Important Milestones DWR is conveniently forgetting


A California Department of Water Resources (DWR) Scoping Meeting Slide:

Some of us would like to start with some earlier milestones:

  • June 8, 1982 – The voters soundly reject the California Proposition 9, the Peripheral Canal Act.
  • August 27, 2014 – DWR announce postponement of the BDCP Tunnels due to comments received. “The comments revealed that certain areas of the plan need additional study.”
  • August 28, 2014 – The EPA submits a 43-page report warning that the Delta Tunnels could violate Federal law.”
  • July 10, 2015 – Revised BDCP Plan (now called the “California Water Fix”) was released with only the Tunnel portion. Another plan, “EcoRestore” is the habitat restoration plan. [Comment: Has anyone heard anything about EcoRestore in the last five years? Crickets.]

Ah well, bygones. The list of key milestones presented by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) at the beginning of each of their Single Tunnel Scoping Meetings begins:

  • July 2017 – DWR approved a two-tunnel conveyance project (California WaterFix).
  • February 2019 – Gov. Newsom announced support for a single tunnel conveyance project.

Wait a minute here. That leaves out some very pertinent milestones.

  • November 2018 – The Delta Stewardship Council Staff recommended that WaterFix failed to meet the requirements to be incorporated into the Delta Plan. The certification for the Delta Plan was a requirement before DWR could obtain their permit for the tunnel intakes in the north. The plan should be remanded to DWR to fix. This was a big win for STCDA and others. Why did the Staff say not to sign off on WaterFix?
    • DWR didn’t use the latest “Best Available Science.”
    • The water suppliers hadn’t addressed “Reduce Reliance on the Delta through Improved Regional Water Self- Reliance.”
    • California WaterFix will have a significant adverse environmental impact.
    • WaterFix desn’t meet the Delta flow objectives.
    • And the biggie: WaterFix conflicts with land uses in existing Delta communities, conflicts with existing land uses due to impacts on cultural and historical resources, conflicts with existing Delta parks and recreation uses, traffic impacts, and conflicts with existing land uses due to noise impacts.

    The Staff recommended that the Council remand the matter to the Department for reconsideration.

  • December 2018 – Rather than wait for WaterFix to be officially ruled as “inconsistent” with the Delta Plan (hence unable to be built), DWR withdrew its certification request.

They ignored those two major milestones, significant wins for STCDA.

Then yes, in May 2019 DWR finally withdrew WaterFix. Up until that time, DWR had still been trying to pretend one tunnel would “fix” the problems with the twin tunnels and trying to move forward without writing a new plan or new Environmental Impact Report (EIR). But taken before a judge, it was clear that DWR couldn’t have it both ways. The DWR finally accepted the fact that they would need to write a new plan and a new EIR. In January they issued the Single Tunnel Notice of Preparation.

But wait . . . they didn’t “rewrite” the plan. The new plan has the same issues as the old, rejected plan. How does simply going from two tunnels to one solve the problems? Unless the Eastern Corridor is selected, all of the in-Delta impacts remain the same. And regardless of tunnel route, the impacts to the legacy communities in the North have not been corrected.

As far as “Reduced Reliance on the Delta through Improved Regional Self-Sufficiency,” a tunnel will never do that. A tunnel will increase reliance.

For L.A. to improve regional self-sufficiency, there needs to be a ten-year goal to stop pumping Delta water up over the Tehachapis to L.A. The State Water Project is the biggest consumer of electricity in the state yet, ironically, a priority of the Single Tunnel objectives to address climate change. The Delta water should be replaced with desalination, recycling, and conservation, such as replacing L.A.’s lawns with drought-resistant landscaping.

The Central Valley can reduce reliance on the Delta by desalination for Santa Barbara which now uses Delta water pumped over the coastal range. Some have proposed pumping ocean salt water pumped to the Central Valley to desalination plants there. There are plenty of areas in the Central Valley with damaged land laced with salts and selenium. More salt from a desalination plant will not be an environmental issue there. But of course, the Central Valley’s biggest issue is the loss of their aquifers. The Tulare Lake used to provide a natural percolation pond effect for those wells. At times of high rain, we should implement an approach to recharge ground water. Santa Clara Valley Water District has a good approach using Vasona Lake (water from Lexington Reservoir) as both a percolation pond and a nice park. A Tulare Lake replacement is needed. And, of course, a logical change would be to better manage what crops are right to be grown in the arid desert land there instead of orchards and almonds. To quote Dr. Michael, “As water becomes more scarce, but it may be less costly and more efficient to move crops, farm workers, and capital to more water rich locations in the Valley than it is to move water long distances out of watersheds.”

There are better alternatives to a tunnel that need to be evaluated.

1 Response to “Important Milestones DWR is conveniently forgetting”


  1. 1 armstrongj1@outlook.com February 23, 2020 at 8:36 pm

    Jan – you seem to have some solid well-worded points here! I hope the pro-aggies wait to hear these instead of shove the tunnel down everyone’s throat with trump’s help.

    Comments to your points:

    * “ . . . replacing L.A.’s lawns with drought-resistant landscaping.” Hell yes! Albuquerque had to do it, per enforced city law! Whole areas of the city are now nearly treeless and lawnless, looks better actually with much more conversion to adobe home architectural to match living in a desert. LA needs to be forced to sacrifice swimming pools at least. * “Santa Barbara which now uses Delta water pumped over the coastal range” – At the CalDesal convention earlier this month in Santa Barbara I’m pretty sure the city engineer said they use no SWP water now, getting 30% from their ocean desal, and the rest from Lake Cachuma and unelaborated other sources.

    More so than LA, the core evil here is coming from mccarthy, mcclintock, nuñez, trump and stewart & lynda resnick all being totally devoted to domestic & foreign agribiz EXPORTS and the bribery money from it.


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