more information about the TK Certificate Program at TCSJ call (209) 468-4926 or visit: teacherscollegesj.edu.
Teachers College of San Joaquin: Founded in 2009 by the San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE), Teachers College of San Joaquin (TCSJ) is the first WASC accredited institution to be housed within a county office of education and serves graduate students from across Northern California, including teachers and administrators who come from both elementary and high school settings. This year, TCSJ has over 1,000 students enrolled, including new TK teachers.
BW News – Your source of Local news covering topics of Latino interest in Stockton, California; and San Joaquin County.
Stockton, CA —The echo of a rope hitting the ground, constant punches to sand bags, and echoes of men and woman on boxing training mode fill the Yaqui Lopez Fat City gym walls — a gym under the leadership of Alvaro “Yaqui” Lopez.
Yaqui Lopez, is remembered for challenging the World Light Heavyweight Boxing title five times; although he did not succeeded as the title holder, he was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame on Saturday, October 13, 2007. “I am pleased to be among the champions who have been inducted into the hall of fame,” shared Lopez.
Today, Lopez’ focus is outside of the ring. He has a vision to help younger generations reach their goals. Lopez now trains and stands at the ring’s corner as Jack Cruz, his late father-in-law and manager, did during his 12-year career.
“I know that this guys have the potential of climbing the boxing later, I know they have the potential to reach their goals,” Lopez highlighted the hard work of each of the participants and what that means to him.
“I started training very young,” explained Abel Carreon, Stockton resident, who spends a minimum of two and a half hours training and runs an average of 10 miles a day. Fat City has kept him out of trouble, “I come from the streets, being here keeps me healthy and out of trouble,” Carreon recognizes the positive impact of Yaqui Lopez’ vision. Similar to Carreon’s story there are others who prefer spending their time training rather than to be in the streets.
The gym is open to the public with a nominal fee to keep the equipment running. “We don’t get paid for all the work we do with the kids,” Lopez is grateful of the support he receives from several volunteers who help him keep and maintain the gym. Lopez explained that, “we ask for a small contribution to maintain the equipment and to get other training equipment needed.”
Fat City Boxing Gym is constantly replacing damaged equipment as its natural boxing use tears and wears many items fast. Many have stepped up to helping Lopez with equipment, and funds, “We operate as a not-for-profit organization; so, we constantly encourage our community to help.”
If you or someone you know is interested in joining Yaqui Lopez’s Fat City Boxing Club you may reach their office at (209) 800-2977. The gym is located at 835 E. Miner Avenue, Stockton, CA 95202.
BW News – Your source of local news covering Latino News in Stockton, California
Stockton, Ca —”I am very thankful for having a warm meal today,” said Juan, a dislocated worker, who became homeless after his former landlord sold the house he rented for more than 8 months. Juan received a Thanksgiving meal at Saint Mary’s Dining Hall.
The following morning while many rushed in hopes to get black Friday deals, members of the Knights of Columbus volunteered at the kitchen of Saint Mary’s Dining Hall. “Since many families are tired or shopping today, we figured we would come out and help,” said Al Espinor, 2nd Year Trustee of the Knights of Columbus, speaking on behalf of the group.
Edward Figueroa, Executive Director at Saint Mary’s Hall expressed his gratitude for the many volunteers that visit to support the agency throughout the year. “We have 45 staff members; however, we need approximately 100 people a day to reach the service level needed in our community.”
“They [Saint Mary’s Dining Hall] need help all year; that’s why we come out once a month, to lend a hand,” highlighted Espinor while serving clients. He explained, “Today its a special day because of Thanksgiving and the initiation of the Holiday season.”
Like Juan 9,000 persons receive breakfast meals in a single month; and demand rises by lunch. In October of this year an estimated 12,000 lunch meals were served and, “We are now serving 10,000 dinners a month,” said Figueroa.
During the Holiday season the organization, “raises approximately one third of its budget,” Figueroa explained, “We are fortunate to live in the central valley; and, we are thankful of the many farmers and businesses willing to help.”
Edward Figueroa encourages community members to visit, the Dining Room has special tours for visitors. “people tend to think ‘its them… its their problem’; we encourage everyone to understand ‘it’s us’ we are all a community.”
