Ding Dong… The 2 Tunnel Project is Dead!

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From Osha Meserve:

The twin tunnels are officially dead!  https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article229949089.html

On May 2, 2019, DWR withdrew its project approval for WaterFix and rescinded the notice of determination it had filed to comply with CEQA. DWR also notified the SWRCB that the Petitioners (DWR and the Bureau of Reclamation) have withdrawn their Joint Petition for Change in the Point of Diversion.  (See also: https://water.ca.gov/deltaconveyance.) 

Today’s news follows by only a few days the Governor’s April 29 Executive Order N-10-19, setting forth the Governor’s preferred “portfolio” approach to California water, including the Delta water issues, in a new Water Resource Portfolio Initiative.  (See http://resources.ca.gov/initiatives/water-resilience/.)  This new initiative will examine measures to meet the needs of California’s communities, economy and environment through the 21st Century.

Lest we rest on our accomplishments to date, the state is still pursuing a single tunnel, although the parameters are still undefined.  Here is the new single tunnel website:  https://water.ca.gov/deltaconveyance.  I think people in the Delta understand that a single tunnel, if operated aggressively could to as much or maybe even more damage to water quality, flows and the environment.  So we will need to keep working to show why any sized tunnel is not the solution to our water needs, and point toward better solutions.

Congratulations on everyone’s tenacity and patience in getting to this point.  It is only because we all worked tirelessly to cut off the Tunnels at every turn that they finally gave up on the project.

We should also be proud that the Press Release from DWR specifically commits to “work[ing] with Delta communities and other stakeholders to limit local impacts of the project.”  On the other hand, the Q and A released on May 2nd relies on the Water Quality Control Plan to protect water supplies for local communities in the Delta, which is the same threadbare story we heard at the Water Board hearings.  In any case, we have much more acknowledgment in the administration than we have ever had of the need to protect Delta communities and agriculture.  So we need to keep up the pressure and stay in the game to get down to Zero Tunnels and a sustainable future for the Delta.

Last week’s announcements also have big implications for the pending litigation in state court over the adequacy of the environmental review and the state take permit.  Notably absent from DWR announcements is any reference to DWR’s validation action or Project Order 40, whereby DWR added the Tunnels to the State Water Project.  Nor has DWR clarified the status of the WaterFix bond resolutions themselves.  The next Case Management Conference in the litigation is rescheduled for May 23rd. So there will continue to be quite a bit of activity as we try to sort out what to do next in the litigation.

In the coming months, there are going to be a bunch of new processes in which the community will need to participate in order to continue protecting the Delta, including:
– Single Tunnel Environmental review and permitting, including a new water rights application at SWRCB
– Water Resource Portfolio Initiative workgroup
– Water Quality Control Plan/Voluntary Settlement Agreements
– Other ongoing Delta agency meetings, including restoration projects

In order to effectively engage in protecting the Delta, it is critical that we keep working together in our various coalitions and community groups to make sure we influence the outcomes of these processes and that Delta concerns are considered, and ultimately, accommodated.

One of our essential players in getting to this critical junction is Restore the Delta.  Restore the Delta has effectively and efficiently kept Delta interests at the forefront of the conversation and responded to the constant stream of misinformation provided by certain water export interests.  Please attend/help sponsor the Restore the Delta Fundraiser on May 29th at Wine and Roses.  More information here:  https://www.restorethedelta.org/halfway-home-delta-communities-stronger-together-is-may-29/

Thanks again and I look forward to working with you to finally get to Zero Tunnels soon!

Cheers,
Osha

Osha R. Meserve 
Soluri Meserve
510 8th Street
Sacramento, CA 95814