How the tunnels will save fish – I don’t think so


Our infamous Peter Moyle once again publishes a report, New report claims tunnels could help save native species, that favors the tunnels. Unfortunately, Moyle’s research often seems to be slanted.

Here are my problems with this latest report.

First, Moyle received guidance and direction in this effort by Metropolitan Water District, the agency pushing the tunnels forward.

Second, a great deal of his analysis is based on habitat restoration: “Achieving this goal,” [saving native fish from extinction] “according to the report, will require restoring a great deal of riverside habitat in the northern and western Delta. Saving the native fish, the report says, will also probably require building the Delta tunnels, or something resembling them.”

Third, it is based on the status quo continuing. Boyle claims that “We predicted they’d go extinct if present trends continue,” he said. “The new report is a plan to make present trends not continue.”

But I say, why not first do the obvious. Fish need water. The pumps are exporting too much water. Why not cut back to the levels approved by the legislature and levels dictated by the Delta Flow requirements first? All true scientists agree that is the most likely and safest way to stop their demise and reverse this horrible decline of so many fish species in the Delta.

Then he returns to EcoRestore: Moyle points to the other part of the solution, EcoRestore: “The new report outlines a state-mandated project called EcoRestore, initially introduced several years ago as a mitigation to the Delta tunnels project. EcoRestore would protect or revive about 30,000 acres in the Delta region – mainly floodplain and inter-tidal habitat. ”

The problem? EcoRestore was named and then shelved. There has been no work done on the project, no EIR, no Habitat Conservation Plan, no evaluation, no analysis, no review. In 2014, the state split the BDCP into it’s two halves: EcoRestore (the environmental half) and WaterFix (the tunnel half) and then moved ahead only with WaterFix. There’s no funding, nothing for EcoRestore.

“People know what the fish need,” Moyle said.

He’s right on that. Fish need fresh water. It’s time for the state to start providing that.

Boyle continues: “The status quo is not sustainable; it will result in the likely collapse of many remaining stocks of desirable fishes even with large investment in restoration projects,” the new report warns, referring to the existing water diversion system.

Right again – status quo is not sustainable. Step one is cutting back on exports. No other hocus pocus will accomplish anything.

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