Archive for the 'Tunnel(s)' 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.

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.

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.

Don’t Rip Up the Delta! Tunnel Maps show the New Plan is the same as the Old Plan

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR, or “the State”) released limited detail with their recent Single Tunnel Notice of Preparation (NOP). But the map they did release is very worrisome.

Our new Tunnel Maps page under More Info… consolidates in one place the “new” Single Tunnel map, all of the old maps we have submitted over the years, plus we’ll add new maps as we receive them.

This blog is a review of the issues with WaterFix (which were backed up by expert testimonies). But before the Judge could rule in our behalf in the Spring of 2019, DWR took their WaterFix and ran. Now they are back with the same old plan. (And one new variation.) So let’s review the facts.

In the North Delta

There is virtually no change to three proposed tunnel intake locations that would destroy the historic community of Hood and significant impact to Clarksburg and Courtland. (Only two intakes would be built, but the State omitted sharing which two.) Delta representatives proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that WaterFix would be disastrous to those communities. The town of Hood would be overrun by pumps and construction for 13 years! Pile driving 24×7 would mean the kids in the Clarksburg school right across the river couldn’t hear their teachers voices for 13 years! Old historical communities like Locke could not withstand the vibrations of construction trucks roaring 24×7 down their narrow roads. The Delta Protection Committee said WaterFix would cause “blight” on these communities. Significant impact.

Condemnation.

What we deserve is details from the DWR about how this new plan would protect and enhance the historic legacy communities in the North.

In the South Delta

The State is still considering the destructive Through-Delta Alignment (now renamed the “Central Corridor”). STCDA brought expert witnesses to testify that the main highways throughout Contra Costa County would be gridlocked with construction trucks. The complete gridlock that would occur throughout CCC would make it impossible for Delta farmers to get their produce to market safely and would block products, services, and commuters from traveling between CCC and Stockton.


Check out the big rig stuck on Twin Cities Road. It’s one of the haul routes for the Delta tunnel. The Delta and its narrow levee highways are no place for construction trucks!

To compound the issues, the State planned to use barges throughout the waterways. The large tugs pushing the barges would require Delta bridges to open, such as Highway 4 that now doesn’t open would have approximately eight openings per day. The logistics of a huge construction project in an area of farm islands surrounded by waterways and minimal roads was obviously never studied by the DWR.


The Delta is no place for Construction and Cement Trucks – Wheels up!

Our maps specifically point out key waterways important for Delta boating and recreation coupled with the construction destruction maps in the WaterFix plan for those favorite waterways. We’ve repeatedly try to make the DWR consider favorite boating and recreation waterways and the impact of losing those to the boating communities in the Delta.

But the barges, huge docks, and 24×7 construction plan ignored testimonies that proved the barges and construction would basically shut down boating in the Delta for 13 years. Marinas would close, boaters would go elsewhere, boating and fishing communities would be economically ruined. This was proven. Yet their new plan has the old destructive Through-Delta route as one of the alternatives still on the table.

The State should review our maps, not ignore them

The Delta communities have spent ten years explaining to the DWR why their WaterFix plan was unconscionable. Now they are starting scoping meeting asking us to tell them once again?

To review the maps

Review the maps to be reminded why the Through-Delta or “Central Corridor” work will destroy the South Delta. Click Tunnel Maps page under More Info… This information has been part of STCDA’s formal comments and testimonies for ten years.

A new Eastern Corridor alternative?

The NOP includes a tunnel route further east, the “Eastern Corridor.” The details are missing on their map.

In Summary

The State owes us a report detailing that route and detailing the logistics of trucks and supplies to that new Eastern route: Will they still flood the waterways with barges and the small Delta levee roads with construction trucks? Or do they have a more viable construction plan. That is the information Delta communities deserve to hear from the DWR in the scoping meetings to know how bad the impacts are from an Eastern Route.

Regardless, there is no change between Central or Eastern route for the North Delta legacy communities (the intake locations are the same either way). And it is unclear how either route would affect Victoria Canal, one of the important recreational sloughs for the South Delta.

Public Scoping Meetings

The list of scoping meetings is maintained on our Event Tracker tab. They are also listed below.