To learn more about St. Mary’s Dining Room you may visit http://www.stmarysdiningroom.org or call Rebecca Glissman at (209) 467-0703.
SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco Due Process for All Ordinance went into effect Friday, limiting responses by local law enforcement to immigration hold requests. The ordinance was signed last month after two unanimous votes by the Board of Supervisors.
BOXER DENOUNCES STUDENT LOAN DEAL THAT WOULD COST STUDENTS MORE THAN CURRENT LAW
New Plan Offers Initially Low “Teaser” Interest Rates—Recent History Indicates that Tying Rates to the Market Will Cost Borrowers More in the Long Run
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) spoke out on the U.S. Senate floor today against the student loan deal that will cost students and their families more money in the long run.
You can view video of Senator Boxer’s floor speech here.
“We have a stark choice to make… We can go with that deal that puts debt on the backs of our students, an additional $715 million worth of debt. Or we can go with the Reed-Warren alternative,” Senator Boxer said on the floor. “This is what we’re talking about: the deal will take $715 million out of the students’ pockets over the next ten years… This $715 million is going right on the backs of our families.”
Today, the Senate debated legislation that would tie student loan interest rates to market rates, offering low “teaser” rates for a few years, mortgaged through rate increases on future students. The legislation would link student loan interest rates to the 10-year Treasury bond, and if the last 30 years of the bond’s interest rates are an indication for the future, we can expect borrowers to pay well over the current interest rate of 6.8 percent.
For example, a student who borrows $30,000 to go to school and pays it back over 25 years could pay almost $8,500 more in interest under this legislation than under current law.
Senator Boxer also spoke in support of alternative legislation by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) that would ensure no student, now or in the future, is harmed by higher interest rates. The alternative would set interest rate caps at the levels in existing law – 6.8 percent for all Stafford loans and 7.9 percent for PLUS loans, compared to the currently proposed 8.25 percent for undergraduate, 9.5 percent for graduate and 10.5 percent for PLUS loans.
WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs has launched a new hotline — 1-855-VA-WOMEN — to receive and respond to questions from Veterans, their families and caregivers about the many VA services and resources available to women Veterans. The service began accepting calls on April 23, 2013.
“Some women Veterans may not know about high-quality VA care and services available to them,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “The hotline will allow us to field their questions and provide critical information about the latest enhancements in VA services.” Continue reading
I-5/French Camp Road Interchange Reconstruction
(Stockton, CA)—Beginning today, April 25, 2013, to accommodate work required for reconstruction of the Interstate 5/ French Camp Road Interchange, the inside #1 lane on the northbound off-ramp at the interchange and the inside #1 lane on the southbound off-ramp will be closed indefinitely. At least one lane at each off-ramp will be open at all times.
This work is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment and/or materials and construction-related issues.
For the safety of workers and other motorists, please Slow for the Cone Zone.
When I first interviewed California’s Secretary of Natural Resources John Laird, I was thrilled to meet a man with a great reputation as a conservationist. As a newly-minted reporter, I hoped that he and Gov. Brown would bring positive change to California’s deteriorating environment.
But the conversation quickly shifted from Laird’s life story to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), an expensive scheme to build two tunnels and export more water out of the beleaguered SF-Bay Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast. Laird called the Delta, the “Rubik’s Cube” of water policy for its complexity.
True. I’ve investigated it for more than a year, but it’s really not all that complicated. The Delta’s two primary tributaries are in trouble. The San Joaquin River often runs dry due to excessive diversions, and the Sacramento River is sucked south by two massive pumps sitting in the estuary. The pumps cause rivers to flow backwards and entrap thousands of fish en route to spawn, including salmon, steelhead and smelt.
In a nutshell, the Delta needs more water and less pumping. Why? The Delta is home to more than 750 species of plants and animals, 33 of which are endangered, and likely to go extinct within the next 25 to 50 years, if not sooner, unless flows increase. But by how much? In 2010, the State Water Resources Control Board issued public trust recommendations that showed that flows need to increase by nearly 50 percent to restore the ecosystem. That’s a lot, but it’s possible.
