New Delta Tunnel Plan Fails to Follow the Science


Opinion piece in the Mercury News about the new tunnel draft EIR and Newsom’s support for it. It says, “If Newsom wants to keep pressing his tunnel proposal, it’s imperative that he, water districts and environmentalists agree on a set of rules for water diversions from the Sacramento River. Otherwise, there’s no way to determine the environmental impact of the plan.”
Mercury News Editorial: “New Delta Tunnel Plan Fails to Follow the Science.”

But hey, that’s been the problem since 2009, hasn’t it? The legislator in issuing the Delta Reform Act specified step one would be for the newly formed Delta Stewardship Council (DSC) to determine the Delta Flow Requirements, the amount of water that had to be allowed to continue to flow through the Delta to keep the estuary clean. That report was written by the Bay Institute and adopted by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) in August 2010. The state acknowledged the fact that the Delta needed more water than it was currently receiving.

OOPS – Wrong Answer. The report was prepended with a DSC paragraph saying it had not been approved. Not true, I guess. The SWRCB tries periodically to increase the flows but it’s a logo. And everyone admits a tunnel will reduce flows further, or if even kept equal at times, the water coming in would be the polluted San Joaquin River after the Central Valley farms south of the Delta add their farm runoff with fertilizer and selenium from the tainted soils there, not as much of the clean Sacramento River water from the Sierra snow pack runoff. (Plus, this year, once again, what snow pack?)

Round and round we go.

I agree with the article’s conclusion: “State officials must provide more details and analysis of the Delta tunnel proposal — and alternatives to it — so Californians can determine whether it is the best approach for meeting long-term water needs.” Alas, the current draft EIR only includes alternative routes for a single tunnel or “No Project.” Where are is the study and investment into projects, like desalination, increased conversion efforts, that we need?

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