Single Tunnel Public Scoping meetings are scheduled to take place at the following times and locations:

  • Monday, February 3, 2020, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. California Environmental Protection Agency Building, 1001 I Street, Sacramento
  • Wednesday, February 5, 2020, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Junipero Serra State Building, 320 West Fourth Street, Los Angeles
  • Monday, February 10, 2020, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Jean Harvie Community Center, 14273 River Road, Walnut Grove
  • Wednesday, February 12, 2020, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Santa Clara Valley Water District Board Room, 5750 Almaden Expressway, San Jose
  • Thursday, February 13, 2020, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. San Joaquin Council of Governments Board Room, 555 Weber Avenue, Stockton
  • Wednesday, February 19, 2020, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Clarksburg Middle School Auditorium, 52870 Netherlands Road, Clarksburg
  • Thursday, February 20, 2020, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Brentwood Community Center Conference Room, 35 Oak Street, Brentwood

Anyone interested in more information concerning the EIR process, or anyone who has information concerning the study or suggestions as to significant issues, should contact Marcus Yee at (916) 651-6736

The fight is back on for the Delta

We are disappointed in the Notice of Preparation (“NOP”) issued by DWR on January 15 for a single tunnel through the Delta. The NOP starts the official planning and environmental review process for the tunnel.

It seems that when it comes to water and the Delta, our state government never learns. The massive intakes for the new tunnel are situated in the same place, on top of fragile Delta legacy communities. Thousands of trips through Delta sloughs by huge barges and tug boats, ruining Delta boating, are still planned; thousands of trips by big rigs on narrow Delta roads are still planned; and tens of millions of tons of tunnel muck are still set to be dumped on Delta islands.

The supposed reasons for the tunnel have changed. DWR has finally given up on the ridiculous argument that a tunnel would save the Delta environment and make our water cleaner. Now it is sea level rise and earthquake risk that justify a tunnel. If the levees collapse in an earthquake, DWR reasons, then salt water will rush into the Delta from the bay and leave Southern California without fresh water from the Delta. Likewise, as sea level rises due to climate change salt water will push further into the Delta, eventually reaching the export pumps near Tracy. So moving the intakes upstream to Hood will guarantee a source of fresh water even after the Delta is ruined by salt water.

But what about our Delta farmers who depend on our fresh water Delta to water their crops? And the native Delta fish that need fresh water to survive? Neither seems to matter DWR. And a tunnel diverting water upstream will make the effects of sea level rise worse, depriving the Delta of fresh water and making whatever level of salt water intrusion occurs much worse. The appropriate response to sea level rise is to let more water flow downstream, not less.

DWR has made the decision to build a tunnel while non-tunnel common sense alternatives, such as strengthening the levees and weaning Southern California off of Delta water by developing local and regional supplies through conservation, water recycling, and desalination are not included for consideration.

All in all a very bad day for the Delta. Looks like the fight is on all over again.

Mamma Mia – Here we go again . . . The Single Tunnel Project kicks off

BREAKING NEWS – Single Tunnel Notice of Preparation Released

The Department of Water Resource’s (DWRs) Notice of Preparation came out today – announcing the kick-off of the single tunnel project. Here is the PDF of the full NOP.

Groan.

Save the California Delta Alliance) was formed because of the 2009 Two-Gates project that threatened to shut off boating between Discovery Bay and the rest of the Delta. The community responded. We stopped the unstoppable Two-Gates Project.

Done? Oh, no. Then there was the peripheral canal project that morphed into the California WaterFix Twin Tunnels. After eight years we won again – two-tunnel project was withdrawn.

So now, Mamma Mia here we go again. The DWR just released a Notice of Preparation to begin the process anew.

2010 – We stopped the Two-Gates
2019 – We stopped the Twin Tunnels
2020 – We will stop the One Tunnel
            Then there will be zero tunnels!
 

We are asking for your help one more time. Help us put this final project away.

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

Please Donate

The Five Delta County Coalition also slammed the NOP

“It’s been 11 years since the introduction of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan Twin Tunnels proposal, and nearly a year since Governor Newsom’s withdrawal of California WaterFix Twin Tunnels project. It appears DWR is pursuing another inadequate and scientifically flawed project with one tunnel.

