Archive for the 'Tunnel(s)' Category

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.


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.


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:
  • Barbara Keegan, Director – District 2:
  • Richard P. Santos, Director – District 3 and 2017 Vice Chair:,
  • Linda J. LeZotte, Director – District 4:
  • Nai Hsueh, Director – District 5:
  • Tony Estremera, Director – District 6:
  • Gary Kremen, Director – District 7:

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

End-of-Year News

In the news: Hurdle with L.A. Water District buying Delta Islands; Ground Water Table Collapse; Sites Reservoir; Sites, Temperance Flat, Raising Shasta.


Hurdle with L.A. Water District buying Delta Islands

A controversial plan that would put Southern California’s most powerful water agency in control of a group of Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta islands has run into a potentially significant hurdle. Yea! Hopefully it ends up being more of a roadblock, than just a “hurdle.” There’s no good in Metropolitan Water District (L.A.’s water district) owning Delta farm islands.

Ground Water Table Collapse

This is why, during the worst four years of drought in California’s history, the profit from almonds continued to rise, year over year. Instead of cutting back on the amount of almond orchards, the farmers have recklessly over-pumped the ground water. U.S. Geological Survey researchers later called the sinking land in the Central Valley, one of the “single largest alterations of the land surface attributed to humankind. (Not to mention, communities in the Central Valley are completely without water due to their wells going dry.)

Sites Reservoir

The SacBee editorial today recommends using Water Bond money for the Sites reservoir, to aid the environment, the Delta, and, by the way, the farmers. I remain skeptical.

First, they say “Proper operation of the reservoir would have downstream benefits for the Delta, waterfowl habitat and for fisheries.” There’s my worry. Until the state proves itself able to operate the system in-place now, I do not agree with adding another reservoir to flow through the Delta to Clifton Court Forebay, further impacting salmon runs. They managed the system horribly during these four years of drought. Let’s first reduce acreage to match available water, then talk about whether more dams make sense. Besides, dams end up reducing water until they are full. Building the Friant Dam is what destroyed the San Joaquin salmon runs. I’d vote to restore the Tulare Lake Basin, a natural lake in the Central Valley which used to recharge the aquifers.

Second, they say the bond would only cover a portion of the cost. While they say farmers and urban users should pay, they also recommend congress and “environmental organizations” pay. Why should congress pay for more water for ag when there is a continued, irresponsible expansion of almond orchards for profit? Also, aren’t all environmental organizations non-profits? It’s also not for urban users – it’s to continue to expand almonds.
I vote for regional self-sufficiency, ground water recharge where it’s needed, in the Central Valley, and better ag water recycling/clean-up.

Sites Reservoir, Temperance Flats, Raising Shasta

Here’s another article about Sites and other dams the Central Valley growers are pushing for, despite multibillion dollar price tags and studies that show the new reservoirs would do little to boost the state’s overall water supplies.
Jay Lund, director of the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, says: “It makes more sense, Lund said, to modify the operation of existing dams so they capture and release more winter flows for long-term storage in the ground, replenishing the state’s overtaxed aquifers for use in future droughts.”
I agree with him. The main problem with reservoir management during the drought was that way too much was released in the first few years of the drought. We need to replenish the aquifers as the real long-term solution.

Battling over Delta Water

The State Water Agencies are pushing the State Water Board to abandon the effort to ensure sufficient water flows through the Delta to aid fish and for local use. They say the drought years have shown there just isn’t enough water to satisfy all of the “beneficial uses” of the Delta.

Well, yes – if you expand almond and other trees as far into the desert as possible until the water runs out, there won’t be enough water. Especially when such mismanagement occurred and an excess of water was exported from the North to the South during the first few years of the drought “assuming” the drought would not last long. There’s not even enough water in the ground to satisfy the expanded orchards. Yet, like the year before, 2014 was a record year for almond production. The orchards continued in 2015.

The Delta Flows Report produced in 2009 by the SWRCB and Bay Institute per the Legislature’s request, identified that for many years prior to 2009, the exporters had been removing more water from the Delta than required to protect the salmon runs and keep the Delta healthy. A broad coalition of environmental, fishing, environmental justice, and tribal organizations, including STCDA and many others, have signed onto a letter spearheaded by Bill Jennings, California Sportsfishing Protection Alliance and a long-term Delta supporter. The letter to Felicia Marcus at the State Water Board, urges her to reject the demand by water agencies to abandon the ‘unimpaired flow’ approach in the update of the State Board’s update to the Delta’s water quality control plan.

The letter states: “Recent modeling demonstrates that a percent-of-unimpaired flow approach is feasible. It is also equitable and the fairest approach to protecting the public trust and other beneficial uses because it asks for a fair-share commitment of flow from all tributary streams. It will reward those who wisely conserve and promote water use efficiency and penalize those who recklessly overspend their share of water.”

The question that must be asked is about what crops we’re growing where, and on what land.

See the entire Unimpaired Flows Letter here.

Submit your comments by October 30!

Where to send your comments:
Email comments to

    (Note: Because the comments are going to a consultant, not an official entity, STCDA suggests sending a BCC copy for safekeeping to our NoDeltaGates site – optional).

