Holiday Message from STCDA


Happy Holidays from Save the California Delta Alliance!

2020 certainly has been an interesting year for new experiences, time to bond at home and learning to “Zoom”. It is our sincerest hope that you and your loved ones have been able to cope and have remained healthy!

In spite of the rest of us having to endure “Stay In Place” orders – the State of California (and all the committees relating to the Tunnel Project), the Southern California Metropolitan Water District and their engineers have been pushing forward. Save the California Delta Alliance has a seat on the Stakeholders Engagement Committee (SEC). We Stakeholders earnestly tried to push the meetings to a time when we could meet in person with our community (via Town Hall meetings) for your input about the information we are asked to bring to you. However, we were advised by the Head Engineer, Kathryn Mallon, that they would move forward with or without us Stakeholders even during the Covid-19 pandemic. At this point they have presented to the SEC three options for the single 40’ diameter tunnel. Even though, the tunnel will be 150’ below surface – we and the Town of Discovery Bay have major concerns regarding the natural gas and artesian water well locations, which have not yet been mapped out (seems like a big deal to me!). Unfortunately, we have not had ANY change in the location of the intakes which will decimate the historic Hood area, even though many of us Stakeholders have begged them to reconsider the intake locations and/or designs.

The bottom line is we wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support both financially and emotionally. We are expecting a new order of signs after the first of the year and we would love to deliver your signs for your home, business, and dock area.

During the last year, the STCDA legal counsel, Michael Brodsky, has been working behind the scenes in research and developing the case to fight the tunnel again. His last visit to the Court resulted in a victorious outcome – unfortunately, the war continues. Your donations will be appreciated to assist us in defraying the costs of insurance, signage, expert witnesses, and other expenses incurred.

This is not a battle won overnight and your help will be appreciated for the next victory. We don’t think residents in the area want a project which ships Delta fresh water to Southern California. During the last SEC meeting I asked if the engineering plan for the water conveyance is like a “TOILET” – all the engineers laughed hysterically and agreed that’s EXACTLY what the proposed plans are like. Our historic California Delta is NOT a TOILET! This TOILET will result in danger to future fishing, farming, drinking water, increased heavy equipment resulting in noise and traffic congestion with no apparent benefit to the residence and users of the California Delta. Please continue to help us fight this battle.

Again, thank you for your continued support and encouragement in this battle to Stop the Tunnel. Even One Tunnel is too many!

Happy Holidays,

Karen J. Mann, President 2020
Save the California Delta Alliance (STCDA)

Karen’s Holiday Message PDF

A Revolt against the Tunnel Process – The SEC is a sham.


The Delta Conveyance Design & Construction Authority (DCA) has touted that they are running an open and transparent process engaging Delta community input via the “Shareholder Engagement Committee (SEC).” But two of the Committee members have sharp words for the SEC process: Karen Mann, STCDA President representing South Delta local businesses on the SEC, and Angelica Whaley representing North Delta legacy communities. Others who have followed the SEC meetings including Bill Wells, Executive Director of the California Delta Chambers and Visitors Bureau, and the Recreational Boaters of California (RBOC) echoed their complaints.

Karen Mann rightly referred to the methods being used by the DCA to control the SEC as Orwellian, saying: “Franz Kafka and George Orwell would both blush at the masterful barrage of bureaucratic mind control deployed by the DCA, as reflected in the glossy reports and minutes produced by you. Make no mistake, we understand that the purpose of these materials is to mislead Governor Newsom and ultimately the courts into thinking you have meaningfully engaged with Delta stakeholders when you have not.”

It’s worth the read – here is an excerpt:

I recently saw a letter from Angelica Whaley, dated September 23, 2020, taking issue with the failure of the SEC to give any real consideration to the concerns of Delta Stakeholders so far.

I agree that this committee has not meaningfully addressed any of the concerns of Delta Stakeholders. We have been strangled by your rules that do not allow us to talk about the things that are really important to us and then barraged with a mass of hyper-technical deta Is about tunnel construction that we are asked to comment on.

I think it is fair to say that 80% of the materials presented to the Stakeholder Committee by the construction engineers are not well understood by committee members, thus further limiting any comment to minor items such as the location of a particular access shaft or barge landing because this kind of item is really the only thing that is presented in a way that is understandable by a layperson.

