The “Fix” is in – the “California Water Fix” (aka BDCP/Delta Tunnels)
In July, 2015, the State separated the BDCP into two projects:
- California Water Fix (the plan for the Delta Tunnels)
- California EcoRestore (the habitat restoration part of the BDCP)
Both are now part of the BDCP. The Final EIR/EIS for the BDCP/California Water Fix (aka “Delta Tunnels”) released December 22, 2016.
For the current status of events, see our “Event Tracker” page.
The Legislature passed the Delta Reform Act of 2009 requiring a Delta Stewardship Council (DSC) be established and a “Delta Plan” be written to both improve reliable water exports and protect the Delta. Any project affecting the Delta then must be approved and incorporated into the Delta Plan.
The Bay Delta Conservation Plan is a plan to build the Peripheral Tunnels being written by the Westside Water District and Metropolitan Water District water contractors representing powerful agriculture corporations in the westside Central Valley (near I-5) including Kerns County.
The Delta Plan
The Delta Plan was approved by the Delta Steering Committee (DSC) May 17, 2013 even though it does not do what the Legislature mandated. It does not:
- Start with the Delta Flows (even though they were provided in August 2010)
- Protect the Delta as place
- Protect Delta boating and recreation
- Protect Delta agriculture
- Contain a cost benefit analysis
- Set standards regarding the X-2 line and salinity for farmers and communities
- Set standards (quality and water levels) for water-front communities such as Discovery Bay’s bays and waterways
- Meet the legislative mandate from the 2009 legislation to reduce reliance on the Delta
The Delta Plan was approved by the State Office of Administrative Law (OAL) on August 12 and will go into effect September 1, 2013. Now the plan will be submitted to the CA Secretary of State. Upon approval from that office, the proposed policies in the Delta Plan become enforceable regulations. That action was expected to occur sometime between July 1 and October 1, 2013.
However, seven organizations have filed law suits against the DSC. Five because it is weak (environmentally) and positioned to streamline acceptance of the BDCP. Two by water contractors who say it does not provide them enough water.
Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) aka The Tunnel Plan
The Bay and Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) (funded primarily by the Westlands Water District and Southern California’s Metropolitan Water District on behalf of a handful of giant agribusiness corporations and developers) is being prepared to build the Peripheral Tunnels (replacing the previous plan for an surface Peripheral Canal). The BDCP Final Draft Plan was released in three stages with the final chapters released May 29. A Draft BDCP Environmental Impact Report (EIR) has also been released.
The BDCP is deceptively named a “Conservation” plan whereas it is primarily a plan to obtain the permits to build two massive tunnels to divert water from further north on the Sacramento before it can flow through the Delta and ship it directly the farmers to the south. The “conservation” measures proposed will remove fertile Delta farmland (by eminent domain) to flood for habitat even though their current scientific results are not proving that increasing habitat alone can save the salmon if their fresh water is diverted. Farmers whose family have owned Delta farm islands for generations point out that farmers and fish coexisted for a hundred years. The salmon populations began dying out as exporting increased, not due to a lack of habitat. Flooding Delta islands will not help.
The construction destruction described in Chapter 4 and resulting piles of tunnel “muck” and other destruction described in Chapter 5 clearly identify the damage this project will do to the Delta. The plan is to do the construction straight through the heart of the Delta, ruining farmlands, legacy communities, and favorite boating waterways. Chapter 15 of the EIR provides more details about the ten or more years of disruption the construction will cause farmers and boaters in the Delta. Delta farmers and communities are facing large economic losses both short-term and long-term due to the tunnels.
The Final BDCP Plan and related EIR will have a comment period, will be reviewed by the Fish & Game and other agencies, and then incorporated into the Delta Plan as the final step required before the tunnel implementation starts.
STCDA STRONGLY OPPOSES THE BDCP PLAN!
- 2015 inputs to the Army Corp of Engineers regarding the impacts to Navigation and Recreation.
- 2015 – STCDA Comment Suggestions
- 2015 – Some additional ideas/a suggested template from Assemblyperson Jim Frazier’s office.
- 2013 STCDA BDCP Comments
- 2013 EPA Review of the BDCP
Where to find the old 2013 documents:
Delta Plan Lawsuits
After the Delta Plan was released, the Westlands Water District sued the DSC saying the Delta Plan failed to assure the water contractors enough water. Six other lawsuits were filed for the opposite reason, that the Delta Plan does not meet the Legislature’s mandate to protect the Delta.
One of the six was filed by STCDA. To view the STCDA Law Suit Filing click here..
General reasons for the six suits include:
- The Delta Reform Act told the State Water Resources Control Board to do a water flow investigation to find out what it would take to protect the estuary. The state board turned in a flow recommendation and the Council didn’t use the flows in the plan.
- The Delta Reform Act also instructed the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to report to the Council what the biological goals and objectives should be for species in the Delta. The CDFW wrote hundreds of pages in a report and turned it in to the Council. The Council not only did not use it, but didn’t even mention the goals and objectives in the plan.
- The Delta Reform Act instructed the Delta Protection Commission to write a report about economic sustainability. The Commission wrote the report and turned it in to the Council – and again, they didn’t use it.
In all three cases, the documents were inconvenient to the approval of the tunnels.
Specific STCDA concerns include:
- Lack of protection for the large number of STCDA members in Discovery Bay, who own waterfront homes with attached docks in the Delta; plus they and many others who swim, fish, boat, water-ski, wakeboard and otherwise recreate in the Delta.
- Failure to address the possibility of and negative impacts that result from gates such as the USBR’s prior Two Gates Project which STCDA was able to have withdrawn. The Delta Plan provides no long-term assurances that gates will not be installed, blocking boater access to the Delta.
- That the council has abdicated its responsibility to consider broad policy alternatives to “Big Conveyance” and have not followed the legislature’s mandate to “expand statewide water storage” – in particular to address a meaningful re-operation and conjuctive use strategy as recommended by STCDA in numerous council meetings.