On December 19, the BDCP released an announcement of refinements to the BDCP plan. Also more information was provided on the revisions to expect in 2015 to the EIR/EIS.
The Sacramento Bee reported in their front-page article, Pumps dropped from Delta Water Tunnel Plan, that there was a new “switch to gravity intakes meant to ease local concerns” and went on to say that the major design change was made aimed at appeasing local residents: The three intakes planned on the Sacramento River will no longer require pumps. Instead of giant electric pumps, the plan now calls for water to enter the three huge intakes by gravity flow. This, in turn, means most tall buildings can be eliminated at each intake. Thus the multi-story buildings at the site of the intakes that were going to be a major eyesore for the quaint delta towns of Clarksburg and Walnut Grove, were now going to be single-story. And there will be no need for permanent new high-voltage power lines.
That sounds like progress – right?
All along the BDCP claimed that they needed the larger 40 foot wide tunnels because the plan was to use gravity feed. Gravity feed required, they said, a wider diameter pipe than pumps. Their plan was to use gravity feed and save money.
The concern raised by Delta proponents was that 40 foot wide tunnels can siphon off 15,000 cubic feet/second (CFS) (the entire Sacramento River) instead of the proposed maximum 9K CFS but the BDCP said no, we are using these oversized tunnels because we are planning gravity feed to reduce pumping costs and electricity. We were all still worried because it wouldn’t cost that much additional to add pumps and electricity later to expand the amount of water extracted.
Note: Even 9K CFS is much more than the SWRCB/Bay Institute reported was available according to their 2008 Delta Flows report. In addition, this year’s scathing review of the BDCP by the EPA stated that the BDCP plan includes extracting much more water than is viable for a healthy Delta.
Now the BDCP is announcing this “new” plan and are saying they are removing the pumps and are going with gravity.
Did the plan previously “sneak” in sufficient pumps and power to enable them to extract more? I had understood that to do that they would need more money to add the pumps later (and figured that would be their next ploy).
Or am I missing why these big pumps and power lines were there originally??? Because this all sounds like switch and bait to me. There’s not enough money to pay for the pumps now so they’ll wait and add those later.
Regardless, bottom line, these changes to the BDCP do nothing to eliminate the major objections to the Delta Tunnels. In fact, they only raise more questions.