Franz Kafka and George Orwell would both blush at the masterful barrage of bureaucratic mind control deployed by the DCA, as reflected in the glossy reports and minutes produced by you. Make no mistake, we understand that the purpose of these materials is to mislead Governor Newsom and ultimately the courts into thinking you have meaningfully engaged with Delta stakeholders when you have not.

Back in 2019, when DWR abandoned California Waterfix, DWR Director Nemeth issued a series of proclamations regarding the single-tunnel project promising that the “Newsom administration wants to engage with Delta communities to hear their ideas and concerns.” This Committee is supposed to carry that out. But you have not allowed us to speak our ideas and concerns at all.

Instead, you tell us that anything we want to discuss is part of the CEQA process and not to be discussed at these meetings. So where is the Newsom Administration’s effort to engage with Delta communities to hear their ideas and concerns? It doesn’t exist.

She ends with these strong closing words:

Read Karen’s entire letter here…

Angelica’s letter raises the ongoing concerns about about where the North intakes would be built. STCDA and North Delta representatives successfully argued that location would destroy legacy communities and have other major impacts. The intake location was one of the main reasons that WaterFix (the Twin Tunnel project) was rejected by the Delta Stewardship Council. Yet as DWR began planning for the Single Tunnel, the Intakes were in the same location! The SEC has not been allowed to offer any alternative locations.

Other letters condemning the DCA’s SEC approach:

Bill Wells’ “Water Fraud Update” for December

A great write-up in the December 2020 Bay & Delta Yachtsman magazine by Bill Wells on the latest “WaterFraud Update”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requested comments on the Delta Conveyance Project plan to divert the Sacramento River around the Delta with a tunnel starting at Hood. Michael Brodsky, an attorney for the Save the California Delta Alliance submitted six pages of comments explaining why the project should be stopped. The Delta Chambers, Delta Legacy Communities and many other organizations and individuals submitted comments too, explaining what a bad idea the project is.

[NOTE: Here is Michael Brodsky’s six page letter sent to the ACOE plus all of the attachments.]

Here is an excerpt from Michael Brodsky’s comments, it will give you the idea of what is going on: “DWR has settled on two intakes, intakes #3 and #5, both located adjacent to the small low-income minority community of Hood. No alternative intake locations are considered or have been seriously considered. Please see Attachment 4 for a graphic depiction of intakes #3 and #5 looming over and dwarfing the small town of Hood. Attachment 4 was prepared for hearings on the former California WaterFix, but the location of intakes #3 and #5 has not changed. DWR believes that it has existing water rights at these locations and therefore its SWRCB process would be a Petition for a change in the point of diversion. If it locates the intakes anywhere else, its SWRCB process would be the initiation of a new water right, a somewhat higher bar to pass. This administrative convenience for DWR does not excuse the environmental justice atrocity being perpetrated on Hood. Hood will be destroyed by the multi-year construction activity needed to build these two intakes. The town will be largely abandoned and residents who remain will suffer irreparable harm. The injury to Hood and insult to principals of environmental justice is all the more acute because DWR recently concluded that intake #2 be eliminated from consideration because of the community impacts on the small town of Clarksburg. Attachment 5 is DWR’s statement of unacceptable impacts on Clarksburg with no mention of Hood. The impacts on Clarksburg were significant and unacceptable in their own right but less than on Hood. Clarksburg is more prosperous and more white than Hood and one wonders aloud, if the lesser impacts on Clarksburg were an unacceptable imposition on that community why are greater impacts being imposed on the less prosperous community of Hood acceptable to DWR? Intakes #3 and #5 must not be placed at these locations. They must be moved.

“The Application should be rejected for the reasons stated above. If not rejected out of hand, then a reasonable range of alternatives not considered by DWR should be included in the Corps-prepared EIS.”

Ironically the DWR recently sent a “Social Justice” survey out to many Delta Area taxpayers to see if they wanted a western alignment or a more easterly alignment of the tunnel. To me “Social Justice” would be to stop the project and use the billions of dollars saved to help get California’s economy going again.

Apparently, there is some skullduggery going on at the Stakeholder Engagement Committee. We keep hearing of “Community Development” funds that will become available to groups that support the tunnel. One fellow from the North Delta told us that there could be $150 million available if the community supported diverting the river. Another fellow from Bethel Island said that there could be $300 million available for tunnel supporters and only maybe $5 million available if the tunnel is not supported. Other SEC members are tightlipped about the funds. An attorney friend of mine says this sounds a lot like Quid Pro Quo and possibly illegal. I am sure we will be finding out more about this in the future.

