Archive for the 'Tunnel(s)' Category

Alternatives to the Tunnel

The main topic of the July 22, 2020 Stakeholder Engagement Committee Meeting was a presentation about alternatives “considered”, presented by Carrie Buckman, the Department of Water Resources’ Environmental Program Manager. I purposely added quotes around the term “considered” in “alternatives ‘considered’,” because the report sounded like more of the same to me … an exercise required by the EIR NEPA/CEQA process, but not really being considered by the DWR as alternatives to their preferred tunnel. This was another very upsetting presentation to sit through.

If you don’t want to read this whole report, at least read the summary about The Issue with DWR’s Project Objectives to understand why DWR’s review of alternatives is, in my opinion, invalid.


Ms. Buckman went through a few alternatives and explained why they were all rejected.

1. Garamendi’s “A Water Plan for All California”

This plan proposes a much smaller 3,000 cfs pipe (not a tunnel) – more like the pipes already used near the surface by East Bay MUD to route water to Alameda. It is not as disruptive as tunneling, no RTM (Muck), less disruption to farms, no dewatering of wells needed, no risk to drinking water, sewage treatment plants, the railroad trestle, levees.

First, does it meets basic project objectives? She says ‘no’ because:

  • Reliance on channels, canals, and levees provide limited seismic resilience
  • Lower flow provides less operational flexibility between the existing and new facilities for the protection of species and capture of excess flows

Wait a minute … if the main Sacramento Deep Water Ship Channel is not seismically resilient, don’t you think that should be an emergency project to upgrade it? And we like less flow being removed from the Sacramento River. Sounds like two reasons to consider it, not reject it. She also thought there were significant construction impacts associated with working in West Sacramento to build a fish screen and low head pump station. Construction on the west bank of the Sacramento River would result in noise, transportation, visual, air quality, and other impacts related to construction activities through highly populated areas of West Sacramento.

All right – propose a better location for the intakes.

She also stated that the “fish screen protrudes into the Sacramento River and could be disruptive.” But they are proposing much larger areas of fish screens with their current plan. I may be missing something. It didn’t sound very scientific or logical reasons to reject it.

BUT THE BIGGEST ISSUE WITH REJECTING THIS ALTERNATIVE: Garamendi’s plan also includes:

  1. Conservation,
  2. Recycling,
  3. The creation of new storage systems,
  4. Fix the Delta – right sized conveyance, levee improvements, and habitat restoration,
  5. Science driven process,
  6. Protection of existing water rights.

None of those were included in DWR’s review or Ms. Buckman’s report. She only addressed part of #4, “right sized conveyance.” THAT IS WHY DWR’S REJECTION IS BOGUS. Garamendi is proposing a portfolio of solutions, to work together, to reduce reliance on the Delta through regional self-sufficiency, while trying to address how to meet the State Water Project’s short-term objectives and issues and perceived risks with the current pumps.

2. Dr. Pyke’s Sherman Island Proposal

We knew DWR would reject this alternative again as they have in the past. Why? Because the premise of the proposal is that they should build a reservoir on Sherman Island north of Antioch and pump from there.

WHAT THAT WOULD MEAN is that although DWR “claims” they will operate the new tunnel to still maintain the salinity line to not rise above Antioch, that is not true. The long-term plan is to allow salinity to intrude.

That is the beauty of Dr. Pyke’s proposal … it is designed to keep DWR and the water contractors honest. Hence it, once again, is summarily rejected. It would mean they would need to continue to reduce pumping and increase Delta flows and that is not in their goals or plans.

Whether it would work with sea level rise is another question … but I’ve always liked the concept.

3. No Tunnel and Improving Levees

DWR’s issue with any of these options?

  • Improving levees and through-Delta conveyance would not address the water quality component of the project objectives of climate change and sea level rise for the SWP
  • Continued use of the existing system (even with upgrades) as a long-term plan does not address seismic resiliency and the associated water supply reliability concerns.

WRONG – it does improve conditions by keeping salinity out … which is, anyway, what the CA Department of Fish & Wildlife is giving as their goal with the Franks Tract Futures project.

And again with the “seismic resiliency” story. Dr. Pyke calls it the “earthquake bogey.” One of the SEC members asked them to update their seismic information with current active (or not) fault lines and risk. They use the “seismic resiliency” as a weapon, yet the tunnels aren’t being constructed in a way to not be damaged in case of earthquake. Totally bogus reasoning.

