Archive for the 'DSC/Delta Plan' Category

Muck by any other name is still muck

I still remember when the Department of Water Resources (DWR) caused such a public uproar about the muck ponds from tunnel construction (aka the “spoils” removed from under ground) that would be left throughout the Delta from tunnel construction.

What is tunnel muck? In 2013, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) said it was “plastic mix consisting of soil cuttings and soil conditioning agents (water, air, bentonite, foaming agents, and/or polymers/ biopolymers)”. Yuck. Muck (their term, not mine).

To solve their problem with muck, they did a global edit on their 40,000 page BDCP Plan to change the word “muck” to “RTM” or “Reusable Tunnel Material.” Voila! That sounds nicer, doesn’t it? Then they spent years in marketing campaigns and other efforts to look for nice uses of the “RTM”. They even want to use it to fill in Franks Tract as a tidal marsh.

On Page 10 of the January 31 report by the Independent Technical Review (ITR) Committee, a group of engineers advising the DCA (that’s the Delta Conveyance and Design Construction Authority), Section 4.2 Tunnel Material states:

Based on ITR experience, soft ground tunnel material is not a commodity (has no residual value) and is difficult to dispose or find a use for. These two factors were part of the reasons the ITR recommends (above) moving the alignment closer to industrialized land, close to multiple modes of transport, to handle removal of it in the most economical manner.

ITR cautions that the “reusability” of such material should not be over-sold within the project team, as no experience exists (within the ITR members) where material from a soft ground tunnel has been used as structural fill.

That sounds like a big “no” for planning on leaving the stuff around the Delta.

Are we finally rid of the Through-Delta Tunnel Route?

I love the Delta and our scenic waterways.

We’ve never thought it made any sense to put a major construction project through the heart of the Delta, on Delta islands and in small waterways beloved by boaters and for recreation.

Now we’re finding out that the Independent Technical Review (ITR) Committee, a group of engineers advising the DCA (that’s the Delta Conveyance and Design Construction Authority) January 31 report says:
“The consensus among the ITR was that the Central Corridor [aka the “Through-Delta” route] is logistically impractical and the ITR does not recommend this corridor be further studied.” (Page 6 of the linked report gives the details). Just as we’ve been saying.They elaborated:

The shaft locations are located a significant distance from Interstate 5, accessible by only farm roads with hindrances such as narrow weight-restricted bridges and single lanes. This makes supporting large operations, which requires a constant transfer of materials and people in and out, impractical and expensive as well as difficult to price. In addition, addressing safety, including hospital access and tunnel safety duplication, creates a costly layer or redundancy without definitive costs. While it was recognized that extensive roadway, levee, and likely barge improvements could be constructed as part of the project for the Central Corridor, the ITR offered:

  • The cost of improvements to provide reliable and safe access and egress at each site would exceed the cost of additional length of tunnel required for the East alignment.
  • Levee re-build, barge, and site preparation & stabilization is temporary work, and much of it (e.g. barge facilities) will require removal;
  • Labor and construction safety costs, regardless of improvements, are too uncertain to price due to the location and distance from any shaft on the Central Alignment to developed land/communities.

The ITR Committee is actually pushing for a different route even further East than the Single Tunnel’s Eastern Corridor, closer to I-5 for construction transportation and onto more solid ground than Delta Islands. That would be a huge win for the Delta communities and makes sense, but could have cause new, unanalyzed impacts along that route.

Regardless, that doesn’t correct the other issues with the WaterFix that have been carried through into the Single Tunnel plan. We know that the intake locations in the north will destroy legacy communities there. The location has nothing to do with the “best” location for intakes but instead because DWR has an existing water right at these locations and will not have to go through the process of initiating a new water right if it selects these locations. This is not a lawful reason to exclude consideration of other locations. We know that location of the intakes next to legacy communities is not acceptable.

STCDA believes newer, modern technologies like desalination, recycling, and conservation for L.A. Replacing turf landscaping (green lawns) in southern California with drought tolerant landscaping would save more water than is annually diverted from the Delta. That plus investing in ground water table recharge for the Central Valley, not a tunnel, are the right solutions to help those areas of the state reduced reliance on the Delta through improved regional self-reliance which is a top priority for the Newsom administration. Newsom needs to drop the tunnel plan in favor of modern alternatives.

