The Once and Future Delta discussion took place last month in the PG&E auditorium drawing approximately 60 people. The discussion was organized by the Commonwealth Club of California by the direction of Julian Chang.
Speakers included John Laird, California Secretary for Natural Resources, David Sundling, Co-director of the Berkeley Water Center and Karla Nemeth, Bay Delta Conservation Plan Coordinator.
“If nothing is done, the damages could be catastrophic,” said Laird. “There is a small window of opportunity and the time to act is now.”
The discussion covered a wide range of topics including climate change, water conservation, habitat restoration and water diversion. Notably, the speakers pointed out that the overall temperature is increasing which is causing a rise in sea level. With this rise in sea level, levees will inevitably burst and cause catastrophic damage.
The levees are currently unsustainable at the moment and since water flows from ecosystem to ecosystem, the damages are unimaginable. The discussion concluded that it is only a matter of time for a resolution and this is the time. A plan of habitat restoration which would occur over the next 50 years was proposed at the cost of $17.1 billion. Though it is very expensive, the outcome could result in $18 billion of infrastructure renovations as well as numerous preventative measures and the preservation of the bay’s natural habitats.
Also discussed was the importance of water conservation. Besides reservoirs in California, large amounts of drinking water are not stored and saved to be used during times of droughts. The proposed plan that was discussed involved more storage of drinking water and the innovation of desalinating water at a decreased cost. Not only will this proposed plan directly affect the water quality and sustainability of drinking water in Northern California but it will also beautify the surrounding ecosystems.
In recent years, California has faced periods of drought which resulted in a lack of drinking water for a period of time. “At certain parts of the year, Santa Cruz uses 100% rainwater to provide drinking water for the city,” Laird noted.
The bay is in danger and now is the critical moment that the citizens of Northern California can voice their opinions now that the facts have become reality.