The Eastern Route

As more and more information emerges about the horrible and significant Delta Tunnel construction impacts on the Delta, the question arises, “Why did the DWR pick the through-Delta route for their tunnels?”

It’s hard to believe anyone would plan a major construction project through the heart of the fragile estuary they are committed to protecting. Especially when they have a much better alternative – the Eastern route.


The recent Delta Protection Commission scathing report to the Delta Stewardship Council argues that the California WaterFix (CWF) tunnel construction and resulting facilities are totally inconsistent with the rural aspects of the Delta that make it so unique and worth preserving. The DPC letter points out that the construction facilities and pumping stations “create impacts on Delta communities will be lasting and severe.” Read more from our prior blog: DPC is on our side.

The DWR’s EIR says the construction impacts to the Delta (to communities, recreation and boating, etc.) are “Significant and unavoidable”. But we argue that the 10 plus year construction impacts are avoidable. The destruction to the Delta from this huge construction project, through the fragile estuary and wetlands, under fragile levees, the Santa Fe Railroad trestle, and other infrastructure could be avoided – if they had chosen the Eastern route.

Because of cost, (10 miles, $1 to $1.5 billion) DWR has ignored the risk to levees and infrastructure, waterfowl and communities and chose the through-tunnel route. (Does it sound like the same mistakes DWR made with the Oroville Dam?)

I do not think that any tunnel is cost-justified and since there is no guarantee they will operate the new tunnels (or tunnel) with any more concern to the required delta flows than they have for the past decades, we are sure water quality will continue to degrade and salmon continue to head towards extinction.

BUT . . . if they dig around the Delta, the Eastern Route, they wouldn’t need to clog small rural highways since there’s quick access to/from Highway 5. They wouldn’t go through wetlands, wouldn’t affect legacy towns, wouldn’t shut down boating and recreation. Then the DWR could say they are working to protect the “Delta as a Place.”

How can the DWR have chosen the through-Delta route when one of the co-equal goals was to protect the Delta as a place?

We would still have concerns with a tunnel along the Eastern route, but that route would not destroy the Delta as we know it.



  • CWF – California WaterFix; i.e., the Delta Tunnels
  • DPC – Delta Protection Commission. The good guys representing the Delta as a Place. They are trying to live up to their name and “Protect” the Delta.
  • DSC – Delta Stewardship Council. Responsible for writing the Delta Plan which defines the co-equal goals of:
    (1) Providing reliable exports of water
    (2) Protecting the Delta as a Place.
    The DSC is focused on #1; they are the bad guys when it comes to protecting the Delta as a Place. They are not “Stewards” of the Delta.
  • DWR – California Department of Water Resources. The agency responsible for writing the CWF and will be responsible for building the tunnels. Note: This is the agency that designed and built the Oroville Dam and manages the State Water Project (the export pumps sending Delta water to the Central Valley farmers).

ta Stewardship Council.

2 Responses to “The Eastern Route”

  1. 1 Harold Wiullaimson October 31, 2018 at 10:42 am

    I’m afraid the Eastern route is not a lot better than the one proposed–right through the heart. It still routs water to the south and, even though it originally proposes a barely acceptable amount, we’re all aware the south, over the years, will continue to increase the flow until the Sacramento disappears, jujst as did the Colorado–with no concern for the delta area. Without the flow of the Sacramento, the delta will shrivel and die.

    • 2 Jan October 31, 2018 at 11:12 am

      We are not in support of any tunnel. We are pointing out the total failure of the DWR to do its job protecting the Delta as a Place by choosing the most destructive route possible. This project needs to be rejected and handed back to them. If they are told to start over, they will be out of money and have to look for real solutions.

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