I started out Friday morning with a kayak ride from the Stockton Marina just West of Weber Point to the Port of Stockton and back. I encourage everyone to take advantage of our Delta recreational resources, especially at the Stockton Marina.
Following the Kayak trip, I participated in a Delta roundtable I organized with local stakeholders including representatives from Restore the Delta, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, REI, Village West Marina, and the California Delta Chamber of Commerce.
The biggest issue discussed was the BDCP, which could result in the installation of the Twin Tunnels peripheral canal project. The public comment period for the BDCP is now over, and the governor has indicated he plans to begin construction right after the November election with or without the support of a public bond measure. We discussed many of the potential problems with the BDCP including potential damage to or collapse of buildings from the vibrations produced by pile driving, to saltwater intrusion destroying the marinas.
The BDCP could also have a devastating impact on the local economy. By some estimates, the Delta is responsible for $85.4 billion in consumer spending for recreation, 732,000 jobs, and over $27 billion in wages and salaries, and $6.7 billion in state and local tax revenues.
The Stockton roundtable ended just before noon, and I drove to the Big Break East Bay Regional Park in Oakley to convene a second Delta roundtable with East Bay Regional Park rangers, a city council member, two marina owners, the Delta advisor to the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors, and a Delta scientist.
The emphasis in Oakley was somewhat different, but the overall concern was the same: that if the Twin Tunnels would have a devastating impact on the Delta. There was a broadly shared suggestion that the $21b, which is the estimated cost for the Twin Tunnels, would be far better spent on developing desalinization as a fresh water resource. New, more efficient desalinization technology is emerging that would make the fresh water production from desalinization cost competitive than water acquired from the Twin Tunnels. And possibly more important than cost, is reliability. Desalinized water is actually new water and would be available regardless of drought, levee integrity, climate change, or other potential threats to Southern California water supplies.
One of the biggest challenges to the Delta, identified at both roundtables, is that most of the public is not aware of the Delta. This is even true in the local communities. It was suggested that the Delta be referred to as the California Delta, that the Delta be clearly identified on maps, and that the Delta be popularized as the Mississippi Delta was through the writings of Mark Twain. If there is a significant potential for financial support from Delta recreational users, then perhaps some of these resources should be used to promote the Delta statewide.
After the Delta roundtable at Big Break, some of the participants took advantage of the trail for a walk along between the Delta and the Oakley residential neighborhood.
Early Saturday morning, I attended the graduation of the First 50, a youth volunteer organization started and headed by Jerron Jordan. The First 50 members, all from local high schools, spent free time after school and on weekends performing public service acts to improve Stockton. Each of the graduates present had an opportunity to express how the experiences impacted their lives. The most common sentiment was that it had changed their lives, helped them open up, gave them a sense of pride in Stockton, and that they enjoyed the activities. Mayor Silva was also there to encourage the graduates to stay involved in the community.
Following the graduation, I headed to the Dorothy Jones Community Center in South Stockton, where my office will hold mobile office hours starting next Friday, August 22. I met with members of the South Stockton community outreach to encourage them to take advantage of the mobile office hours for any federal issues like Social Security, Medicare, or immigration issues. We canvassed the nearby neighborhoods handing out fliers that gave the details of the office hours. I was very pleased by how many people answered their doors and listened to our invitation.