Talking about risk, combining sea level rise and seismic issues, there is risk in the future of Delta islands flooding … primarily Bacon, Mandeville, Jones. Yet those are EXACTLY the same islands that they are talking about building their tunnel shafts on without ever addressing what will happen if one or more of those islands floods during construction or after. That is why their plan for putting construction through the Delta on Delta islands is so crazy. Or at least inconsistent.

Ms. Buckman didn’t cover Desalination, Recycling, etc. (or I zoned out by then … I’ll add more when the meeting video is available).

The Issue with DWR’s Project Objectives

Here is the major problem with DWR’s process and alternative evaluation. The objectives they are analyzing alternatives against is:

DWR is focused SOLELY on the State Water Project (for L.A.) and by association, the Central Valley Project for the farmers in the south. Their four objectives look only at it.

But the Delta Reform Act written by the Legislature in 2009, and the Delta Plan which was a result, state the objectives for the Delta are to:

  • Reduce Reliance on the Delta …
  • through Regional Self-Sufficiency

Continuing to focus on the Delta for all of the state’s water needs, particularly when climate change will continue to reduce the snow pack levels, is insanity. Only new technologies, new approaches like desalination, recycling, conservation, better groundwater management, and reduction of need in the Central Valley can actually meet either of the primary objectives.

They said, “This time would be different.”

We first met two of the new Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority (DCA) reps in October, at a Delta meeting of the Delta Activists (groups throughout the Delta fighting the tunnel project). The meeting was held at the Delta Farmer’s Market at the corner of Highways 160 and 12, hosted by Ken and Laura Scheidegger. One of the two DCA reps was Nazli Parvizi.

Delta Farmers Market

At that October 2019 meeting, Nazli assured folks that the DCA’s process would be different from what we’d gone through during the prior BDCP and WaterFix tunnel projects (FOR TEN YEARS!), where Delta voices were never heard. We were told that the DCA was forming a Stakeholder’s Committee to “listen to” the Delta folks and mold the project into something of value for everyone. I must say, we who have been involved with the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and related efforts for years were very skeptical. Yet Karen Mann, bless her heart, in an attempt to do her part for the Delta, volunteered to be on the committee.

[The SEC’s supposed charter is to represent Delta communities in the design of the Single Tunnel project, by giving feedback early on, during the design process. Our South Delta representative for local businesses is our STCDA President, Karen Mann.]

Repeated points made by the stakeholders during the SEC meetings are:

  1. The “Central Corridor” route (which was the WaterFix “Through-Delta Alignment”), is horrible, destructive, will kill Delta communities’ economies, and should be abandoned. The DCA’s own Independent Technical Review Committee agreed. The ITRC proposed a route further east, along the I-5 corridor, to reduce impact on the inner Delta. But the DCA rejected that recommendation.
  2. The site of the Intakes in the North must be moved. The current location will destroy the historic legacy communities of Hood, Clarksburg, and Courtland. Also, the Native American SEC members have reported that the north intakes will destroy a sacred burial ground!

THEN THE PANDEMIC HIT!

Karen, as well as the local businesses she is supposed to be representing and gathering feedback from about this project, are scrambling to keep their small businesses afloat or facing severe financial burdens, kids are home being homeschooled, people have parents and other who are sick battling this disease, health care and service workers are concerned with their own health, and streets are empty.

Most of the SEC committee sent in pleas to the DCA requesting the project be postponed until the pandemic is over. Delta communities are reeling. Many small Delta communities have limited internet infrastructure so cannot get the information about the Tunnel plans except in Town Hall meetings or one-on-one. In addition, no one wants to think about yet another attack on our lives – the huge construction project ripping up the Delta – at a time like this.

Karen’s request to postpone is here.

Yet at the DCA Board Meeting, it was reported that the SEC Members wanted to continue. (That has caused several emails disputing that report!)

At the SEC meeting Wednesday, April 22, (videoconferenced due to the pandemic), the SEC members pushed back strongly on holding the meeting as planned with the agenda item to discuss postponement moved down to Item #5. They wanted to discuss Item #5 first. They wanted to vote on it. They wanted to halt meetings during the pandemic.

Kathryn Mellon, the DCA lead, basically told them (my memory, paraphrasing), “We [the DCA] have a schedule to maintain. We are going to move ahead and complete the tunnel design. It is up to you [SEC Members] if you want to not attend. That would be unfortunate for your Delta stakeholders that you represent. They would not have their voices heard. But I guess they can comment during the CEQA process.”

It was very upsetting to me, listening to the videoconference. Very condescending and browbeating.

Wait for the CEQA process? We all know how that goes. We’ve been commenting on EIRs, opposing this project FOR TEN YEARS! When they get to their CEQA design, they are unmoving. What changes after that point? Nothing. The SEC members were not really given a choice. Yet, as they said, they cannot get valid input from their constituents at a time like this. THIS IS JUST WRONG!

Osha R. Meserve, Legal Council for the North Delta Agencies made this comment during the SEC Meeting public comment period:

A majority of the committee does not want to meet and there should be a vote to decide. The committee is being told that there is a deadline but not what the deadline is. The DCA materials from April 16th show that the Conceptual Engineering Report is due at the end of September so there should be time for stakeholder input. Yet the SEC members are being told they must continue meeting or their input will not occur. This is not correct.

She is exactly right!

So now we know. All that talk about listening, about the stakeholders having input, was a just that – talk.

There is one final test coming up. I sent in (*) Comments on the Project identifying issues with this project. Kathryn Mellon replied that they would like to have a conference call in May to review my document and provide their responses, to be sure they understand the issues. If there is any change in their plan (like if the Central Corridor route is dropped, the route most damaging to the Delta waterfowl and to boating, recreation, and tourism), “maybe” they are listing. The plus if the intake locations are changed. And if they commit to improving Highway 4 if they are going to overload it with construction trucks. If they do that, maybe they are listening.

I’m not going to hold my breath.

——————————————————————————————
(*) Note – There is an error in my comments submitted above. I had thought the DCA had said they would try to move the barge landing out of the popular “The Bedrooms” anchorage on Little Potato Slough and not work on the weekend. They did not. So we will need to see the next pass at the design to find out if the SEC inputs caused any change.

STCDA Official Response to the Single Tunnel

Here is the official Save the California Delta Alliance response to the Single Tunnel (Delta Conveyance) NOP comment period, ending today.

We’d like to thank our Legal Council, Michael Brodsky, for the time and effort he has put in creating this comprehensive and impactful response. He clearly cites how the current project violates the Delta Plan (the overarching document for what projects are allowed and what are not allowed to be undertaken in the Delta).

In legalese, the proposed project is:

not consistent with the Delta Reform Act, the Delta Plan, the Public Trust Doctrine, California Constitution Article X, section 2, the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”), the legal uses to which the State Water Project (“SWP”) may be put, environmental justice principles codified in Government Code section 65040.12, …

His argument is that the only viable alternative is the “No Tunnel” alternative, or a better phrase he uses is a “Natural Systems Alternative,” that “reduces exports in order to provide more water for through-Delta seaward flow and includes strengthening and restoring Delta levees through the use of setback levees and channel margin habitat.”

He further argues that the old WaterFix plan is outdated and now newer technologies (desalination, replacing lawns with desert landscaping, etc.) are more cost effective and more appropriate for SWP’s stated long-term goal of reducing reliance on the Delta.

He effectively argues that the old tunnel approach is not appropriate given climate change. He presents interesting facts and backup information about how the SWP is the biggest consumer of electricity in the state, and how pumping water over the Tehachapis to send Delta water to L.A. is a huge percentage of that power cost, definitely not in line with today’s climate change conservation goals.

This is a document worth reading. The appendices in the back include the testimony provided at the Water Board Hearings and Delta Stewardship Council which resulted in the prior WaterFix being remanded back to the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) to be corrected. One appendix also is the survey clearly showing how tunnel construction would practically end boating in the Delta.

BOTTOM LINE: The new NOP is just the old WaterFix with one tunnel instead of two, but none of the issues have been resolved.

New Tunnel Shaft planned next to Discovery Bay

The Single Tunnel “Notice of Preparation” (NOP) comment period ends this week, Friday April 17. Please send in your comments about why any tunnel is a bad plan. The Department of Water Resources (DWR) is considering two single tunnel routes: The “Central Corridor” (same as the WaterFix Through-Delta Alignment) and a new “Eastern Corridor,” slightly east, but still on Delta islands.

For Discovery Bay, we have a new concern. At the last meeting of the Stakeholder Engagement Committee (SEC), the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority (DCA) showed more details about their current thoughts for the single tunnel. A new shaft next to Discovery Bay and tunnel now nearly going under Discovery Bay – way too close for comfort.

Right when we think DCA has listened to concerns expressed about noise and trying to minimize the impact on citizens, we see a decision to plop a maintenance shaft in Discovery Bay, less than a half mile from the Discovery Bay waterfront homes! From a personal standpoint, I will see and hear that shaft from my back deck and will hear the pounding all night for years. Plus the tunnel now goes dangerously close to the south east golf club homes.

[Side-note: That shaft has never been on the plans before. It makes me wonder, cynically, if the strong turn-out of Discovery Bay citizens over the years protesting the tunnels gave someone the idea to get back at the community. I hope not, that isn’t a pleasant thought.]

STCDA’s noise expert witness at the tunnel hearings in 2018 testified how noise pollution is more noticeable in rural areas and more amplified around water. This shaft wasn’t studied, but new concerns exist now about how much the many years of construction will impact the citizens of Discovery Bay and their home values.

In addition, the tunnel route now comes dangerously close to Discovery Bay homes. A tunneling expert’s witness testimony during the WaterFix hearings raised many issues that could occur tunneling through soft, alluvial soil. The new plan shown in the “Byron Tract Maintenance Shaft” illustration shows the tunnel route dangerously close to Discovery Bay homes.

Prior plans didn’t have a shaft anywhere near Discovery Bay and the tunnel route wasn’t this close. The WaterFix plan had the tunnel route going directly south from Bacon Island with a shaft on Victoria Island before the tunnel angled over to the Southern Forebay. Then the tunnel wouldn’t go under a corner of Discovery Bay, potentially impacting homes there due to tunneling through soft soils.

Where to send comments is provided below. As part of your comments, please add that DWR needs to move or remove this Discovery Bay shaft and alter the tunnel route away from Discovery Bay homes.

Concerns include:

  • New impacts to Discovery Bay from the new, closer shaft.
  • Central Corridor impacts on boating & recreation and resulting economic loss to boating communities, marinas, and boating-based mom & pop businesses due to noise and construction through the middle of the favorite boating waterways and anchorages.
  • Impacts on Delta communities and businesses from the gridlock that will occur on Highway 4 due to construction traffic.
  • Impacts on Delta farmers.
  • Horrible impacts on the historic legacy communities in the north where they are still planning on locating the intakes practically on top of those communities.
  • Muck piles left on Delta islands.
  • Long term issues with removing water north of the Delta instead of allowing it to flow through the Delta.

Single Tunnel NOP Comment Period ends April 17

Email: DeltaConveyanceScoping@water.ca.gov (by 5:00 p.m. on 4/17/20)
Mail: Department of Water Resources, Attn: Renee Rodriguez, P.O. Box 942836, Sacramento, CA 94236 (postmarked by 4/17/20)
Fillable online form: View form (by 5:00 p.m. on 4/17/20)
For general questions about the Delta Conveyance Project, please email DeltaConveyance@water.ca.gov.

The NOP can be viewed online here.

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.

Important Milestones DWR is conveniently forgetting

A California Department of Water Resources (DWR) Scoping Meeting Slide:

Some of us would like to start with some earlier milestones:

  • June 8, 1982 – The voters soundly reject the California Proposition 9, the Peripheral Canal Act.
  • August 27, 2014 – DWR announce postponement of the BDCP Tunnels due to comments received. “The comments revealed that certain areas of the plan need additional study.”
  • August 28, 2014 – The EPA submits a 43-page report warning that the Delta Tunnels could violate Federal law.”
  • July 10, 2015 – Revised BDCP Plan (now called the “California Water Fix”) was released with only the Tunnel portion. Another plan, “EcoRestore” is the habitat restoration plan. [Comment: Has anyone heard anything about EcoRestore in the last five years? Crickets.]

Ah well, bygones. The list of key milestones presented by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) at the beginning of each of their Single Tunnel Scoping Meetings begins:

  • July 2017 – DWR approved a two-tunnel conveyance project (California WaterFix).
  • February 2019 – Gov. Newsom announced support for a single tunnel conveyance project.

Wait a minute here. That leaves out some very pertinent milestones.

  • November 2018 – The Delta Stewardship Council Staff recommended that WaterFix failed to meet the requirements to be incorporated into the Delta Plan. The certification for the Delta Plan was a requirement before DWR could obtain their permit for the tunnel intakes in the north. The plan should be remanded to DWR to fix. This was a big win for STCDA and others. Why did the Staff say not to sign off on WaterFix?
    • DWR didn’t use the latest “Best Available Science.”
    • The water suppliers hadn’t addressed “Reduce Reliance on the Delta through Improved Regional Water Self- Reliance.”
    • California WaterFix will have a significant adverse environmental impact.
    • WaterFix desn’t meet the Delta flow objectives.
    • And the biggie: WaterFix conflicts with land uses in existing Delta communities, conflicts with existing land uses due to impacts on cultural and historical resources, conflicts with existing Delta parks and recreation uses, traffic impacts, and conflicts with existing land uses due to noise impacts.

    The Staff recommended that the Council remand the matter to the Department for reconsideration.

  • December 2018 – Rather than wait for WaterFix to be officially ruled as “inconsistent” with the Delta Plan (hence unable to be built), DWR withdrew its certification request.

They ignored those two major milestones, significant wins for STCDA.

Then yes, in May 2019 DWR finally withdrew WaterFix. Up until that time, DWR had still been trying to pretend one tunnel would “fix” the problems with the twin tunnels and trying to move forward without writing a new plan or new Environmental Impact Report (EIR). But taken before a judge, it was clear that DWR couldn’t have it both ways. The DWR finally accepted the fact that they would need to write a new plan and a new EIR. In January they issued the Single Tunnel Notice of Preparation.

But wait . . . they didn’t “rewrite” the plan. The new plan has the same issues as the old, rejected plan. How does simply going from two tunnels to one solve the problems? Unless the Eastern Corridor is selected, all of the in-Delta impacts remain the same. And regardless of tunnel route, the impacts to the legacy communities in the North have not been corrected.

As far as “Reduced Reliance on the Delta through Improved Regional Self-Sufficiency,” a tunnel will never do that. A tunnel will increase reliance.

For L.A. to improve regional self-sufficiency, there needs to be a ten-year goal to stop pumping Delta water up over the Tehachapis to L.A. The State Water Project is the biggest consumer of electricity in the state yet, ironically, a priority of the Single Tunnel objectives to address climate change. The Delta water should be replaced with desalination, recycling, and conservation, such as replacing L.A.’s lawns with drought-resistant landscaping.

The Central Valley can reduce reliance on the Delta by desalination for Santa Barbara which now uses Delta water pumped over the coastal range. Some have proposed pumping ocean salt water pumped to the Central Valley to desalination plants there. There are plenty of areas in the Central Valley with damaged land laced with salts and selenium. More salt from a desalination plant will not be an environmental issue there. But of course, the Central Valley’s biggest issue is the loss of their aquifers. The Tulare Lake used to provide a natural percolation pond effect for those wells. At times of high rain, we should implement an approach to recharge ground water. Santa Clara Valley Water District has a good approach using Vasona Lake (water from Lexington Reservoir) as both a percolation pond and a nice park. A Tulare Lake replacement is needed. And, of course, a logical change would be to better manage what crops are right to be grown in the arid desert land there instead of orchards and almonds. To quote Dr. Michael, “As water becomes more scarce, but it may be less costly and more efficient to move crops, farm workers, and capital to more water rich locations in the Valley than it is to move water long distances out of watersheds.”

There are better alternatives to a tunnel that need to be evaluated.

Last Night’s “No Tunnel” meeting in Brentwood

First – a big thank you for everyone who showed up. We overfilled the room, standing room only. At least 100 people. We will post the pictures of the gathering before the meeting with our “No Tunnel” signs and banners.

Second, a big thank you to everyone who got up and made comments. The comments were awesome.

And last but not least, a huge thank you to our champion, Michael Brodsky, STCDA’s Legal Council, who drove up from the Santa Cruz area to attend the meeting.

Here is a video clip (thanks to Bill Wells) from last night’s meeting with Michael Brodsky, STCDA Legal Council, making his comments. Brodsky stated that he wants to propose alternatives that fully achieve the project objectives where a tunnel doesn’t and with much less environmental impact than the tunnel.

Here is the entire video, thanks to Gene Beley.

The stated [Single Tunnel] project objectives are:
First, to mitigate the effect of levee failure in case of earthquake which would cause salt water to rush in and endanger water supplies. The alternative to a tunnel is the common sense answer of strengthening the levees including with setback levees and channel margin habitat that have an environmental benefit and a dual benefit of protecting water supplies.

The second objective of the project is to mitigate sea level rise caused by climate change. That can be mitigated in several ways, the most obvious of which is to allow more water to flow through the Delta and out to the sea to push back salt water. And where does that water come from? It comes from stopping exporting water over the Tehachapi Mountains which also achieves the project objective of making the SWP deliveries more reliable. They’re not reliable because you’ve promised too much water in too many places.

Why do we stop it over the Tehachapis? Because the State Water Project consumes all of the electricity generated by all of California’s hydroelectric dams plus 4 or 5 billion kilowatts of gas fired carbon-emitting power each year. The State Water Project is a climate atrocity. Gavin Newsom has to face up to that. You are required by the Public Trust Doctrine to exercise a continuing duty of supervision in the public interest. And it’s obvious that the place of use in your water rights permits south of the Tehachapi Mountains must be amended so that that place of use is eliminated.

So one of the portfolio elements will contain a planned retreat from exports south of the Tehachapi Mountains, phased out over ten years.

Other elements that are included that do not include a tunnel, as I mentioned before, would be flooding some of the islands, some of the islands the levees can be strengthen, others can be sacrificed and those islands can be flooded for habitat and also as a barrier to salt water intrusion.

And you weren’t telling the truth when you said decisions weren’t made. The Notice of Preparation defines the range of alternatives. It has been written to exclude everything except Delta conveyance. So the major decisions have been made before you go to these scoping meetings.

But we are going to insist that you study non-tunnel alternatives.

What will L.A. do without the Delta water?

Many comments addressed this, and stressed that with California bordering the ocean, an obvious solution is desalination and other more modern technologies than a tunnel.

Jan McCleery’s comments included this:
In 2009 (prior to the WaterFix/Twin Tunnels) the BDCP rejected the desalination alternative saying it was too expensive. In 2013, Dr. Jeffrey Michaels at the University of the Pacific wrote about advancements in desalination technology making it cheaper and more effective. It’s now 2020. The EIR should study as an alternative to a tunnel, a retreat from exporting Delta water over the Tehachapis, replacing that water with new sources from desalination, recycling, conservation, and replacing lawns with desert landscaping. In other words, LA should reduce reliance on the Delta through improved regional self-reliance. Replacing lawns with desert landscaping would save more water than is annually diverted from the Delta. This is common sense conservation.

(Note: The 2009 Delta Plan requires “reduced reliance on the Delta through improved regional self-reliance.)

Side-Note about Reservoir and Habitat Islands

Mr. Brodsky referred to islands in the Delta that can be flooded or used for habitat. Four Delta Islands were purchased in 2016 by Metropolitan Water District were initially purchased as part of a project where two would be flooded as in-Delta reservoirs (Bacon Island and Webb Tract) and two would be modified as habitat islands (Holland Tract and Bouldin Island). See map below:

Metropolitan Water District put out a glossy describing what they planned to do with these islands to improve the Delta:

Of course, none of that has happened.

DCA Engineer said not to worry about gas fields in the tunnel route

Say what?

The “Central Corridor” tunnel route goes through the largest natural gas field in California, the Rio Vista gas fields. At the Stakeholder Engagement Committee Meeting on Wednesday, February 12, Karen Mann, South Delta Local Business representative, asked the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority (DCA) engineer about how they tunnel through gas fields.

She asked, “Don’t you build a tunnel in a straight line?”
Kathryn Mallon, lead DCA Engineer, answered, “Yes that is what we like to do.”
Karen then asked, “What happens if you accidentally pierce a gas or water pocket underground.”
The engineer presenting the slides replied that the gas was 1,000 feet underground so no worry.

Really?


Rio Vista Gas Fields

DCA is an organization established by the water contractors, primarily Metropolitan Water District (MWD), assigned to work on the design of the Single Tunnel project.

MWD has a history of ignoring risks. MWD ignored warnings of gas fields when tunneling the Sylmar Tunnel from the Castaic Reservoir (which is Delta water) to L.A. First came the smell of gas, then the blast that killed 17 miners deep beneath the San Fernando Valley neighborhood of Sylmar.

MWD is again ignoring the risk.

For more details on tunneling through gas fields, please see California Water Research’s report on Tunnel Construction and Gas Wells

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?

REMINDER ***CALLING ALL HANDS

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.


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