Meral retires but Delta plan endures
Published: Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013 – 1:10 pm
Re “Top water official linked to tunnel plans to retire” (Page A4, Dec 15): I am the California Water Impact Network analyst who reported Jerry Meral’s comment that the Bay Delta Conservation Plan was never about saving the Delta. The comment by the state’s top water official was rumored to have triggered his retirement as a deputy resources secretary. I do believe his candid comments about the BDCP had much to do with his retirement. Unfortunately, the fiscally irresponsible and environmentally disastrous project he promoted as the twin tunnels endures. The Westlands Water District recently learned that it will cost contractors an extra $1.2 billion to complete design work on the tunnels. This extraordinary cost inflation should be taken as a harbinger for the entire project. And who will pay? Ratepayers, which means almost everyone who receives a municipal water bill in California. We don’t need this boondoggle.
— Tom Stokely, Mt. Shasta, water policy analyst, California Water Impact Network
Top water official linked to tunnel plans to retire
Published: Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013 – 12:00 am
Jerry Meral, Gov. Jerry Brown’s top water official and a major figure in the controversial, $25 billion water project proposed by the governor, will retire at the end of the month, the Brown administration confirmed Saturday.
Meral, deputy secretary of the state’s Natural Resources Agency, told Brown of his retirement in a letter Monday – the same day the Brown administration released its latest environmental analysis of a plan to build two tunnels to divert water around the Delta to the south.
“While additional permits will be required,” Meral said in the letter, “it is virtually certain that the plan will be implemented.”
Meral, who is widely regarded as one of California’s most accomplished preservationists, worked for Brown as a water adviser when Brown was governor before, from 1975 to 1983.
He was one of several high-profile advisers brought back by the Democratic governor when Brown took office in 2011.
Meral became a source of controversy when, earlier this year, five members of Congress called for his resignation after Tom Stokely, a water policy analyst with the California Water Impact Network, and Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, campaign director of Restore the Delta, said Meral told Stokely the Bay Delta Conservation Plan “is not about, and has never been about saving the Delta. The Delta cannot be saved.”
The Brown administration defended Meral at the time and said his remarks were taken out of context.
Meral did not give a reason for his retirement in his letter.
Richard Stapler, a Natural Resources Agency spokesman, said in an email Saturday that “while we’ve reluctantly accepted Dr. Meral’s decision to retire for a second time, his contribution to achieving the state’s dual goals of water supply reliability and ecosystem restoration is incalculable.”
Call David Siders, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1215. Follow him on Twitter @davidsiders.