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Save the Date – May 8

“New” Tunnel Plan, Same Problems

Here’s an overview of how the “new” Single Tunnel Plan is the same as the old plan. And what is different (not much).

The only difference is a possible new Eastern route which goes a bit more around-the-Delta than through it. But other than a swath of purple on a map, there are no details yet about construction impacts with an Eastern tunnel route.

Otherwise, the same construction impacts exists at the North intakes and along the old Through-Delta route (still an option). In addition, regardless of tunnel route, the construction will leave behind muck in the Delta plus the same long-term water quality issues exist.

Unacceptable – Single Tunnel Plan has the same Intake Locations in the North!

Karen Mann at the Stakeholder Engagement Meeting February 12, 2020.

At the Wednesday Stakeholder Engagement Committee Meeting, Karen Mann, representing South Delta Local Businesses, read feedback from one of her stakeholders explaining why we are enraged that the new Single Tunnel Plan has the same intake locations in the North Delta:

It is clear that the intakes cannot be placed in any of the locations shown on the preliminary drawings for discussion purposes (that is in 2 of the 3 locations of previous intakes 2, 3, and 5 of California Waterfix). Extensive evidentiary showings in the prior State Water Resources Control Board hearings and Delta Stewardship Council hearings show that neither of these agencies can approve intakes in these locations because it would not be consistent with the Public Trust Doctrine (Water Board) or the Delta Reform Act (Delta Stewardship Council). It is unacceptable to locate the intakes in close proximity to Delta Legacy communities. We understand that DWR wants to put the intakes in these locations only because they claim they have an existing water right at these locations. DWR will just have to accept the reality that they are going to have to put the intakes somewhere else and initiate a new water right in order to do so.

The question is: When will begin a realistic consideration of intake locations? That is, locations other than currently being considered. Talking about intakes at the current locations is a waste of time because it cannot happen.

That sentiment is similar to what we’re saying in addition about the “Central Corridor” tunnel route (which is the same as the WaterFix “Through-Delta” Alignment) which we proved in the prior Water Board hearings and DSC hearings that the shutting down of Delta waterways to boating and recreation was inconsistent with the Delta Plan and could not be approved. Talking about construction destruction through the center of the Delta is a waste of time.

In addition, nothing has changed with the long-term issues raised about impacts to the in-Delta water quality. You can’t take the fresher water out before it flows through the estuary and expect improvements for fish survivability.

Yet, DWR moves ahead with these “Scoping” meetings expecting community input.

Why aren’t they taking the input they previously received and altering their plan to make it acceptable?


Thursday, February 20, 2020, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Brentwood Community Center Conference Room, 35 Oak Street, Brentwood. South Delta members are STRONGLY requested to attend !!! We will be in the parking lot at 5:15 p.m. to organize.

If you can’t make that one, there is one on Wednesday, February 19, 2020, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Clarksburg Middle School Auditorium, 52870 Netherlands Road, Clarksburg.

Get your new “No Tunnel” Lawn Signs now

Get your new “No Tunnel, One Tunnel is One Too Many!” signs now. Here’s our President, Karen Mann, modeling our new sign:

Our old “Stop the Tunnels” lawn signs became out of date when the WaterFix twin tunnel project was rejected. But the Single Tunnel project continues. Some of our members were trying the use black Sharpies or electrical tape to “X” out the “s” on Tunnels. We’ve got that fixed. We will replace your old sign for free and want as many of you to have signs who will display them!

To request a lawn sign, Click Here to send an email to the lawn sign committee.

We also are asking for volunteers who will take signs to neighbors who have the old signs to replace them and ask people without signs if they want one. Let our sign committee know if you can help. Click Here to send an email to the lawn sign committee to volunteer.

We Need your Help!

(Updated 1/27/2020)
I know you are saying, “Once again? More meetings and comments?”

But this is going to be the final round! The “knock-out punch.”

And we’ve made such progress by stopping the Twin Tunnels last year. And many of our winning arguments against that plan are still valid today.