I interviewed scientists. I drove to Southern California and talked to residents who put in dry landscaping. I met farmers who installed drip irrigation systems. I talked to Central Valley irrigation district managers who showed me new technology. I went to water recycling plants and drank purified sewage. In sum, I discovered that we can reduce water use by that much—in fact, there is more “new” water in recycling, conservation and technology, than California regularly exports from the Delta.
But there are major snags. One is Gov. Brown’s leadership; he wants to win an age-old battle to build the latest version of the peripheral canal, which voters soundly rejected years ago. The other is entrenched urban and agricultural interests, which are already refueling Brown’s reelection campaign. On my way to L.A., I noticed signs peppered all over the West Side of the San Joaquin Valley, an alkaline desert that receives a large of portion of Delta water. I’d read that the area had drainage issues, so I got my boots dirty, again—actually my sandals dusty.
I learned that in 1980s, west side drainage water caused massive bird, fish and livestock deformities at Kesterson Reservoir, due to selenium, a naturally occurring mineral, which is toxic in large doses. Selenium can’t be removed nor can it be diluted with more water. It bio-accumulates and works its way up the food chain. The current proposed solution? Filter it into a toxic sludge, and then dispose of it somewhere else. The hard truth? West side farming isn’t suitable for irrigated agriculture in the long run because of the drainage problem, but there are other viable uses for the land, like dry cropping or solar farming, and some land has been retired. Herein lies a potent solution.
Consider that 1.3 million acres on the west side is impaired because of salt and selenium buildup. Gradually retiring these lands might free up nearly 4 million acre-feet of water, which happens to be enough to fulfill the public trust recommendations for flows for the north and south delta. That’s not all the water that’s needed, but it would go a long way. That and effective conservation would solve the primary problems associated with the water supply and the ecosystem.
But BDCP continues to go another direction.
At the last public budget meeting, Dr. David Sunding spoke about a benefit-cost analysis for the tunnels. I wondered how he could justify the project since it’s well-known that conservation is the cheapest way to create new supplies, and the $23 to $50 billion tunnel project won’t increase supplies. I quickly learned that the fundamental assumptions behind Sunding’s budget analysis are so heavily skewed towards the tunnels; they’re essentially false. He assumes that urban water use will increase, and that agriculture use will remain steady. Yet, urban use has declined or remained flat since the 1990s, despite an increase in population. Agriculture demand has also declined, due to improvements in efficiency, among other things.
Instead of dealing straight, the BDCP is trumping up data and attempting to get science to match the tunnel project. It could bolster new industries, create high-paying jobs and preserve one of the most bio-diverse and beautiful places in the country, both its agriculture and its environment. But integrity and honesty would have to take the lead, along with a strong conservation program. Instead, the BDCP is feeding the public false data to build a project that will not serve anyone in the long run.
What happening now? Most immediately, the State Water Board is holding a hearing on Wednesday, March 20 at 9 a.m. in the Coastal Hearing Room, Cal/EPA Building, 1001 Street, Second Floor, Sacramento. The meeting regards the public trust recommendations for Delta flows; the Board is currently considering lowering its standards. Comments can be emailed to email@example.com by March 29, 2013. Include “Comment Letter – Bay Delta Plan SED” in the subject line.
The next BDCP meeting is also on March 20. It begins at 1:30 p.m. at the Ramada in West Sacramento, on 1250 Halyard Drive.
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex… It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.—E. F. Schumacher
The Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), also known as the twin tunnels or the latest version of the peripheral canal, recently held two public meetings with all the big players present, but with some interesting twists.
Presentations, given in the customary tight-lipped monotone, were interrupted by fiery environmental groups and the frank questions and remarks of Melinda Terry, Manager of the North Delta Water Agency.
“We really don’t have an avenue in this process, and it’s been very frustrating,” Terry said. “My one plea is going to be, when you come out with your draft, please don’t indicate that it really had the input of these stakeholders and that we helped develop it. My agency will be put in a position to refute that.”
Terry represents a district, which exists to protect Delta farmers, who get their irrigation water directly from the Sacramento River and its tributaries. The district has a contract with the Department of Water Resources, which forbids the state from harming the agency. If the BDCP builds its tunnel intake in the north delta, water quality could be affected and so could the habitat for 57 threatened species.
And environmental groups are up in arms.