His complete article about other Delta happenings is here: Bay & Delta Yachtsman Magazine.

ACTION ALERT – Send Emails Today

IMPORTANT ACTION ALERT – PLEASE SEND EMAILS.

Tomorrow (Tuesday, December 8) is the Metropolitan Water District vote on Funding the Next Phase of the Delta Tunnel. This is an important milestone.

You can help influence the vote by sending an email to MWD today or early tomorrow urging the Board of Directors to vote NO on continuing the tunnel efforts!

TO: The Metropolitan Water District Board of Directors.
Email: dl-boardsupportteam@mwdh2o.com

and OfficeoftheGeneralManager@mwdh2o.com

BCC: volunteers@NoDeltaGates.com (This will allow us to track the number of emails MWD is receiving from us)

Subject: Vote NO on Funding the Next Phase of the Delta Tunnel

In your emails, please say you are a member of the Save the California Delta Alliance as well as any other comments you want to make. We want MWD to know it’s our STCDA members who are so strongly opposing this project. Let them know STCDA, who has been such a vocal opponent to their tunnel project for years, is still here, protecting the Delta, strongly opposed to their continued efforts.

I’m sure you all have comments to make that are especially important to you: From construction impacts including boating and recreation impacts of a construction project through the Delta (destroying wetlands, Delta farms, etc.) to the long-term water quality issues that will occur from diverting the cleaner Sacramento River water around the Delta instead of flowing through it.

Or you can simply tell them STCDA members urge you to vote “No.”

As always, your help is appreciated.

Thank you!

If you use Twitter, you can tweet to MWD at @mwdh2o and Board Chair Gloria Gray at @GloriaDGray and tells them to VOTE NO on the tunnel.

Tunnel Construction Noise Preview

This was posted on Delta Concern’s Facebook Page by representatives of Hood, CA. Hood will be ground zero for the tunnel construction in the North … intakes are planned on both sides of the little 300 person community.

These are comments from the Ring App regarding pile driving from CalTrans fixing an over pass on I-5 and 43rd Ave. The initial commenter lives near the Executive Airport. People in Meadowview and Greenhaven are complaining about the sound. They’re 2-3 miles away. One can only imagine what the tunnel project will be like. It’s massively larger and won’t be muffled by houses.

STCDA hired an expert sound witness to testify at the SWRCB WaterFix Permit Hearings and at the Delta Stewardship Council about the level of noise that would be occurring during the years that they build the intakes and pumping facility practically on top of Hood, CA. He testified it would be so unbearable that the children across the river in Clarksburg would not be able to hear the sound of their teacher’s voice … for years. It won’t be livable in Hood unless they relocate those intakes. The Delta Protection Committee complained it would cause “blight” on the legacy communities. Yet their “new, improved” plan still has the intakes located on both sides of Hood. Construction will also be disrupting some American Indian sacred sites and protected waterfowl areas.

Stakeholder Engagement Committee (SEC) members have complained to the DCA (group designing the tunnel) numerous times about the location of those intakes and the construction and long-term impact on Hood and other legacy towns nearby. Apparently the Department of Water Resources (DWR), who is in charge of the tunnel project, hold an existing water right for a diversion in that area and they don’t want to get another water right. That hardly seems like a good reason for causing blight on legacy communities.

Delta on the Edge

This is a great article about all aspects of the Delta … the small towns, farmers, boaters, etc.

It is frustrating when they cite Peter Moyle, a biologist at UC Davis who has long studied the area (and advocated for the tunnel), said that those with the “No tunnel. Save our delta” signs have to come up with a viable alternative for the region.“They need to figure out what the vision is,” he said. “It’s just not clear what saving the delta means, except maybe keeping the status quo.”

But people HAVE come up with viable alternatives for water throughout the state and for the Delta. The state just isn’t listening.

Delta on the Edge.

Sierra Club speaks out for Alternatives to the Tunnel

The Sierra Club, along with STCDA, rejects the Delta Tunnel and complains that the Department of Water Resources (DWR) is refusing to really consider alternatives. Their report says,

By rejecting the commonsense alternative—that is no tunnel and investment in local and regional conservation and efficiency projects—DWR has again locked itself into a tunnel that solves nothing and creates new problems.