We plan to attack the Single Tunnel Plan on three prongs:

  1. One – The location of the Intakes in the North Bay are atrocious. They will cause blight on the legacy communities to the North. We don’t have details yet on this new plan, but the basic location hasn’t changed and is right on top of the towns of Hood, Courtland, and Clarksburg.
  2. Two – We fought valiantly that the Through-Tunnel Construction Project was a show-stopper. The Department of Water Resources (DWR) has now come back with two alternate routes – the old ridiculous through-tunnel route (now re-labeled the “Central Corridor.”)

    (The DWR are experts at marketing/re-labeling attempts. “Muck” was re-labeled “Reusable Tunnel Material (RTM).” Doesn’t that sound nice. And the “Through-Delta Alignment” now becomes the “Central Corridor.” Not to mention the original plan was named the BDCP “Bay-Delta ‘Conservation’ Plan.” And then because the EPA said it wasn’t a “Conservation” plan, it was relabeled “WaterFix.” Sounded better than a “Tunnel Plan.”)

    We proved that their Through-Delta route would cause significant impacts to boating and recreation throughout the Delta, and to Delta communities’ roads and services. The DSC Staff reported that route was inconsistent with the Delta Plan, which should have been a show-stopper. But yet it is still one of the routes being considered.

    Now they are offering an “Eastern Corridor” as a “maybe” option.

    This is where we need your help.

    We have a great amount of detail about the impacts of the Central Corridor. You can review that information on our new Tunnel Maps page. Those maps highlight favorite South Delta boating & recreation channels and show how the Central Corridor construction plan wipes them all out.

    So now we need to analyze the Eastern Corridor to see what the issues are there.

    We need your help to identify if the Eastern route has issues and what they are. To that end, we have their new 2020 map and added labels for what boating sites are in the Eastern route path. Below that is their old Eastern Route which has more detail about the actual tunnel path and tunnel shaft locations. These may have changed, but it’s the best we have to-date. If you have traveled those waterways, please email me with any info you have.

    NOTE: The map below is an image and the labels are hard to make out. For a more readable version of the map click here.

  3. WaterFix Eastern Alignment. I think this map is outdated – but may help visualize where a tunnel and tunnel shafts would go.

  4. Three – Resulting water quality. We do not believe that either alignment proposed will improve the real issues that affect the water quality which impacts the environment, the fish, and results in invasive plant species including toxic blue-green algae. We have our arguments ready there.

We will be asking for your help with attending the scoping meetings (yes, sorry, we need to show up again. Thank you in advance.) The list of meetings is here:

They think we’re tired and won’t show up again.

The best message would be for as many as possible to show up for the first meeting in Sacramento:

  • Monday, February 3, 2020, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. California Environmental Protection Agency Building, 1001 I Street, Sacramento

We’d like folks to support the communities in the North Delta that will be inundated with the intakes and pumping facilities. Those meetings are here:

  • Monday, February 10, 2020, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Jean Harvie Community Center, 14273 River Road, Walnut Grove
  • Wednesday, February 19, 2020, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Clarksburg Middle School Auditorium, 52870 Netherlands Road, Clarksburg

Those of you who are in San Jose or LA – here’s the meetings there:

  • Wednesday, February 5, 2020, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Junipero Serra State Building, 320 West Fourth Street, Los Angeles
  • Wednesday, February 12, 2020, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Santa Clara Valley Water District Board Room, 5750 Almaden Expressway, San Jose

There’s one in Stockton:

  • Thursday, February 13, 2020, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. San Joaquin Council of Governments Board Room, 555 Weber Avenue, Stockton

Show them Discovery Bay and the South Delta Communities are still committed!

We want all of our South Delta members to also attend the meeting nearest to Discovery Bay. Remember how we flooded the DSC meeting a couple of years go and they had to expand the conference room and ran out of sign-up sheets? We want to do that again:

  • Thursday, February 20, 2020, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Brentwood Community Center Conference Room, 35 Oak Street, Brentwood

Support us and show up for as many meetings as you can. Particularly the first and last.

And we will be asking you to send in comments. We’ll send out more info about that soon.

Even the “Big Guys” are jumping into the fray

Photo by the Department of Water Resources
Here’s a very good, strong letter written by the Sierra Club opposing the tunnel and reprimanding Newsom for his water policy directions.

Here are some excerpts but it’s worth reading the entire email here.

First, the governor is on a track that seems driven by adherence to some of Governor Jerry Brown’s worst water policies. And, second, he’s not getting good advice.

As they did with Brown, the bad water policies related to the San Francisco Bay Delta and a tunnel are overshadowing the good water policies the administration is advancing.

Newsom’s water problems started on election day in 2018, even before votes had been counted in the governor’s race. That day, as lieutenant governor, he signed onto a letter with then-Governor Brown, instructing the State Water Board chair to postpone a public hearing set for the very next day about new water rules affecting rivers that flow into the Delta.

Furthermore, about those Delta flow rules recommended by the Water Board that were backed by environmentalists and supported by science, Newsom’s approach is to let the big water contractors opt out by agreeing to a “voluntary agreement” approach. I liked their analogy:

To put that in perspective, when a big water contractor asks for a voluntary agreement, it’s kind of like a kid asking for free run of a candy shop. Forever.

And here’s their critique of Newsom’s water policies in general:

On the one hand, he signed an executive order that promises to make regions more water resilient and develop a portfolio of needed projects.

On the other hand, his administration produced a draft portfolio that relies on—wait for it—the Delta tunnel, the epitome of non-regional non-resilience.

It’s a good read.

Click here to read their entire email.

RBOC Responds

Good News! Everyone is chiming in on the new Single Tunnel Plan.


Here’s Recreational Boaters of California’s response. RBOC represent all of California. North and South.

Stated RBOC President Daniel J. Hodge: “RBOC and the boating community must continue to speak strongly during this new phase. Even as reconfigured, the single tunnel would significantly impair the ability of boaters to access the 1,000 miles of waterways in the Delta – especially during the 13 or more years of construction.”

Read the entire response: Click here

For the RBOC Press Release: Click here

Newsom’s “Water Resilience Portfolio” Released

Earlier this month, a Water Resilience Portfolio was prepared by the state agencies. In April 2019, Governor Newsom directed state agencies through Executive Order N-10-19 to develop a “water resilience portfolio,” described as a set of actions to meet California’s water needs through the 21st century.

The response from Save the California Delta Alliance’s President, Karen Mann, to the Water Resilience Portfolio was:

It was quite a surprise to see their Portfolio list more than 100 projects; some quite costly – a very ambitious plan! Some of the projects are good ideas, but there was no information about the priority of the projects nor the time line. It was great to see the recycle of storm water and study of desalination as part of this Portfolio. Residents of Discovery bay will be pleased that the 2019 legislation requires the Water Board to establish and maintain program to reduce and/or eliminate Toxic Algae in our waterways.

We note the push to mitigate the needed increase of water flows with Volunteer Settlement Agreements (VSAs). The report states they plan to “harness the best of science, engineering and innovation”; however there has been no scientific evidence that fish can survive the improved habitat without adequate water flows – Fish still need adequate water to live!

Finally, it was a disappointment to see the Tunnel Project was still included – we had hoped we could explore alternative solutions. Even though Governor Newsom declared on 04/29/2019 that the tunnel project would be reconsidered and the project would be redesigned – the only change noted so far (as provided at the DCA’s Stakeholder Engagement Committee (SEC) Meetings) has been essentially the same as prior information as the prior project which had two tunnels now configured for the single tunnel (which may have a 4-6 story diameter, same input location in the Town of Hood, etc.). It was our hope that this Portfolio would also consider alternative solutions which would not require the “invasive” tunnel construction which traverses though the center of the Delta which would result in adverse environmental impacts during the 10+ years of construction, and unknown destruction of the Delta fishery.

In addition, it is worth noting that the State Water Project is the largest user of electricity in California and a significant contributor to climate change. It uses all of the electricity generated by the state’s hydroelectric plants plus billions of kilowatts generated by gas fired power plants every year to pump billions of tons of water from the Delta to Southern California up and over the Tehachapi Mountains and as far south as San Diego. The first and obvious step in resilience is a planned retreat from the climate atrocity of pumping water over a mountain range and instead developing local supplies to replace all water exported south of the Tehachapis.

The Year in Review

Happy Holidays to you and your family!

2019 was a big year for Save the California Delta Alliance because the hard work of 2018 and prior years paid off.

In summary:

  • After an eight-year epic battle we defeated the twin tunnels.
    • In December of 2018 the Department of Water Resources (DWR) was forced to withdraw one of its tunnel permit requests in hearings before the Delta Stewardship Council. (Our legal counsel, Michael Brodsky, and the witness testimonies he brought forth were extensively quoted in these wins.)
    • When Gov. Newsom suggested a single tunnel earlier this year, the DWR tried to argue that a single tunnel somehow magically solved all of our objections.
    • But in May, DWR threw in the towel completely. They canceled all project approvals and tossed (de-certified) the deeply flawed EIR, which is exactly what we sought in our lawsuit.
  • However, efforts continue with design studies that include the same through-Delta route. We expect their new larger single tunnel EIR may still:
    • Pose construction destruction throughout the Delta.
    • Pose unmitigable impacts to boating and highways.
    • Ignore the science about how to save the fish and water quality in the Delta.

The fight will continue in 2020. We cannot be complacent. Fighting back takes time, money, and perseverance.

Read the details below. And please continue to support our efforts to save the Delta we all love and call home. Donate what you can and keep an eye out for notices of our town hall meetings and other events. You can donate here:

Read more below . . .

After an eight-year epic battle we defeated the twin tunnels

After an eight-year epic battle we defeated the twin tunnels, first called the BDCP and then later re-named California WaterFix.

True to its name, the fix was in for WaterFix from the beginning and state officials pushed ahead with the project and seemingly no amount of evidence that it was a disaster for the Delta could dissuade them. Then the tide began to turn in November of 2018 when Delta Alliance and several of its allies, including Contra Costa, San Joaquin, and Sacramento Counties, the Delta Protection Commission, and the City of Stockton challenged the tunnels in front of the Delta Stewardship Council. See Delta Alliance’s slide presentations to the Council here.

The evidence was so overwhelming that the Council’s staff made a determination that WaterFix violated the Delta Plan! This was a huge success because no project can get underway in the Delta that violates the main “Delta Plan.” The 150 page determination quoted extensively from Delta Alliance’s evidence presented by our Legal Council, Michael Brodsky, and from testimony of Delta Alliance Board Member Bill Wells and Delta Alliance Member Captain Frank Morgan. Read the Council’s determination here.

Rather than face a humiliating final vote of the Council’s seven members, DWR withdrew its permit request in December of 2018 and said it would make revisions and come back and try again.

Through 2018, Delta Alliance was fighting the tunnels on several fronts, including the hearings at the Council, separate hearings before the State Water Resources Control Board on DWR’s water rights permit, and in Sacramento Superior Court in our challenge to the WaterFix EIR. It was a busy time.

It was obvious that DWR’s defeat at the Council was the beginning of the end for WaterFix and that the project simply could not survive scrutiny. But Governor Brown pushed ahead nevertheless; perhaps for him and his dream of completing his father’s vision of the State Water Project a Hail Mary attempt at continuing the court fight was better than admitting defeat.

This year:

When Governor Brown departed and Governor Newsom took office in January of 2019, Governor Newsom saw the handwriting on the wall. In his February State of the State Address he pulled the plug on WaterFix and announced he would pursue a smaller single tunnel instead.

This gave DWR cover to throw in the towel in the court case. In May of 2019, DWR surrendered by taking all the steps that Delta Alliance demanded in our lawsuit. Read our complaint, which is a good history of the whole tunnels saga, filed in Sacramento Superior Court in August of 2017, here. DWR canceled all project approvals and tossed (de-certified) the deeply flawed EIR. DWR promised to pay more attention to Delta construction impacts in planning for a single tunnel and to obey the law in the new EIR do-over.

In parallel, there are efforts to move the single tunnel plan ahead by a separate design studies authority given to the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority (DCA), an entity formed last year comprised solely of state water contractors, half representing L.A.’s Metropolitan Water District. If you remember, in May 2018 when the DCA was formed, the new President of the Board, Tony Estremera, was absolutely beaming at the prospects of digging up the Delta and stated, “We look forward to a nice long, long period of construction.”

The new single tunnel project hasn’t been written, but they are proceeding assuming the prior tunnel route is still in play, which means all of our concerns about the serious impacts to our roads, waterways, farms, legacy towns, and the Delta communities are unchanged.

What is the timing?

Governor Newsom is pushing hard to get the single tunnel approved and built, but our victory against the twin tunnels means that he has to repeat the whole process, which will take about three years. We will challenge him at every step of the way. And if the state gets that far, and approves a new single tunnel, we will file suit again. We cannot be complacent. Fighting back takes time, money, and perseverance.

What do we need to do in 2020?

We must keep fighting and leave no stone unturned. Much of our victory against the twin tunnels was due to the excellent expert testimony we submitted. We hired an acoustical engineer, a structural engineer, a hydrologist, a freshwater ecologist, and a traffic engineer to testify in the various hearings. These folks need to be paid and it was your donations that paid them. Thank you.

Please continue to support our efforts to save the Delta we all love and call home. Donate what you can and keep an eye out for notices of our town hall meetings and other events. You can donate here:

Please Donate

or by mailing a check made out to STCDA to:

    P.O. Box 1760
    Discovery Bay, CA 94505.

STCDA is a non-profit 501(c)3 dedicated to maintaining a healthy Delta for fish, farmers, communities, and boating & recreation.

New Biological Opinions Released

NOAA research scientists were surprised when the new biological opinions came out this week. When they submitted their report in July, they thought the BiOp would be a “Jeopardy” opinion, meaning the project would result in jeopardizing listed fish species. But it went through a team of reviewers (including at NOAA) and the final BiOp is a “No Jeopardy.” Hmmm.

So what changed? After the July findings, US Bureau of Reclamation (in charge of the Central Valley Project) and the Department of Water Resources who operate the State Water Project, continued to “clarify and refine the proposed action” to address the NOAA Scientists’ concerns. This resulted in a final proposed action, transmitted to NOAA and USFWS on October 17, 2019. NOAA and USFWS (not the scientists who worked on the original “Jeopardy” report – then who?) then substantially revised their analyses of anticipated effects. On October 21, 2019, they transmitted their conclusions to Reclamation and DWR that the proposed action is consistent with the requirements of the ESA. That’s a pretty fast turn-around for a 900 plus page report.

Call me a skeptic, but it looks fishy to me. I’m sure more will come out about the report, but when I read the Terms and Conditions, I was disappointed how weak the wording was. There are no target results, no measurables. Just a lot of conditions saying Reclamation & DWR need to continue to monitor how the fish are doing. They just need to let NMFS know how the fish are doing. But no corrective action or results requirements.

The last thing the Delta needs is more water taken away. Fish need habitat and more water. We had a high water year, and the numbers of fish show how valuable it is. We have record high numbers of juvenile winter-run passing through Red Bluff and on their way down to the Delta right now (record at least in the past 10-20 years).

This new BiOps replaces 2008 USFWS BiOp and 2009 NMFS biological opinions that were to be in effect for 20 years. USFWS covers non-anadromous (inland) fish such as Delta smelt, and NOAA/NMFS covers anadromous fish (salmon, steelhead and green sturgeon) as well as marine mammals such as the southern resident killer whale (which is listed as endangered since it feeds on winter-run Chinook salmon).


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