Wave of suits hits Delta Plan

This week Save the California Delta Alliance joined with numerous other entities including environmental groups, commercial fishermen, water diverters and local governments in protesting the Delta Stewardship Council’s adoption of the Delta Plan. To view the STCDA Law Suit Filing click here.

The STCDA suit represents the interests of the large number of members in Discovery Bay, who “own waterfront homes with attached docks in the Delta”, and others who “swim, fish, boat, water-ski, wakeboard and otherwise recreate in the Delta. STCDA members earn their livings in Bay-Delta related businesses including marinas, fishing enterprises, water sports enterprises, Delta waterfront real estate agencies, and many other Bay-Delta related enterprises.” It stated that STCDA also represents the wider spectrum of membership including other Delta communities and the Bay.

Like the other suits, we object that the Delta Stewardship Council did not start with the scientific Delta Flows as directed by the Legislature. The Delta Flows are needed to identify how much water is available for export and how much must flow through the Delta to sustain it. The State Water Resources Control Board did produce its Delta Flow report in August 2010 but the answer was that the Delta needed less water exported out, not more. That was the wrong answer for the DSC so they have ignored the Delta Flows.

Our suit was able to take the Delta Stewardship Council to task for not specifically taking a position with regards to the still ‘on-hold’ Two-Gates Fish Protection Demonstration Project and The Plan makes no recommendations regarding them. As the last email to the membership noted, the Bacon Island Bridge is undergoing a one-month maintenance down-time in October during which, if the two-gates had been installed in 2009 as planned, Discovery Bay boats would not be able to come or go during that entire month. In addition, on Memorial Day, there was a tragic accident south of Mildred Island where a truck ran off the road into the slough and several people were missing. We were not allowed to pass through that slough to get from Mildred Island, through the Bacon Island Bridge to Discovery Bay due to the rescue operation and had to go the long way up Middle River and down Old River where the Two Gates would have not allowed us to return home with our grandbaby after the long weekend. We need to remain diligent to insure that gates do not get installed throughout the Delta, blocking navigation and causing other issues.

Our lawsuit further pointed out 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”. At prior DSC meetings we had requested the council consider a meaningful re-operation and conjuctive use strategy yet nothing is included in the Delta Plan and that the billions spent on the tunnels would be better spent on a series of smaller groundwater recharge projects that would be much less locally disruptive, spare Delta communities from annihilation, and would actually achieve the goals of providing a more reliable water supply to the state, restoring the Bay-Delta ecosystem, and expanding statewide storage capacity as mandated by the legislature. The re-operation and conjuctive use alternative is the one we have been raising money to hire scientists to help defend.

We are fortunate to have Michael Brodsky as a Discovery Bay resident and STCDA legal council. He once again has donated his time and expertise, working long hours and last weekend to put this suit together pro bono. Thank you again, Mr. Brodsky!

Links to news coverage of the law suits:

DSC approves the Delta Plan

Delta Stewardship Council logo
Today the Delta Stewardship Council met to review the final Delta Plan and approved it, voting 7-0.

There were speakers from the Sierra Watershed, State and Federal water contractors and Department of Fish & Wildlife, Water Branch who mostly commended the work done on the Delta Plan and recommended adoption.

However, there were very strong objections raised during the public comment period from environmental groups. Bill Jennings, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, CSPA, reminded the panel that currently there are water rights for five times the amount of available water in the watershed. “This is really the source of the California Water Crisis but this is not discussed or analyzed in the Delta plan. In 2010 the Legislature directed the SWRCB to prepare the Delta Flows. The state board concluded that substantial increases – 75% of Delta outflow – should be outflow. How can you have a comprehensive plan if you don’t acknowledge the reality that there is a conundrum there? You had this golden opportunity to set forth the standards and attainment of how those standard would be met. That might have given us a glimmer of hope. Instead we are looking at at least 8 lawsuits about how we are going to restore this estuary before we destroy it.”

