DWR Opposes Local Water Supplies

Developing local water supplies for the state (desalination, recycling, conservation, groundwater recharging) is the only way to meet the Delta Reform Act/Delta Plan goals of “Reduction of reliance on the Delta through regional self-sufficiency.” Yet, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) continues to reject any alternatives or additions to their single tunnel project, leaving the state increasingly dependent on the shrinking Sierra snowpack as the source of water.

This recent post by the California Water Research (CWR) is worth the read: DWR Rejects Consideration of No Tunnel Alternatives. It delves into the No Tunnel Alternative presented by DWR at the July 22, 2020 Stakeholder Engagement Committee Meeting and presents information missing from my last post on why DWR is still rejecting desalination, recycling and conservation efforts, and improving the levees and fish screens to support continued use of existing export facilities.

Here is Alternative 3:

Key points made in the CWR post:

DWR stated that continued use of the current State Water Project (SWP) pumps without a new tunnel did not meet the project objectives of climate resiliency, seismic resiliency, and water supply reliability.

However, CWR points out that:

  • DWR has not defined “climate resiliency” or “seismic resiliency,” so this assessment is qualitative.
  • CWR has pointed out in the past that the tunnel intake locations may be too low to accommodate sea level rise to 2100.
  • And the single tunnel may also not be designed to withstand a maximum earthquake in the Delta.

But in addition … and this is the key point to remember … CWR makes VERY good points why DWR’s stance against the alternative technologies is flawed:

  1. Local water supplies are the ONLY supplies that are truly resilient to long term sea level rise, and may also be the only supplies that would continue to be available after a maximum earthquake in the Delta.
  2. Yet DWR’s definition of “sustainability” is narrowly focused on the reliability of Delta exports.

Garamendi’s Portfolio Plan Solves DWR’s No Tunnel Issues

Circling back to our prior STCDA post, Alternatives to the Tunnel, we noted that the first Alternative DWR presented at the SEC meeting was Garamendi’s “A Plan for All of California” which proposed a much smaller 3,000 cfs pipe (not a tunnel), addressing DWR’s issues with concern about a Delta disaster disrupting water flows, combined with new local technologies. DWR analyzed only the smaller pipe and said, “not enough water, don’t like the location” and failed to add the rest of the Garamendi alternative to the analysis.

It is interesting to note that a very similar plan was proposed by the Delta Counties Coalition years ago including a 3,000 cfs pipe plus additional projects to enhance local supplies.

Clearly DWR is not adequately reviewing alternatives … so nothing has changed.

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