What happens next?

After nine years working to stop the Delta Tunnel project, when the Department of Water Resources (DWR) withdrew their request to the Delta Stewardship Council to certify the Tunnel plan last week, our first response was “We won!” Especially since the Delta Stewardship Council Staff agreed with our appeal about the tunnel construction damage and long-term water quality issues.

But we couldn’t help but wonder what it all means.


In her letter, DWR Director Karla Nemeth referred only to Council Chairman Randy Fiorini’s statement that DWR “filed its Certification of Consistency before it was ready to demonstrate consistency with the Delta Plan” as the reason DWR made the withdrawal. She did not mention the Staff’s agreement with our appeal or the issues raised about the tunnels.

Yes, the Council Staff agreed with our appeal and said the tunnels were not consistent with the Delta Plan. But in the DWR letter, Nemeth didn’t say she agreed with Fiorini or refer at all to the opposition’s claims.

Just the opposite. Nemeth stated that the DWR “firmly believes the timing was appropriate,” a “thorough record had been prepared,” and that “WaterFix is consistent with the Delta Plan Policies.” Instead, DWR’s reason for withdrawing is “unresolved issues related to the interpretation of the requirements of the Delta Reform Act and Delta Plan Policies,” (i.e., just a technicality).

The optimistic of us would say Nemeth was just “saving face” for the DWR and we hope the DWR will take their tunnel plan and slink away into the night.

However, Nemeth also requested that the Council dismiss all appeals of the WaterFix certification of consistency. And the Council did just that.

The whole thing sounds sneaky to me. Maybe because we know Karla’s husband is executive strategist with the Metropolitan Water District, the group financing the tunnel plan. I don’t hear DWR admitting that the Tunnel Plan is terrible for the Delta, only that there’s some minor unresolved issues.

So what does that mean?
I asked our Legal Council about it. Michael Brodsky said it would have been better for us to go forward to the hearings on December 20-21 and have a formal decision sustaining our appeal. Instead now, our appeal has been dismissed and there was nothing we could do to stop it.

So while we’re still happy that it was a big setback for the tunnels, by dismissing the appeals they may be trying to limit the damage to the tunnel plan.

We just have to see what happens next.

And to be prepared for what happens next, we are in our Holiday Season Fundraising mode and appreciate any year-end donations you’d like to make.

Please donate . . .

We’re a 501(c)3 non-profit so all donations are tax-deductible.

STCDA is an all-voluntary organization and does not, nor does it anticipate, paying board members salaries or wages or legal council fees.

Or make checks payable to “STCDA” and mail to:

    P.O. Box 1760
    Discovery Bay, CA 94505

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