San Diego Pushes Back on Delta Tunnels Proposal

For Immediate Release: 11/16/16
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, 209-479-2053,

San Diego Water Leader Questions Delta Tunnels Backers
Why ignore region’s water sustainability projects?

Stockton, CA – Yesterday, San Diego County Water Authority’s General Manager, Maureen Stapleton, sent a letter to CA Natural Resources Secretary John Laird asserting that Dr. David Sunding’s economic analysis for the Delta Tunnels project “may significantly overstate Southern California’s future demand for water from the Bay-Delta.”
Ms. Stapleton’s letter explains that Dr. Sunding’s economic analysis used water planning assumptions from Metropolitan Water District’s 2015 Integrated Resources Plan (IRP) regarding the need for San Francisco Bay-Delta water. However, as Ms. Stapleton points out, MWD’s 2015 IRP only included local projects that were recently completed or under construction. In other words, MWD’s Integrated Resources Plan “…ignores the reality that MWD’s member agencies plan to develop hundreds of thousands of more local water supplies over the next 25 years.”
This incomplete data source in Dr. Sunding’s analysis skews Southern California water demand, creating inflated needs and economic benefits for the Delta Tunnels project.
Restore the Delta’s executive director, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla said:
“San Diego County Water Authority is a shining example of a water district working to lessen its dependence on the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary, and is, thereby, following the mandate of the 2009 Delta Reform Act by reducing its dependence on water exports. As they point out in their letter, there are many more cost effective ways to secure water supply for Southern California.
“The $17 billion is nothing more than a down payment on what the tunnels will actually cost. The state is only budgeting $500 million per construction mile, for a total of 70 tunnel miles worth of construction. In comparison, the Seattle Tunnels project has cost several billion per mile to construct, and is years behind schedule. Moreover, Delta Tunnels planners have yet to complete 10 percent of the geotechnical data gathering needed by contractors to determine how much construction for the project will really cost. Plus, they are trying to push contractors to assume the risk and liability for accidents that could put the dozen tunnel boring machines out of commission during construction.
“The Delta Tunnels are a half-baked engineering and financial proposal that has yet to satisfy permitting criteria with the EPA. The people of Southern California will be on the hook for billions of dollars of debt for a project that creates no new water. It is time for Governor Brown’s administration to get serious about real water solutions for California in response to climate change.”

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