Single Delta Tunnel Planning Begins with “Notice of Preparation”; Reaction from Restore the Delta

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From Restore the Delta • January 15, 2020 • STOCKTON, CA – Planning for a single tunnel through the San Francisco Bay-Delta, formally began today as the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) released its Delta Conveyance Notice of Preparation. The document begins the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the “Delta Conveyance Project.”

DWR’s notice today acknowledges that the proposed single tunnel is a new project, not a continuation of the Twin Tunnels permitting process. For comparison of timelines, the previous (now dead) Twin Tunnels planning process began under Governor Schwarzenegger.

Reaction from Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director, Restore the Delta: 

“We are disappointed that the notice of preparation for the Delta tunnel project was released today because: 

• A tunnel wont resolve the drought problems coming with climate change and will not bring water use and available water into reconciliation. (We still promise more water to users than actually exists.)

• A Bay-Delta Water Quality Plan has not been implemented, and the proposed models for the Voluntary Agreements to set flows into and through the Delta reveal less available freshwater for the estuary.

• The Newsom administration has not yet filed its lawsuit against the Trump administration’s corrupted biological opinions, the rules for how water export pumps operate to protect fish. 

• Water quality issues around pollution, discharge from the San Joaquin River, and the growth of Harmful Algal Blooms in the Delta have not been resolved. 

• The California Aqueduct is sinking as a result of groundwater pumping by big agricultural users according to a report released by the Department of Water Resources on December 31, 2019 and will require costly repairs on top of the costs for the tunnel.

• A tunnel does not protect the Delta’s 4 million people from extreme flood threat from climate change. “We have consistently maintained that regional sustainability projects found in Governor Newsom’s Water Resilience Portfolio should be prioritized to reduce dependence on Delta water exports before moving forward with the tunnel.  Instead, we have crucial Delta needs once again taking a backseat to a project that Californians do not want – especially on the heels of the Trump water plan.”

Read the Notice of Preparation

Public scoping meeting schedule (including Walnut Grove on 2/10/20 and Clarksburg 2/19/20)