Delta Tunnels EIR: What Do We Know So Far?

For Immediate Release: Tuesday September 29, 2015
Brian Smith, 415/320-9384,
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, 209/479-2053

Experts Reading Delta Tunnels EIR (48K Pages),
Express Concerns
Final Month for Public Comments

NOTE: Osha Meserve and Jeff Michael Statements have been updated!

Sacramento, CA – Today, Restore the Delta held a teleconference with a panel of experts reading through the 48,000 page EIR/EIS for the proposed Delta Tunnels Project (formerly known as the Bay Delta Conservation Plan).
Californians now have just one month left to submit comments on the Environmental Impact Report for the proposed Delta Tunnels project. The comment period ends on October 30, 2015.

Public Comments on the Delta EIR/EIS can be submitted to:
BDCP/California WaterFix Comments
P.O. Box 1919
Sacramento, CA 95812

This project will cost California tax and ratepayers between $15 and $60 billion — one of California’s largest public investments to date. And there will be no public vote. On a media teleconference today, academics and Delta experts who are reading through the (now 48,000 page) Environmental Impact Report, shared what they have discovered about this controversial project.
For contact information of speakers, please contact Brian Smith 415-320-9384
Here are quotes from each of the speakers
Jeffrey Michael Ph.D. – Director, Center for Business and Policy Research, University of the Pacific: on Water Yields, Economics and Missing Alternatives

First, an EIR must describe the project accurately.  The Delta Tunnels EIR/EIS describes a project that is not economically or financially feasible due to its minimal water yields.  Specifically, the EIR/EIS describes water exports with the $16 billion tunnels will only average about 250,000 acre feet more each year than under No Action. 
That’s about 16,000 acre feet of unreliable, untreated water per $1 billion of capital cost, and incredibly low return on investment.  For comparison, the highest cost alternatives like desalination plants deliver over 50,000 acre feet of highly reliable, purified water for the same capital investment.  

Full Statement
Robert Wright, Senior Counsel – Friends of the River: on the Tunnels plan and endangered species
The Delta Water Tunnels would instead destroy endangered and threatened fish species. The Tunnels would divert for the Central Valley and State Water Projects vast quantities of freshwater from the Sacramento River near Clarksburg that would no longer flow through the lower Sacramento River, sloughs, and Delta. This would jeopardize the continued existence of endangered and threatened species of fish and adversely modify their designated critical habitat by taking away freshwater flows for Winter Run Chinook salmon, spring-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, green Sturgeon, and Delta smelt.
Full Statement
Osha Meserve – North Delta Water rights attorney: on Agencies Forging Forward with Key Permits while Environmental Review Still Underway

Signaling their commitment to a deeply flawed project, the project rushed forward with its major water right and wetland fill permit applications this month.  In its submittal to the State Water Resources Control Board, tunnel applicants claimed they owned the roughly forty parcels of land necessary to construct the three tunnels that can convey 9000 cubic feet per second of water.  Keep in mind the highest the river has flowed near the proposed tunnel intakes is 8400 cfs this month.  Later, after we pointed out the error, DWR submitted an errata sheet and tried to excuse its misrepresentations because the form was not usable for a project this large.  DWR also had to amend its application to show that every water user in the Delta – over three thousand water rights — may be injured by the project from the changes in water quality, quantity and levels the project will cause.

Full Statement
Tim Stroshane – Water policy analyst, Restore the Delta: on the Tunnels impact on water quality

­­Harmful algal blooms are expected to increase due to the Tunnels, consuming most or all dissolved oxygen in the water, and suffocating oxygen-respiring organisms like fish. Blue-green algae, such as one species called Microcystis, can also produce “cyanotoxins” that pose a significant potential threat to wildlife, dogs, and human beings, and exposure can cause liver cancer in humans. Tunnels' reports acknowledge that “increases in the frequency, magnitude, and geographic extent of Microcystis blooms in the Delta would occur relative to Existing Conditions,” increasing a dangerous ecological and public health threat.
Full Statement
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director – Restore the Delta: on Politics vs. Sustainability in the Tunnels Plan

This repackaging of the Delta tunnels will waste up to $60 billion dollars without creating any new water, won’t help desperate communities during the drought, or fund innovative water conservation, stormwater capture, or water recycling projects that cities are eager to build for resilience in a changing climate.
Californians now face a huge decision. Should we commit $60 (after bond repayment and operation costs are considered) to construct twin 40 foot-wide, 35 mile-long, tunnels to export what water is left for almonds for export and speculative development – in the year 2031?  Or are we going to protect the most magnificent and important estuary on the west coast of the Americas?
Governor Brown has inherited a legacy project from his father that was created on flawed logic – an overextended water supply, even back in the 1960s.  With climate change, snowpack will continue to diminish in the Sacramento River watershed and more rain will fall at the coast.  Instead of continuing to cling stubbornly to this flawed family legacy, Governor Brown needs to do the right thing for the future of the state he loves. He needs to drop the tunnels project once and for all, and use his office to create a Marshall plan for water sustainability for all Californians, not just mega growers in Westlands and the Kern County Water District, and certainly not for the Metropolitan Water District.

Full Statement


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