Nick DiCroce from the Environmental Water Caucus added that the Delta Plan “paves the way for a BDCP project which in it’s current state will compound the degradation of the Delta.” He recommended the council “adopt a policy that each project submitted to the DSC be required to satisfy three analytical steps to be certified by the Delta Plan: (1) Water availability analysis (2) Cost benefit analysis and (3) Public trust balance analysis.”

Two Oakley citizens spoke. Ms. Skoog had never attended a DSC meeting before but raised concerns with the tunnel project, whether anything of it’s size had ever been built before under a fragile estuary and raised concerns about project costs and results, citing the Bay Bridge’s overruns and although it’s goal was to be earthquake-proof, we now find it is not. Paul Segar from Oakley compared building the tunnels before managing the need for more water than exists as “we are hemorrhaging the use of water in our cities and our farms. And it occurs to me we are doing open heart surgery before stopping the bleeding. It will be very expensive operation unless we stop the bleeding by penalizing misuse and encouraging smarter use of water especially southern farms that are growing in the desert regions.”

Mr Charles Gardner, Delta Vision Foundation encouraged adoption of the plan but said the council needs to address a number of the key issues we really need to address in the near term such as the levees, the performance measures, the finance plan and above all the implementation committee.

Gary Bobker, Bay Institute and NRDC, commended the way the plan does a good job of describing the Delta as a place. But stated that it is missing clarity about the outcomes and performance measurements; hence the current Delta Plan will not solve the problem of reducing the pressure on the Delta Ecosystem and reducing the risk to the Delta.

Councilwomen Miller, Stockton, urged the council to not approve the plan; rather to continue to work with local stakeholders to bring forth a plan that works for all.

The Council then voted to approved the plan, 7-0.

Why isn’t anyone looking at desalinization as part of the plan?

Save the California Delta Alliance submitted a formal set of comments in response to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Delta Plan. A contingent of concerned citizens traveled to Sacramento Thursday January 24 to show their concern and present comments at the Delta Stewardship Council (DSC) hearing. We told them about our community and boating concerns and questioned why the DSC is not reviewing alternatives to the BDCP/Peripheral Canal.

Various alternatives have been proposed including Dr. Pyke’s concept for a new intake at Sherman Island or restructuring the current location with state-of-the-art fish screens. Or better still, options which avoid removing additional water from the Delta by leveraging the millions of acre feet of water now diverted into the flood control structures on the Sacramento River north of the proposed point of diversion or the Tulare Lake Basin Restoration proposals.

It seems obvious any alternative should include desalinization plants to improve regional self-sufficiency for the Central and Southern portions of the state.

The position the Delta Stewardship Council has taken is that they are responsible for guidelines protecting the Delta and the Bay and Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) is responsible for the Tunnel project. The DSC says therefore they are only responsible for reviewing the BDCP proposal. That doesn’t make sense to us. That leaves no one in the state looking for better alternatives than exporting even more water out of the Delta after the current level of exports have sent the environment into crisis mode. The BDCP’s plan will increase salinity, deteriorate our water quality, impact the fish and waterfowl. We think the Council can and should evaluate the merits and feasibility of various options.

There are many options much better than huge twin tunnels. One of our Discovery Bay residents, a prior engineer, has offered a new variation that has some unique ideas. I think his ideas combine the best of the best solutions and would save our Delta from the damage we all know would result if the twin tunnels (aka Peripheral Canal) is built.

This is Eric Jensen from Discovery Bay.
My background is in Engineering with my last 20 years at Hewlett-Packard.

I have studied the water problem that faces California and have come up with a solution that will benefit all Californians.

Water solution:
1) Cancel the twin tunnels and instead spend the money to build large desalinization plants inland, close to the existing canal infrastructure. Run them full time, with the excess water being sold to Arizona and Nevada or even further inland.
2) Create water storage solutions for Southern and even Central California [Store excess in Lake Mead, restore the Tulare Lake Basin, replenish ground water]
3) Improve the existing pumps by installing numerous large self cleaning fish filters, saving millions of fish from death at the pumps. This type of filter already exists, you can see one in use near the intersection of Bixler and Denali in Discovery Bay or I can send you photos that I have taken.

