The BDCP is proposing altering the tunnel path which they say is to reduce the impact on the farming towns and farmers in the north. Some changes were announced as improvements on the impacts on the towns of Hood, Courtland, Clarksburg and possibly Walnut Grove. For example, the pumping station will be 30 feet high instead of 60 feet, slightly lessoning the impact on those town’s scenic views but still over 3 stories high.
The BDCP’s new plan is to leave less tunnel muck in the Delta and now Daniel Wilson, the farmer who was threatened to lose his home and fruit packing plants, is out of danger. But Wilson was quoted in the Sacramento Bee as still opposing the project because of other fundamental changes it poses, including altered Sacramento River flows and water quality, and disruption of roads, traffic and scenery.
Some believe it was motivated more by the need to reduce costs to keep the contractors involved. The new plan cuts the total path from 35 miles to 30 miles and reduces some of the acreage mitigation costs from muck storage by finding uses for it (a new release claims muck will now be “reusable tunnel material”).
THE BAD NEWS:
There is no change in the route through the South Delta. The plan will still cut the South Delta in half impacting marinas, restaurants, boating and recreation. The new route goes through Staten Island, the 9,100-acre island between two forks of the Mokelumne River that California taxpayers spent $32 million to preserve the island as wildlife habitat and may be a disaster for sandhill cranes. While the new plan removes some of the muck areas, there is now an even bigger muck pond shown south of Discovery Bay.
In addition, the long-term water quality issues, salmon issues, and other negative impacts from the tunnels remain.