Sunday, March 4, 2012
Delta belongs to us and we must protect it
March 04, 2012 12:00 AM
It has been reported recently that many people living in our Delta region are unaware of the vast network of bays, rivers and sloughs that make up the largest estuary on the West Coast.
Stockton sits in the very heart of this Delta and is home to 293,000 people who apparently take for granted the ability to farm the region, ship goods from the Port of Stockton, build homes by lakes and rivers, and enjoy the boating, fishing, and water sports that our Delta waterways offer.
The truth is that our Delta way of life is under attack by both federal and state laws that under the guise of ensuring a more reliable water supply for all of California and protecting and enhancing the Delta ecosystem, would take away not only our local land use authority but would build a canal or tunnel around the Delta that would remove precious water from our fragile waterways.
Our area's future economic prosperity depends upon an ability to maintain our agricultural economy, our Port's growth in shipping, and our orderly business and residential development, and the health of the Delta water itself.
The state Legislature has engineered this man-made disaster by establishing the Delta Stewardship Council, an independent, non-elected body that is charged with protecting the Delta through a voluminous document called The Delta Plan. Currently this plan lays out policies and principles that supposedly "protect" the Delta waterways, addressing everything from flood control to where homes can be built in our city. It essentially overrides our city's General Plan documents by requiring conformity to a loosely defined set of "covered actions."
It is apparent from attendance at DSC meetings and the pronouncements made by committee members, that the DSC sees its role as a super agency having the final say over local planning decisions. Just what we need in California is another super bureaucracy!
There have been five drafts of The Delta Plan, none of which have addressed our region's issues with land use planning, water rights protection, and the costs vs. the benefits of any of the proposed actions of the Plan. The suggestions of San Joaquin County and the four other counties comprising the Delta have been ignored, and the attitude is "just trust us."
We cannot trust a State agency that appears to have anything but our best interests in mind. Our future depends upon the ability of our locally elected officials to make decisions that will benefit our cities, not bring economic growth to a screeching halt.
San Joaquin County leaders are united in our opposition to The Delta Plan as currently drafted. We have formed a broad-based Delta Coalition comprised of cities, the county, water agencies, farming and business interests, and environmentalists to fight The Delta Plan.
This is the time for us to let both our federal and state representatives know that the Delta communities will not stand back and allow outsiders to take control of our waterways, our economy, and our future.
Ann Johnston is mayor of Stockton.
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