Why this the best solution:
1) This eliminates the “all your eggs in one basket” twin tunnel concept, because it prevents the drought situation that is inevitable (look at Kansas wheat today or the Mayan civilization that perished in an extended drought).
2) Population throughout California will continue to increase, as will the need for water. We do not need a different distribution of the existing water, we need more water.
3) Allows for storage of excess water when California has an excess rainfall.

1) Yes, water will cost more, but the cost will be shared by all Californians not just those using the more expensive per acre foot desalinized water. Selling the excess water will lower Californians cost.
2) We have purchased an “insurance policy” that California will have water during drought, not just for now, but for it’s future generations.
3) With the improved fish filters, the existing pumps can safely send less expensive water south when water is available or to storage during excess years.
4) We have created more water, not fought over the distribution of existing water that will disappear in an extended drought that is inevitable.

Hope you like the concept, thanks,

Eric Jensen

Dr. Pyke’s Open Letter August 28, 2012
January 9, 2013 – Dr. Pyke’s Addendum to the Proposal

Recent and Upcoming Events

Governor’s Big Mistake

Last week SFGate publishes article “Governor’s Delta Plan is a Big Mistake”.

It’s a great article. Concise. A must-read.

Delta Plan Comment Period Ends

Thanks to everyone who submitted comments to the Delta Plan! We all have concerns from making sure that our home values are protected, our boating access assured, local farmers and businesses are not impacted and the environment maintained.

STCDA’s legal council submitted Rulemaking comments for the Delta Plan finding the Delta Plan inadequate since it does not take account of the peripheral canal or provide the Council adequate criteria to assess the canal when it comes for approval and to insure adequate protection of the Delta after the canal goes into operation. Additional concerns are the Council’s decision to not study conveyance options/alternatives.

If the Delta Plan, which is supposed to be the regulatory document for Delta operations from now on, doesn’t consider the canal, which is the biggest threat to the Delta, then the Plan can’t be complete!

Lets Take our Message to the Delta Council!

Next week, Thursday January 24th is an important public hearing meeting for the Delta Stewardship Council to take additional public input on the Delta Plan Rulemaking procedures. STCDA representatives plan to attend and encourage all others who can to show up and demonstrate local concern for the Plan and process. Having faces in the room is a great way to make a strong impact! The meeting is from 9:30 – 11:30 AM at the Ramada Inn & Suites, 1250 Halyard Drive, West Sacramento, CA 95691 – see Delta Council public hearing. People are welcome to show up at the Boardwalk Grill 5879 Marina Road in Discovery Bay at 8 AM to grab a hot coffee and carpool together. See you there!

Carpool and Meeting Info

Delta Plan Moves Ahead

It’s a new year and the Delta Stewardship Council is holding CEQA scoping meetings on the development of the Delta Plan. Meetings are scheduled in Clarksburg on January 24 and in Stockton on January 25.

  • North Delta – Monday Jan 24 (6:30 PM – 9:30 PM)
    Clarksburg Middle School Auditorium
    52870 Netherlands Road, Clarksburg, CA 95612

  • South Delta – Tuesday Jan 25 (6:00 PM – 8:30 PM)
    San Joaquin County Robert J. Cabral Agricultural Center
    Assembly Rooms 2 & 3
    2101 East Earhart Ave
    Stockton, CA 95206

A meetings will also be held in Chico Wednesday evening. Links to information on these scoping meetings are available at:


There was very little Delta representation at the Concord meeting last week we hear from a couple of folks who did attend. At the meeting the council representatives re-stated their “coequal goals” – providing a more reliable water supply for California and protecting, restoring and enhancing the Delta ecosystem. The coequal goals shall be achieved in a manner that protects and enhances the unique cultural, recreational, natural resource and agricultural values of the Delta as an evolving place.

Isenberg stressed that by establishing the goals as coequal, no priority may be given to one over another, hence the water supply can not be underscored below the health of the Delta.

The local attendee who emailed STCDA expressed strong concern for how this will affect us locally here in the Delta. But felt if we have any chance in this matter, it will be with them on our side. They will be establishing the laws that will govern us. Please do not hesitate to submit comment and urge others to do so.

We have until January 28th for public comment to be submitted to their website or via email at

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