“We will continue to oppose the tunnels or any of the peripheral export schemes,” said Nick Di Croce, Co-Facilitator of the Environmental Water Caucus, a collection of 30 conservation groups. “We are pushing for taking less water out of the Delta; let’s make up for the reduced exports with conservation and efficiency.”
The reduced exports that Di Croce refers to, relate to environmental protections, which restrict water exports to state and federal contractors, like Metropolitan Water District, the Kern County Water Agency and Westlands Water District. In a nutshell, there are 57 endangered and threatened species in the Delta, several of which have been decimated by the lack of water flowing through the system. The Delta’s primary tributaries have big problems. The San Joaquin River has often run dry due to diversions, and the Sacramento River is used to convey water to massive pumps that sit in the southern part of the estuary. The pumps draw water into the California Aqueduct and create a north to south flow across a tidal estuary, which is meant to flow east to west, causing rivers to flow backwards and entrapping thousands of endangered fish en route to spawn, including steelhead and salmon.
The BDCP is supposed to be a habitat conservation plan, but the twin tunnels have dominated the conversation. The original hope was that by increasing Delta land habitat, the BDCP could increase water exports and build a new intake in the northern part of the Delta. Last February, the BDCP planned to increase exports by 15 to 24 percent. But the Delta ecosystem is in dire need of more water—not less. This isn’t news to anyone. The State Water Resources Control Board issued public trust recommendations in 2010, which indicated that Delta water use needs to decline by nearly 50 percent. Addressing this issue directly has not been a primary tenet of the BDCP. Instead, BDCP planners are still talking tunnels.
Questionable Fiscal Benefits of the BDCP’s Twin Tunnels
At another BDCP meeting held at the Natural Resources Building, the benefits of the tunnel plan were outlined in a presentation given by Dr. David Sunding, a Professor in the College of Natural Resources at U.C. Berkeley.
Under hypothetical modeling conditions, the BDCP’s current selected alternative could increase urban supplies on average less than 100,000 acre-feet annually during shortages. That increases urban reliability less than 1 percent. Meanwhile, effective conservation measures could yield millions of acre-feet in new water supplies at lower costs.
Sunding’s underlying assumptions are that urban demand will grow and that agricultural demand will remain steady. “It’s not clear whether his urban demand calculations use up-to-date population forecasts,” said Dr. Jeffrey Michael, the Director of the Business Forecasting Center at the University of the Pacific.
Sunding noted that his report was based on conditional data, but he could not be reached to discuss his modeling techniques and research, despite repeated phone calls and emails. Sunding will begin work on a benefit-cost analysis to determine the value of the $23 to $50 billion project. As yet, it is unclear what data will be included in that study. Thus far, only the benefits of the project have been evaluated, without the capital costs of the project included. Until this meeting, the BDCP had refused to perform a cost-benefit analysis.
Why the reversal? No one knows exactly. “I can only speculate that they felt political pressure, and it’s inevitable, they would prefer to control the process,” Michael said. “I am happy that they are working on it, but it has to be compared to a no-tunnel alternative that satisfies the ESA (Endangered Species Act).” That kind of comparison could keep the environmental benefits of conservation from distorting the fiscal analysis of the tunnels. An economic evaluation of Sunding’s presentation is also available on Dr. Jeffrey Michael’s blog.
The BDCP promises to release updated flow recommendations and hold another meeting in January or February. If all goes as usual, the presentations won’t be publicly released until the day of the meeting or the day after the meeting, making public participation and direct inquiry difficult.
Thus far, the BDCP has revised its predicted level of exports in a downward direction. The original plan, presented nearly a year ago, was to increase exports to 5.9 million acre-feet, then it was downsized to 5.3 million acre-feet. The current range recommended by state and federal wildlife agencies in May hovers around 4.3 to 4.7 million acre-feet, but that amount is a moving target, which few will commit to. Instead, the agencies refer to an adaptive management program, which is notably vague.
What remains implacable is a court-ordered export limit of 4.9 million acre-feet, which is about a million-acre feet shy of the public trust recommendations. According to the Doctrine of Public Trust, it is the duty of the state to protect the people’s common heritage to streams, rivers, lakes, marshlands and tidelands—all components of the Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast.