Policy

Packed House At The Santa Clara Valley Water District Board Meeting - August 22, 2017!

A Report On The Santa Clara Valley Water District Board Meeting Held On Aug. 22, 2017 - By Rod Kirk

 If you did not attend the SCVWD board meeting on August 22, 2017, you missed a good one! The clock is at about 11:30pm for yay or nay decisions for the various water districts to vote on whether they want to participate in the Delta Tunnels Project (WaterFix). 

scvwd mtg signs 082217 smThe event started with a nice showing of people at 5pm to carry protest signs to show to incoming and passersby. A packed boardroom began the meeting at 6pm with the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. After a few meeting formalities were taken care of and after several public comments on unrelated issues were completed, the show began. The "staff" (in-house department group that works behind the scenes to interpret and document all things related to the WaterFix project) began with a presentation which presented their view of the project.

In my opinion, the information presented by the staff was a mixture of facts and crafted data. Listening to the staff present I could not bring myself to thinking that they were completely neutral fact finders. I thought the information in their presentation, the way they presented, and their response to questions revealed a mission to sway the board into approving the Delta Tunnels project more than not. More on this later. 

  

The collective thoughts by those who oppose the Delta Tunnels were communicated to the Board and can be summarized as followed:

- Violates the mandates of the 2009 Delta Reform Act
- Does more harm to the fisheries in the estuary
- Reduces the fresh water slushing action required for a healthy estuary
- 17Bill$ project has no caps and nothing said about cost overruns which will inevitably occur
- The economic models lack complete info on the overlay of water metrics, participation, and other metrics
- Project will not make more water available; it is said to mostly decrease risks
- The SF Bay Delta will suffer further destruction
- The two tunnels were created to mitigate risk if one tunnel were to fail, the other could be used. Big price tag for redundancy.
- The touted seismic risks are extremely exagerated. During the Delta levees 100 year life, no earthquake has done significant damage 
- Who is going to pay the bills if some water agencies do not opt in or if some bail out later. The affect on the ratepayer?
- No complete, understandable, and believable ratepayer model has been produced to indicate true ratepayer costs
- The consensus agreement is that a plan that spends ratepayer money on regional water projects is a much better return on money

scvwd mtg audience 082217 smI had my opportunity to speak my mind to the board and presented them with my ideas. A hardcopy of what I said is available here. In addition to my participation, the meeting was well attended by numerous individuals as well as a good showing from the Sierra Club, Restore The Delta, and Healthy Alternatives to Pesticides. 

When the Staff got to the slide in their presentation where they showed that there will be two components of participation (one headed by SWP - State and would be mandatory and the other headed by CVP - Federal which would be voluntary), the place lit up! Was this the first time the board was informed of this? The board was grappling with this. What happens if we opt out? Will we be denied water? One thing seemed for certain; the board wanted to fully understand what were the ramifications of opting in or out. The disturbing indication here is that we are at the 11th hour before the vote of approval and there are still many details that need to be ironed out. Why wasn't these and other points made known a year ago? Is somebody doling out data in a controlled manner in order to influence the results? Staff presentations available here.

All in all it was a good session with the Board asking many questions, as well as hearing a lot of comments from concerned ratepayers and opponents of the project. 

The next board meeting will be on August 25th. The Delta Counties Coalition will present on Alternatives to the California WaterFix. Following that, September 12 will be another important board meeting which I hope many of you can attend.

About The Author

rod kirk pic smallerRod Kirk, a San Francisco Bay area native, has held various Electrical Engineering positions in numerous companies in the areas of data storage, networks, and motion control. He has a degree from San Jose State University and an Energy Management certificate from De Anza College. Rod is currently providing Technical Writing and documentataion services for emerging companies.

 

 

 

 

What Does The Passing Of Rule 12-16 Mean To You As Bay Area Residents?

A Presentation By Tony Greeen

pixabay smoke 258786 1920 smThe Bay Area prides itself of being one of the most environmentally conscious places on Earth. Yet in some locations it's pollution levels make its air hazardous to breathe for its inhabitants. Remarkably, there has been no
emissions cap in place for the Bay Area oil refiners who are responsible for a good part of the Bay Area’s pollution and GHG emissions. Hear how the passing Of Rule 12-16 can be a first step to protecting our air from fossil fuel production until renewable energy is adopted in large scale. Learn about:

  



-  Why Rule 12-16 was proposed
-  Why Oil produced from Tar Sands is hazardous to the environment
-  How Oil Refineries contribute the Bay Area Air Pollution

Come join us for this special meeting!

Download The Presentation Here

 

Read more: What Does The Passing Of Rule 12-16 Mean To You As Bay Area Residents?

Election 2016! A Breakdown Of The Propositions To Find Out Just How Green They Are

An Information Voting Session Led By Rod Kirk

pixabay rules 1339917 1280 smFor many people, the propositions on the voting ballet are very confusing. The advertisements for each proposition can leave us voters in a state of distrust about our political system. Many people end up not voting at all or voting "no" on the propositions that are confusing. If you feel the same way, then our next EGG meeting is one you should attend!

Not only are we going to decipher the propositions, but we are going to take a stab at figuring out which ones support a green way of life and which ones don't. Hopefully, you will come away with a good understanding of the propositions and be able to make an intelligent decision when you vote.

Join us for this seasonal EGG meeting become smarter!

Presentation Available Here

  

 

 

Read more: Election 2016! A Breakdown Of The Propositions To Find Out Just How Green They Are

Clean Energy Ministerial - Seventh Annual

Live Streaming Event With Discussion

Clean Energy MinisterialToday we will be live streaming the activity taking place in the 7th annual Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM7). The goal of this Ministerial is to create positive sustainable actions that are real-world and make a difference. The core attendees are global energy policymakers, clean energy experts, and visionaries from investment and business areas. This meeting will be the first CEM meeting to occur after the COP21 climate change talks that took place in Paris in 2015. Many countries will be participating. A short list of some of the presenters includes:

  • Ernst Monitz - US Secretary of Energy
  • Jerry Brown - Governor of California
  • Lisa Jackson - VP Environment, Policy & Social Initiatives, Apple Computer
  • Steven Chu - Former US Energy Secretary
  • John Woolard - VP of Energy, Google
  • Janet Napolitano - President, University of California
  • Mark Kenber - CEO, The Climate Group

For a complete list, please visit the Greenbiz event website. Greenbiz is the official livestream partner for this conference.

Please join us for the first 1 1/2 hours of streaming of the event which coincides with our EGG meeting. We encourage you to register so you will be able to access the event after our meeting is over.

Read more: Clean Energy Ministerial - Seventh Annual

Net Metering to Continue in California - NEM 2.0

cpuc 3The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has approved a plan to continue net metering in California. It was voted on in a meeting on Jan. 28, 2016 and the vote was close; 3 to 2. This is a win for the solar customers and the solar companies. If the vote would have failed, we most likely would have ended up with one of the several plans supported by the utility companies which, according to many reviews, would have made solar usage a much more expensive option for consumers. Organizations which applauded the decision includes CALSEIA, Environment California, and Alliance for Solar Choice.

The highlights of the new plan include the following regulations:

 

  • Requirement that residential customers on the NEM 2.0 plan use "time of use" rates.
  • Allows an interconnection charge of $75-$150 and asseses some "non-bypassable" charges which will be about $7-$9 per month on average.
  • Will not include any of the proposed grid access fess, capacity fees, demand charges, per month netting, and standby charges.
  • Plan to keep solar access for farms.
  • Add solar participation for renters.
  • Continuation of full retail credit for net metering and customers that install solar products under NEM 2.0 will not be subject to future changes of the rules for a period of twenty years.

bills solar 2However, there are many organizations and opponents to the decision that are making the claim that the plan is flawed and will result in increased costs for non-solar users and low income energy users going forward. Organizations and companies that were opposed to the decision includes PG&E, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric.

 The CPUC says that this is just an intermin step in a longer range plan to modernize energy efficiency and usage across California. The next revision, NEM 3.0 will be developed over the next three years. You can go to the CPUC website for more detailed information on the NEM 2.0 plan.

Bay Delta Discussion at the Santa Clara Valley Water District Meeting 01/26/16

scvwd logo 1On this fine dry Tuesday, a very important meeting took place at the Santa Clara Valley Water District site on Almaden Expressway in San Jose. Aside from a few miscellaneous business items to take care of, the main topic was the controversial California Delta Tunnel and water plan. The meeting was called the "California Waterfix & EcoRestore" special board workshop. The "tunnel plan" part of the meeting lasted almost three hours and everybody who attended left with a much better understanding of the issues, and a clearer understanding of how much they really don't know. The bottom line; people who are in a position of authority to determine the path this plan takes need to become knowledgable on the facts.

The current Baord of Directors at the meeting included Gary Kremen, Tony Estreemera, Nai Hsueh, Linda leZotte, John Varela, and Chairperson Barbara Keegan. The format of the meeting was to listen to the invited presenters, solicit input from public attendees, and then make remarks on what they have heard.

There were three "invited guests" who gave presentations. Mark Cowin, Director with the California Dept. of Water Resources; David Oksita, Director of Ecosystem Restoration at the California Natural Resources Agency; and Chuck Bonham, Director at the California Cept. of Fish & Wildlife. All three presented information which was for the current Governor Brown "Water Fix" plan. Out of the three, Chuck Bonham was the one presenter who was more closely aligned to the thoughts of the dozens of other people in attendance who were not in favor of the current "Water Fix" plan.

barrigan picAfter the three invitees presented their data and views, the public attendees were given the opportunity to speak for a duration of 3 minutes each. For about an hour the public attendees presented to the Board why they should not support the current "Water Fix" plan. Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of the Restore the Delta organization, was among the key people providing insite to the Board. Deirdre Des Jardins, from Californa Water Research provided some comments. There were about fifteen other people who provided comments. Their area of expertise ranged from scientist, hydrologist, lawyer, environmentalist, engineer, various California and local committees, conservation organizations, Delta residents, Delta users, and more. 