BDCP/California WaterFix Comments
P.O. Box 1919
Sacramento, CA 95812

(NOTE: You can send in as many comments as you want, in as many different emails/letters)

Comment topic suggestions. Phrase your comments “I am opposed to the Delta Tunnels because:”

  1. The benefits do not match the cost. According to Dr. Jeff Michael, University of the Pacific, the estimated benefits for the project drop by $10 billion without regulatory assurance for water deliveries so that costs EXCEED benefits by at least $8 billion. The costs will be born by farmers and urban ratepayers. Since there is no added water, urban ratepayers obtain no benefit.
  2. The rural and urban rate payers should be notified of the expected rate increases and vote approval, like any tax increase.
  3. If farmers must pay for more costly water, they have stated they will need to convert to profitable crops like almonds to ship to Asia. Californians will not have fresh produce on their own tables.
  4. The tunnels do not provide for any additional water in a drought after prior water rights and public trust needs are met. During many years, they are likely to be dry. Other alternatives do produce more water.
  5. The California WaterFix does not help reduce reliance on Delta imports as mandated by the 2009 Delta Reform Act.
  6. San Francisco Bay-Delta business, tourism, fishing, and farming communities cannot trust that the tunnels will be operated in a manner to protect our interest, especially because the State Water Resources Control Board, the Department of Water Resources, and the Bureau of Reclamation have allowed for the waiving and weakening of Delta water quality standards and species protections during the drought, endangering numerous Delta species and bringing some to the precipice of extinction.
  7. The California EcoRestore is not part of the California WaterFix. Hence the California WaterFix does not meet the coequal goals required by the 2009 Delta Reform Act. Even if the EcoRestore were included, it does little more than meet the existing mitigation for prior damage, and does not mitigate for the new damage that will be caused by tunnel construction and by removing water that otherwise would flow through Delta.
  8. The route selected is the worst alternative that could be selected since it does not protect Delta farm communities and Delta recreation as required by the 2009 Delta Reform Act. It is only the cheapest. A construction project through the heart of the Delta, through the sensitive estuary and loud pounding through bird habitats for years is not the way to protect the fish or fowl. Instead, the alternative to route the tunnels far east, by I-5, should replace the current route.
  9. Construction plans include de-watering Delta farmers’ wells for years, making farming and living in their homes not possible. Yet there is no provision to provide renumeration to them.
  10. Barges and construction for years through recreational waterways is not the way to protect Delta recreation. The route to save the estuary, would be to route the tunnels far East, by I-5.

Protests at the Tunnel Meetings

Videos of the event by Gene Beley, Central Valley Business Times

The scene was like something from the 1960s at Berkeley. Hundreds crowded onto the sidewalk in front of the Sacramento Grand Sheraton were protesting to an unlistening governor bent on building water tunnels. Videos of the Sacramento Protests and Walnut Grove and write-up thanks to Gene Beley.

I would have loved to have been there! Glad Gene took full video for us to see.

See the videos and full report in the Central Valley Business Time’s article, Hundreds make final protest of governor’s tunnels.

Sacramento Signs
Brown's Big LieWalnut Grove Signs
Photos by Gene Beley

Revised Delta Tunnels EIR Further Worsens The Project’s Already Lousy Economics

Dr. Jeff Michaels weighs in on the revised BDCP Plan’s economics.

  1. The new plan drops the 50-year permit, and any notion of regulatory assurances about future water deliveries. This change has already been revealed and discussed, but its importance to the economics can not be understated. According to the State’s BDCP consultants, the regulatory assurance was the basis for over half of the economic value of the Tunnels to the water exporters’ who would finance them. As I have discussed repeatedly (see here, here, and here for examples), the already flimsy economic case for the Tunnels completely falls apart without the regulatory assurance. It drops the estimated benefits by nearly $10 billion.

  2. The average annual incremental water yield with the tunnels compared to “No Action” has dropped by 135,000 acre feet(af).

  3. The new plan shows the estimated construction period has grown from 10 to 14 years. It’s buried in the Appendices. An extra 4 years of waiting to receive any economic benefits (while accumulating financing costs) will further reduce the benefit-cost ratio.

In 2012, Dr. Michaels estimated an economic loss of $5 billion. He now revises his estimate to a loss of $8 billion.

If the State’s PR put out “real” messaging

If the State’s PR put out “real” messaging it would read something like this:

INSTEAD, as Burt Wilson correctly points out in his blog “Oh no! Not Again!”, here’s the state’s PR piece about the Delta Tunnels:

Burt says, “Just when we thought that the California Water Fix” (aka BDCP Delta Tunnels plan) “had come up with the dumbest campaign ever, they have gone and topped themselves.” He goes on to say break down why their PR is so wrong:

“We know,” they say (as if they are the only ones who can figure out their own campaign) “that California’s aging (there’s that word again. I think they mean that it’s as old as the governor!) water distribution infrastructure makes (they put in a verb here as if the water infrastructure can act!) dry years in our state even worse.” Can you believe this? The static water infrastructure can act to make dry years even worse?

And do you wonder how our aging infrastructure can “strain” our water supply? Once more they throw words to the wind as if they were meaningless–which this campaign is, by the way.

Is this what their PR agency is actually being paid for? I wish they would tell us how our aging infrastructure makes our dry years even worse!”

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