One of the big complaints of the Delta Plan and related processes for “fixing” the Delta is the lack of alternatives being evaluated and presented.
The current plan being advocated by Gov. Brown and the BDCP is the huge massive twin tunnels to export 4 million gallons of water per hour from the Sacramento River to send South which would move the water around the Delta instead of flowing through it. The amount of water the tunnels could remove is basically all of the fresh water from the Sacramento River which would leave the Delta farms and communities surrounded only by brackish, stagnant water – not exactly an environmentally friendly situation.
Mary Piepho, Contra Costa County Supervisor, expressed her concerns last week in a KCBS San Francisco Radio Interview.
Contra Costa Supervisor Worries Gov’s Plan Would Divert Too Much Water To SoCal
“Brown’s nearly $24 billion tunnel system would divert water from farmland and cities.” “They’re focusing on the delta specifically to resolve greater statewide problems. The delta simply does not have the supply, the capacity or the ecosystem to withstand that sort of pressure,” Piepho said. Click here to read the entire article and hear the radio interview first-hand.
This week environmental groups proposed an alternative to the two massive tunnels called the “‘Portfolio-Based’ Single Peripheral Tunnel Proposal” which would export less water than the BDCP plan and still pump some water from the existing Tracy pumps in the South Delta. While this does result in some fresh water flowing through the Delta, Save the California Delta Alliance (STCDA) does not deem that as a viable alternative since it means exporting more water from the already stressed Delta.
The Restore the Delta response to the Single Tunnel Proposal was “We maintain that the best way to restore the Delta is to improve levees to the highest standard, to add habitat to those wide upgraded levees, to restore flows in and through the Delta, to screen the existing pumps properly, in addition to promoting regional self-sufficiency for water development in other parts of the state. If the existing pumps at Tracy remain in use, and a 3000 cfs tunnel is added at Hood, the total export capacity from the Delta would remain at 6 million acre feet. You cannot restore the Delta by taking that much water out of it.”
STCDA response to the Delta Plan calls for the Delta Stewardship Council to consider other alternatives besides the massive tunnels which to-date have been the sole focus of Governor Brown and the BDCP. Thursday the Contra Costa County Supervisors formally called for a wider range of options to be studied.
There are better alternatives. STCDA suggests evaluating better use of spring water runoff, which now overflows into the Yolo Bypass and various Weirs and is not recovered, and instead piping it south to re-charge central valley aquifers. A new proposal has been suggested to build a reservoir on Sherman Island in the West Delta and pipe water from there to the Tracy pumps, thus allowing the fresh water to first flow through the Delta. Proposals have long existed to restore the Tulare Lake basin. And of course water conservation, retiring toxic farmlands that leach salt and selenium, and a plan for regional self-sufficiency seem like the most obvious first steps.
Destroying the Delta can’t be the only alternative for the state’s water issues.
Don’t forget to Save the Date for the STCDA Town Hall Meeting on Delta Water including a free showing of Restore the Delta’s acclaimed movie “Over Troubled Waters.”