There were several unified comments made by those that were not in support of the current "Water Fix" plan:scco water 1

  • We need the people of California to vote on the plan. This seems to be an "end around" on a topic which has been previously defeated by the voting public.
  • The people that will benefit most from this project are the Almond growers in Westland and Kern counties.
  • The slides addressed what the water flow into the new pipes would be in years average water years, but does not address the years when there is drought.
  • We need more regional self sufficiency; more conservation, and more water saving initiatives in our living environment.
  • We need more infrastructure to capture and re-use water.
  • We need to focus on levee rebuild and repair and beefing up.
  • We need to look seriously into water desalination.
  • Very little effort has been spent looking at the alternatives that can be put into place.
  • What will be trhe costs upon the rate payers? It is not clear in the proposals.
  • Lack of adequete information on the effect on wildlife with current plan.
  • California fisheries require water and this plan will impact that.
  • The current plan does not satisfy the "Co-Equal" Goals presented as a desired achievement.
  • Funding should take place to fix or replace leaky water pipes throughout the state which wastes a significant amount of water.
  • The plan lacks a requirment for water re-use.

After all voices were heard, the Board proceeded to individually make comments on the "Water Fix" plan. The Board of Directors mission is to understand the facts of the plan and recommend Santa Clara Counties involvement in the "Water Fix" plan. If they are onboard, then it is one step closer for the plan to be adopted statewide. If they are not onboard, if is one step closer for the plan not to be adopted. Plan adoption requires participation by various regions and authorities. The general impression of the Board was that there seems to be some items not fully specified in the plan and a number of outstanding questions which need to be answered.

Kremen 1 picGary Kremen had  concerns and questions regarding the finances of the project. What are the effects on the taxpayer? What are the limits? Who will get the water? Will we get our share of the water before others get theirs? 

  

 

Estremera picTony Estremera wanted focus on not only the cost of doing the project but also the cost of not doing the project. He is in favor of voter approval. He is also concerned about any rate payer variations.

 

   

 hsueh 1 picNai Hsueh seemed to be the Board member that was most outwardly for the current plan. She says that cost is an important consideration. Since Santa Clara County received 55% of its water from the Delta, that this plan can't be ignored. 

   

lezotte 1 picLinda LeZotte was one of the Boared members who seemed to be more against the current than for it. She is concerned about governance issues; who will manage the flow? When is water released? She believes that the Westlands Water District and Kern County will be the dominant users and will get more water. She wanted to know more about the factor of Adaptive Management that was brought up. She was concerned that the 25,000 acres being toughted as wetland restoration really had been established prior to this plan and should not be included as occuring because of this plan. She was concerned that there is too much language in the plan that is "hopeful" think rather than "promises".

 John Varela 1 picJohn L. Varela expressed that we are stewards of our water resources and have a responsibility to do the right thing. He is concerned that the Board will be making a decision which will affect generations to follow. Because of this, he really wants to make sure that the decision is based on clear accurate information. John seemed to be cautious about the current plan and wants to be more educated before he makes any decision.

  

b keegan pic 2Barbara Keegan expressed a lack of certainty with the financial part of the plan and too much of "we will cross that bridge when we get to it" attitude. What will be the cost for urban water users? She is fearful for urban folks subsidizing agricultural water users. She expressed concern for all the environmental factors that were brought up by the public speakers.Adpative management; there are so many variables. How can we get a realistic handle on them? We need to find acurate "causation" with the variable in order to make decisions. How do we make changes based on data? She is concerned that there are areas that have not done nearly as well as Santa Clara County with respect to water conservation and managing various aspects of water. So who will benefit more?

 santos 1 picRichard P. Santos provided  his view that there is alot of uncertainty in the situation. He is learning he believes the whole Board is undergoing a learning process on this complex issue. He would like to have voters vote on this water proposal.

  

 

The Board was unanimous with the comment that before they can make a decision they need to be better educated in the important factors involved with this or any other water plan. That is something they are going to focus on going forward. The next working meeting will take place in March of this year. This should another very interesting meeting and I urge you all to attend.

You can read more about the details of the "Water Fix" plan at the following places: http://restorethedelta.org/blog/, http://restorethedelta.org/, http://www.valleywater.org/, http://www.californiawaterfix.com/, http://resources.ca.gov/ecorestore/.

 

 

 

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