See their response here: 2020-01-15_Tunnel_NOP_statement

Santa Clara Water Users Foot the Bill

Who will foot the bill for continued planning for the Delta Tunnels? Not who you think. Santa Clara Valley Water rate payers (and no others) will be subsidizing Jerry Brown’s boondoggle to help Big Ag plant more and more almond orchards. If you don’t already know it, the Delta Tunnels will devastate Delta communities, farms, and fish, primarily to benefit Big Ag.

Driving down I-5 yesterday, I was astounded to see all of the new plantings for orchards on both sides of the highway, as far as the eye can see. During the four years during the drought, the acres of almond orchards continued to increase, as did profits from selling almonds to Asia. More money year after year. (The ones who lost were the poor communities in the Central Valley who saw the ground water they relied on for drinking and showering become polluted or even dried up.)

If you live in Santa Clara Valley, you may be the ones paying for the Delta Tunnels! The tunnel construction project will devastate the waterways in the Delta and end result will be stagnant, polluted water in the Delta so that the fresh water can be diverted to grow more almonds in the desert lands in the Central Valley. This project makes no sense, mainly benefits the big corporate growers, and will devastate communities in the Delta. Communities like Discovery Bay will be destroyed. The ripple effects will destroy the entire Delta estuary and pollute the San Francisco Bay.

That’s right! If you live in or near the following cities, you may be a ratepayer funding Governor Brown’s Delta Tunnel boondoggle: Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos, Milpitas, Morgan Hill, Mountain View, Palo Alto, San Jose (especially in Alviso), Santa Clara, Saratoga, Sunnyvale.

What will you get out of this deal? Not more water. The promise of the tunnels is to extract the fresher water further north from the Sacramento River, water that has not been polluted by the Central Valley farm runoff like the San Joaquin currently is. So Metropolitan Water District (that serves LA), Santa Clara, and other water districts would get access to the cleaner water and would have less filtering to do to make it available as drinking water. Do you think you, the rate payers, will then get reduced water rates? Actually, it’s more likely your water district will increase rates due to these tunnel costs and pocket any cost reductions they realize in the future.

Please contact your Santa Clara Valley Water District Board Member and let them know of your opposition to funding for more planning of CA WaterFix (the Delta tunnels). Let them know of your disappointment in backroom deals and resolutions that contradict state Board policy to the public.Let them know of your disappointment in backroom deals and resolutions that contradict state Board policy to the public.

According to the latest meeting materials from the San Luis Delta-Mendota Water Authority (SLDMWA), it appears that Santa Clara Valley Water District was the only Delta-Mendota member agency that voted to provide the Department of Water Resources with additional funding for the Planning Phase of California WaterFix. This after Santa Clara Valley Water District Board Members have stated at public meetings that they were not going forward with CA WaterFix planning until a finance plan was made available for the project and after further public discussion.

The Delta-Mendoza Water Agency had $4.26M of existing debt financing that had not been used, yet, all the other member Agencies apparently would not agree to use their share of that money for continued planning costs, which means urban ratepayers are paying for the Delta tunnels planning costs for Big Ag water districts.

Please let your Board member know that you object to Santa Clara Valley Water District ratepayers paying for Delta tunnels planning costs for big agricultural water districts like Westlands Water District — which has a history of literally getting other government agencies to pay their way.

Send your comments to:

  • John L. Varela – District 1 and 2017 Chair: jvarela@valleywater.org
  • Barbara Keegan, Director – District 2: bkeegan@valleywater.org
  • Richard P. Santos, Director – District 3 and 2017 Vice Chair: board@valleywater.org,rsantos@valleywater.org
  • Linda J. LeZotte, Director – District 4: LLeZotte@valleywater.org
  • Nai Hsueh, Director – District 5: nhsueh@valleywater.org
  • Tony Estremera, Director – District 6: testremera@valleywater.org
  • Gary Kremen, Director – District 7: gkremen@valleywater.org

Thanks to our friends at Restore the Delta for alerting us to this issue.


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