At the stakeholder engagement meeting, DWR argued that a commonsense alternative doesn’t solve issues of sea-level rise or possible earthquake. We argue that neither does the tunnel. And the tunnel only makes the state water system even more vulnerable to other effects of climate change, including the demonstrated effects of drought.

The commonsense alternative would provide water to people around the state without forcing more than $11 billion of spending on an environmentally destructive tunnel that will provide no new water.

On Wednesday, August 26, the stakeholder engagement committee of the DCA will meet again. We need a strong showing of Sierra Club activists and tunnel opponents to testify during the public comment period and urge that the committee demand that DWR consider the commonsense alternative to the tunnel.

Read more … Sierra Club’s Post.

STCDA’s two posts last month about the July stakeholder engagement committee meeting where DWR presented their case why alternatives were being rejected, once again: Alternatives to the Tunnel and DWR Opposes Local Water Supplies.

Back to square 1 with Newsom – VAs and the Tunnel

DISAPPOINTING describes it. Governor Newsom announced today that he has released a final version of the Water Resilience Portfolio, the Administration’s blueprint for equipping California to cope with more extreme droughts and floods, rising temperatures, declining fish populations, over-reliance on groundwater and other challenges.

The stated priorities include:

  • Achieving voluntary agreements (VAs) to increase flows and improve conditions for native fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and its watersheds
  • Modernizing the Delta water conveyance system to protect long-term functionality of the State Water Project

There’s nothing about desalination or conservation, nothing about a project for groundwater recharge. There is this about recycling: “Updating regulations to expand water recycling” but what does that mean? Weakening regulations? It doesn’t sound like there’s money for a recycling plant.

And VAs are business as usual. Reverse the good decision of the SWRCB to increase flows into the Delta. I hope the lawsuit recently won will help the Water Board enforce the improved Delta flow standards needed.

And, unfortunately, the “Modernizing the Delta water conveyance system” is the other way of saying a Single Tunnel.

DWR Opposes Local Water Supplies

Developing local water supplies for the state (desalination, recycling, conservation, groundwater recharging) is the only way to meet the Delta Reform Act/Delta Plan goals of “Reduction of reliance on the Delta through regional self-sufficiency.” Yet, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) continues to reject any alternatives or additions to their single tunnel project, leaving the state increasingly dependent on the shrinking Sierra snowpack as the source of water.

This recent post by the California Water Research (CWR) is worth the read: DWR Rejects Consideration of No Tunnel Alternatives. It delves into the No Tunnel Alternative presented by DWR at the July 22, 2020 Stakeholder Engagement Committee Meeting and presents information missing from my last post on why DWR is still rejecting desalination, recycling and conservation efforts, and improving the levees and fish screens to support continued use of existing export facilities.

Here is Alternative 3:
NoTunnelAlternative

Key points made in the CWR post:

DWR stated that continued use of the current State Water Project (SWP) pumps without a new tunnel did not meet the project objectives of climate resiliency, seismic resiliency, and water supply reliability.

However, CWR points out that:

  • DWR has not defined “climate resiliency” or “seismic resiliency,” so this assessment is qualitative.
  • CWR has pointed out in the past that the tunnel intake locations may be too low to accommodate sea level rise to 2100.
  • And the single tunnel may also not be designed to withstand a maximum earthquake in the Delta.

But in addition … and this is the key point to remember … CWR makes VERY good points why DWR’s stance against the alternative technologies is flawed:

  1. Local water supplies are the ONLY supplies that are truly resilient to long term sea level rise, and may also be the only supplies that would continue to be available after a maximum earthquake in the Delta.
  2. Yet DWR’s definition of “sustainability” is narrowly focused on the reliability of Delta exports.

Garamendi’s Portfolio Plan Solves DWR’s No Tunnel Issues

Circling back to our prior STCDA post, Alternatives to the Tunnel, we noted that the first Alternative DWR presented at the SEC meeting was Garamendi’s “A Plan for All of California” which proposed a much smaller 3,000 cfs pipe (not a tunnel), addressing DWR’s issues with concern about a Delta disaster disrupting water flows, combined with new local technologies. DWR analyzed only the smaller pipe and said, “not enough water, don’t like the location” and failed to add the rest of the Garamendi alternative to the analysis.

It is interesting to note that a very similar plan was proposed by the Delta Counties Coalition years ago including a 3,000 cfs pipe plus additional projects to enhance local supplies.

Clearly DWR is not adequately reviewing alternatives … so nothing has changed.

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.


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