The comments come from Brown's Deputy Natural Resources Secretary, Jerry Meral, about the high-stakes Bay Delta Conservation Plan. It includes ecosystem restoration efforts and two 30-mile-long underground tunnels. Meral's been quoted as saying the plan has "never been about saving the Delta," and that "the Delta cannot be saved."
That has the region's elected officials calling for an immediate halt to the project. "The Delta is in crisis," says State Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis). "It is the heart and soul of the California water system. And unless it is restored, we'll have a serious problem with the water supply."
Wolk and other senators grilled top Brown Administration members at a committee hearing Tuesday. Meral's boss, Natural Resources Secretary John Laird, said that comment doesn't reflect the Administration's position.
Laird says some Delta lawmakers could never agree to any project that takes water from the Delta, so the challenge is "how can we listen to them closely and move as close as we can to their position - even if they can't agree."
The project does not require any further legislative or voter approval, but it does face a lengthy environmental review process that could last into early next year.