The Year in Review


Happy Holidays to you and your family!
stcda-holidays

2019 was a big year for Save the California Delta Alliance because the hard work of 2018 and prior years paid off.

In summary:

  • After an eight-year epic battle we defeated the twin tunnels.
    • In December of 2018 the Department of Water Resources (DWR) was forced to withdraw one of its tunnel permit requests in hearings before the Delta Stewardship Council. (Our legal counsel, Michael Brodsky, and the witness testimonies he brought forth were extensively quoted in these wins.)
    • When Gov. Newsom suggested a single tunnel earlier this year, the DWR tried to argue that a single tunnel somehow magically solved all of our objections.
    • But in May, DWR threw in the towel completely. They canceled all project approvals and tossed (de-certified) the deeply flawed EIR, which is exactly what we sought in our lawsuit.
  • However, efforts continue with design studies that include the same through-Delta route. We expect their new larger single tunnel EIR may still:
    • Pose construction destruction throughout the Delta.
    • Pose unmitigable impacts to boating and highways.
    • Ignore the science about how to save the fish and water quality in the Delta.

The fight will continue in 2020. We cannot be complacent. Fighting back takes time, money, and perseverance.

Read the details below. And please continue to support our efforts to save the Delta we all love and call home. Donate what you can and keep an eye out for notices of our town hall meetings and other events. You can donate here:



Read more below . . .

After an eight-year epic battle we defeated the twin tunnels

After an eight-year epic battle we defeated the twin tunnels, first called the BDCP and then later re-named California WaterFix.

True to its name, the fix was in for WaterFix from the beginning and state officials pushed ahead with the project and seemingly no amount of evidence that it was a disaster for the Delta could dissuade them. Then the tide began to turn in November of 2018 when Delta Alliance and several of its allies, including Contra Costa, San Joaquin, and Sacramento Counties, the Delta Protection Commission, and the City of Stockton challenged the tunnels in front of the Delta Stewardship Council. See Delta Alliance’s slide presentations to the Council here.

The evidence was so overwhelming that the Council’s staff made a determination that WaterFix violated the Delta Plan! This was a huge success because no project can get underway in the Delta that violates the main “Delta Plan.” The 150 page determination quoted extensively from Delta Alliance’s evidence presented by our Legal Council, Michael Brodsky, and from testimony of Delta Alliance Board Member Bill Wells and Delta Alliance Member Captain Frank Morgan. Read the Council’s determination here.

Rather than face a humiliating final vote of the Council’s seven members, DWR withdrew its permit request in December of 2018 and said it would make revisions and come back and try again.

Through 2018, Delta Alliance was fighting the tunnels on several fronts, including the hearings at the Council, separate hearings before the State Water Resources Control Board on DWR’s water rights permit, and in Sacramento Superior Court in our challenge to the WaterFix EIR. It was a busy time.

It was obvious that DWR’s defeat at the Council was the beginning of the end for WaterFix and that the project simply could not survive scrutiny. But Governor Brown pushed ahead nevertheless; perhaps for him and his dream of completing his father’s vision of the State Water Project a Hail Mary attempt at continuing the court fight was better than admitting defeat.

This year:

When Governor Brown departed and Governor Newsom took office in January of 2019, Governor Newsom saw the handwriting on the wall. In his February State of the State Address he pulled the plug on WaterFix and announced he would pursue a smaller single tunnel instead.

This gave DWR cover to throw in the towel in the court case. In May of 2019, DWR surrendered by taking all the steps that Delta Alliance demanded in our lawsuit. Read our complaint, which is a good history of the whole tunnels saga, filed in Sacramento Superior Court in August of 2017, here. DWR canceled all project approvals and tossed (de-certified) the deeply flawed EIR. DWR promised to pay more attention to Delta construction impacts in planning for a single tunnel and to obey the law in the new EIR do-over.

In parallel, there are efforts to move the single tunnel plan ahead by a separate design studies authority given to the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority (DCA), an entity formed last year comprised solely of state water contractors, half representing L.A.’s Metropolitan Water District. If you remember, in May 2018 when the DCA was formed, the new President of the Board, Tony Estremera, was absolutely beaming at the prospects of digging up the Delta and stated, “We look forward to a nice long, long period of construction.”

The new single tunnel project hasn’t been written, but they are proceeding assuming the prior tunnel route is still in play, which means all of our concerns about the serious impacts to our roads, waterways, farms, legacy towns, and the Delta communities are unchanged.

What is the timing?

Governor Newsom is pushing hard to get the single tunnel approved and built, but our victory against the twin tunnels means that he has to repeat the whole process, which will take about three years. We will challenge him at every step of the way. And if the state gets that far, and approves a new single tunnel, we will file suit again. We cannot be complacent. Fighting back takes time, money, and perseverance.

What do we need to do in 2020?

We must keep fighting and leave no stone unturned. Much of our victory against the twin tunnels was due to the excellent expert testimony we submitted. We hired an acoustical engineer, a structural engineer, a hydrologist, a freshwater ecologist, and a traffic engineer to testify in the various hearings. These folks need to be paid and it was your donations that paid them. Thank you.

Please continue to support our efforts to save the Delta we all love and call home. Donate what you can and keep an eye out for notices of our town hall meetings and other events. You can donate here:

Please Donate



or by mailing a check made out to STCDA to:

    STCDA
    P.O. Box 1760
    Discovery Bay, CA 94505.

STCDA is a non-profit 501(c)3 dedicated to maintaining a healthy Delta for fish, farmers, communities, and boating & recreation.

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