Coalition files protest against Delta Conveyance water diversion application that would cause irreversible harm to Delta ecosystem and its people


May 14, 2024


Eric Buescher, Managing Attorney, San Francisco Baykeeper, 510.671.5402,

Stephanie Safdi, Clinical Supervising Attorney, Environmental Law Clinic/Mills Legal Clinic, Stanford Law School, 513-324-1965,

Sacramento, Calif – A broad coalition of California tribes, nonprofits, environmental organizations, and commercial fishing groups have filed a protest with the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), calling on the denial of the Delta Conveyance Project (DCP) Change in Point of Diversion (CPOD) Petition.


For sixty years, California politicians have proposed to divert water from the Bay-Delta and pump, tunnel, or transport it for other uses in other places throughout the state. And for sixty years, the science has demonstrated that such plans will harm fish and wildlife, communities, and people.

The current Delta Conveyance Project (“DCP,” “Tunnel,” or “Project”) proposal is no different. Pushed forward by politicians in plain contravention of the best available science, the continued drive to take more and more from the Delta—more of its water, more of its history, more of its culture—must be rejected by the State Water Resources Control Board (“State Water Board” or “Board”), so that the fate of Tribes, communities, and ecosystems are not left to the whims of political power brokers.

The Board should deny the Petition because it is unlawful and not in the public interest. The Project would cause unreasonable impacts to water quality and to fish and wildlife in the Sacramento River and San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (“Bay-Delta”) estuary, significant harm to the Bay-Delta environment, irreparable injury to tribal cultural resources and tribal beneficial uses, damage to public trust resources, further injury to already impacted coastal and inland fisheries, and a host of unacceptable adverse impacts to Delta Tribes and communities. It is also effectively a new water right application, as DWR has lost any entitlement to divert in the amount contemplated for the DCP under its 1972 permits. And it injures legal users of water, including unadjudicated reserved rights of Tribes.

The undersigned Protestors represent a diverse range of interests, from sovereign Tribes to a host of non-profit organizations representing environmental justice, environmental, fishing, and other public interests. The Bay-Delta ecosystem and the people and wildlife that live with and depend on it will be irreversibly harmed by construction and operation of the Tunnel; indeed, the impacts of the Tunnel that will be felt throughout the state and for all time. The Water Board should reject the Application.

Protestant Coalition Listed in Protest (available for interviews):

  • Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians
  • Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians
  • Winnemem Wintu Tribe
  • Little Manila Rising
  • Restore the Delta
  • California Indian Environmental Alliance
  • Golden State Salmon Association
  • Institute for Fisheries’ Resources
  • Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations
  • San Francisco Baykeeper 

Quotes From Protestants:

Jesse Galvan, THPO Coordinator, Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians

“The Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians values their cultural heritage and traditional ceremonies. However, mismanagement of water resources and lack of understanding of traditions threaten their cultural resources. Waterways are vital for their spiritual practices, fishing, hunting, and agriculture. It’s crucial to protect water resources to ensure the continuation of Native American cultural practices and the survival of their communities.”

Vice Chair Malissa Tayaba, Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians: 

“The Water Board must reject DWR’s newest scheme to divert more water from our Bay-Delta ecosystem. The injurious impacts of mismanagement in the Bay-Delta can no longer be endured by Tribes and Delta communities.”

Gary Mulcahy, Government Liaison for Winnemem Wintu Tribe:

“Despite Tribe after Tribe, Citizen after Citizen, Organization after Organization and Agency after Agency telling DWR and Governor Newsom that the Delta Conveyance Project (Delta Tunnel) will hurt the environment, the Delta, and endangered fish species, they still want to spend your $16 billion dollars to build it. Who is running this State anyways, the People or them?”

Gloria E. Alonso Cruz, Environmental Justice Advocacy Coordinator, Little Manila Rising:

“The Delta Conveyance Project is a large-scale water diversion infrastructure that neglects the foreseen climate needs of recognized Disadvantaged Communities (DACs). These communities are interconnected by the waterways. The Project has failed to recognize this adequately, nor has it established long-overdue protections before proposing the project. Healthy ecosystems are necessary to cultivate healthy and thriving communities in California’s largest estuary.”

Cintia Cortez, Policy Analyst, Restore the Delta: 

“Marginalized urban Delta communities that are most vulnerable to impacts from degraded waterways will be disproportionately affected by the planning, construction, and operation of the Delta Conveyance Project. The Delta currently experiences toxic blooms in summer, dying fisheries, and prevents communities from safely accessing recreation areas. The Delta Conveyance threatens community-led efforts intended to restore communities’ connection to the Delta waterways.”

Scott Artis, Executive Director, Golden State Salmon Association:
“Well, I never thought I’d see the day when the proposed solution to the state’s fourth salmon season closure is the ultimate salmon repellent – the Delta Tunnel project. Because what better way to address declining salmon populations than by draining their homes? Bravo, Governor, for turning healthy rivers and estuaries into a punchline that harms tens of thousands of families, businesses and employees across California and Oregon.”

Jon Rosenfield, Science Director, SF Baykeeper:

“For sixty years, California politicians have plotted to divert more of the Sacramento River’s flow to industrial agriculture and distant cities before that fresh water reaches the Delta and San Francisco Bay. And for sixty years, science has demonstrated that such a diversion would devastate fisheries, wildlife, water quality, and the communities that depend on the services provided by flowing rivers. Governor Newsom’s Delta Tunnel is not a new idea, and it’s not a climate adaptation, it’s just the latest version of a plain old water grab.” 

Lisa Damrosch, Executive Director- PCFFA and Institute for Fisheries Resources (IFR) 

“For generations, California’s commercial fishermen have been stewards of our oceans, harvesting sustainable, local salmon to nourish our communities. The Delta Conveyance project threatens this heritage, diverting vital water, imperiling salmon populations, and jeopardizing a crucial food source and the future of California’s coastal economies. The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA) staunchly opposes actions that disregard best available science and neglect to acknowledge the profound consequences of altering our waterways, which will impact both wildlife and human life for generations to come.”


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