Tunnel Planning First? California Resources Agency Failing to Address Immediate Issues

For Immediate Release: 5/18/20

Contact: Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, 209-479-2053, barbara@restorethedelta.org

Stockton, CA – This March, during the early days of the pandemic, Restore the Delta and local partner organizations sent a letter to urge the Central Valley Regional Flood Protection Board (a California Resources Agency department) to pull from its agenda an approval for a “statement of no objection,” requested by the Department of Water Resources,  for transmittal to the US Army Corps of Engineers for starting its 408 process for DWR’s proposed Delta Conveyance Project (DCP) “Delta Tunnel.” Central Delta Water Agency sent a similar letter here.

Restore the Delta asked the Flood Board to delay public information hearings due to the pandemic, and explained that a “statement of no objection” to the proposed Delta Tunnel plan was premature in the absence of comprehensive plans for long-term Delta levee protection and mitigation of, and adaptation to, Delta sea-level rise.

The Central Valley Regional Flood Protection Board decided in response to robust public response of a delay at the March meeting that it would place the item on the April agenda.  The item was not included in the April agenda. Now, the CVRFPB is floating a draft “statement of no objection” letter once again, without circling back to the Delta community for full and robust input. The draft letter by the CVRFPB can be read here.

The Board’s return to simply drafting language for approval tells us that public participation will require Delta residents once again having to rally to oppose state actions that fail to address Delta community needs, rather than being given the time to give thoughtful input to the need for comprehensive levee protection in response to Delta sea level rise, storm surge, and river flooding concerns.

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director for Restore the Delta, commented:

“At this point, we do not believe that most department and boards under the California Resources Agency umbrella, will ever keep their word to the people of the Delta. We have had numerous meetings, produced reports, sent letters, and have requested repeatedly that essential issues to the health of the estuary and Delta communities, like levee planning, should be considered and analyzed in relation to the tunnel and at least given robust planning attention if the state is going to move forward with the tunnel.  But the only actions taken repeatedly by related Resources Agency entities are actions that support the direction of the Department of Water Resources.

“The Delta related departments and regulatory boards only exert their authority to rubber stamp the wishes and desires of DWR and the State Water Contractors in pursuit of a tunnel. Flood threat to environmental justice communities in South Stockton and the entire Delta needs to be dealt with now, not when they feel like fitting the topic in while pushing through a Delta tunnel, especially with tighter funding options due to the pandemic.

“Actions speak louder than words. Secretary Crowfoot’s words to us have resulted in no action, other than a circling of the wagons of DWR’s tunnel-visioned leadership.” 

Restore the Delta will keep its members posted on steps to be taken at the next Central Valley Flood Protection Board meeting.

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