As the date for the long-awaited release of the draft EIR/EIS on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan nears, Natural Resources Secretary John Laird is ramping up the Brown administration's efforts to get Southern Californians to mobilize behind the project. He picked a perfect spot to do that on Thursday, speaking to the Ventura County Association of Water Agencies at a meeting held at the Ronald W. Reagan Presidential Library & Museum.
The Reagan Library sits at the intersection of perhaps the two largest cities in Southern California that rely on Delta water for every drop their residents drink, bathe in and water their lawns with. Because Ventura County is north of the Metropolitan Water District's Colorado River pipelines, it gets no mix of Colorado River water. And while the coastal half of Ventura County gets by either exclusively on local water resources (Ventura) or a mix of local and imported water (Oxnard), Thousand Oaks and Simi have no local resources to speak of.
Earlier in the day, Laird had delivered the same message in private meetings with The Ventura County Star editorial board and the Ventura County Farm Bureau.
Laird told them the project was all good -- tunnels that would ensure reliable exports of existing Delta supplies for 50 years, elegant cooperation between state and federal officials to ensure that fish populations are at least not further harmed and at best replenished, and a habitat restoration plan that Laird described as the largest in U.S. history "with the possible exception of the Everglades."
It's time, he told local elected officials, for them to make their voices heard -- before the loud voices of critics overwhelm the debate that is about to come. Among his admonitions:
"It is up to us to educate people that these are decisions that are going to matter for the next 50 years.