Steve Hopcraft and Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, RESTORE THE DELTA
On April 30, Governor Jerry Brown announced he will rename the Bay Delta Conservation Plan tunnels (BDCP) to “California Water Fix.” The separate habitat restoration part will be called “California Eco-Restore.”
Restore the Delta (RTD) and other opponents of Gov. Brown’s rush to build massive underground water tunnels that would drain the Delta and doom sustainable farms, salmon and other Pacific fisheries, today responded to Gov. Brown’s abandonment of habitat restoration in his Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) tunnels project, saying the new plan violates the statutory ‘co-equal goals’, end-runs the EPA and federal scientists who refused to issue permits for the project.
The governor has called the massive change “technical,” but opponents said it results from fatal flaws in the BDCP and the lack of funding for the restoration formerly proposed under the BDCP.
The new maneuver ignores the judgment of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), Delta Independent Science Board (DISB), and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after scientific reviews that the tunnels project didn’t meet minimum Endangered Species Act (ESA) and Clean Water Act (CWA) standards.
The agencies found in particular that the project would jeopardize, rather than help recover key species, and violate anti-degradation laws to protect the Delta waterways as fishable, swimmable and drinkable.
Read more via: Restore the Delta Blog — News about California’s Most Important Estuary
David Siders and Phillip Reese, THE SACRAMENTO BEE
For years, Gov. Jerry Brown used the promise of habitat restoration to broaden the appeal of his plan to build two tunnels to divert water around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the south.
Designating the project as a habitat conservation plan – and securing a 50-year permit for the effort – not only gave water users paying for the project an assurance water deliveries could not easily be changed, but also cast the project as more than a standalone conveyance.
The $25 billion project, Brown said in his State of the State address in 2013, was “designed to improve the ecology of the Delta, with almost 100 square miles of habitat restoration.
”Brown’s announcement Thursday that he was dramatically reducing the habitat portion of the plan is expected to make permitting the project easier. But it also burdens the project with new political difficulties. Ecosystem restoration has long been part of efforts to bridge the fractured interests of farmers, environmentalists, Delta landowners and Southern California’s population centers, and reducing its emphasis has invigorated opponents of the effort.
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta, a group opposed to the project, said in a prepared statement that the project “has now shifted from a proposal to protect 56 species, and over 100,000 acres of habitat, to a straight water grab” from the Delta.
Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, said Brown needs to forget the tunnels and move on. “Today’s announcement confirms what I feared in 2009,” she said in a prepared statement. “The commitment to co-equal goals in the Delta has been broken. The tunnels will move forward, and the commitment to the health of the Delta has been reduced in large part, and relegated to a separate track.”
The new plan reduces to about 30,000 acres of restoration an initial effort to restore 100,000 acres of wetland and wildlife habitat. The projected cost is about $300 million, a tiny fraction of the $8 billion originally planned.
The change comes after federal agencies balked at a 50-year permit, with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency saying last year that the project could violate the federal Clean Water Act and harm endangered fish.Brown said Thursday that the original restoration plan was only an “idea.” He said the state did not have the money to restore 100,000 acres, but that with money from a voter-approved water bond and other sources, restoring 30,000 acres can be done.
Read more via: Jerry Brown’s revised water tunnels plan adds political problems | The Sacramento Bee The Sacramento Bee
Matt Weiser, THE SACRAMENTO BEE
The massive water diversion tunnels proposed in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta have undergone another major design change aimed at appeasing local residents: The three intakes planned on the Sacramento River will no longer require pumps.
The project, known as the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, has been in the works for eight years and is estimated to cost $25 billion. It calls for a pair of giant tunnels, 40 feet in diameter, that would draw water out of the Sacramento River and route it 30 miles away to existing state and federal diversion canals near Tracy. The goal is to improve reliability of water supplies drawn from the estuary while also restoring its natural environment.
Instead of giant electric pumps, the plan now calls for water to enter the three huge intakes by gravity flow. This, in turn, means most tall buildings can be eliminated at each intake. And there will be no need for permanent new high-voltage power lines. New power lines are still required to serve the tunneling machines, but these would be considered temporary: They would be removed after the 10-year construction period.
The project still includes massive water pumps, but they would now be at the project’s southern end, at Clifton Court Forebay, an existing reservoir near Tracy. They would move water from the new tunnel outlets to existing canals that distribute water across the state.
Read more via Pumps dropped from Delta water tunnel plan | The Sacramento Bee.