We Need your Help!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    This is where we need your help.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There’s one in Stockton:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even the “Big Guys” are jumping into the fray

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s a good read.

Click here to read their entire email.

RBOC Responds

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


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

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

Read the entire response: Click here

For the RBOC Press Release: Click here

2019 Franks Tract Futures Report

by Jamie Bolt

“Franks Tract Futures” is a pending project by the State of California aimed at decreasing salt water intrusion into our delta drinking water supply. Causation can be potential drought years as well as natural sea level rise. The intention is to block the powerful tidal, funnel action that Franks Tract causes which potentially brings salt water into the delta from the San Francisco Bay. The initial plan proposed creating a huge tidal marsh which would completely block Franks Tract and a portion of False River from boating traffic. Unfortunately, it would also block the beneficial tidal flushing action of these critical waterways. An abundance of boaters, fisherman, kayakers, duck hunters, kite-boarders and residents rely on access to Franks Tract for year-round recreational purposes. Additionally, marinas, supporting businesses and homeowners would suffer irreversible negative impacts by the original planned project. California Department of Fish and Game is the lead agency with collaborative leadership by the University of California at Davis. In 2019 a small group of local delta residents and members of the STCDA formed an “advisory committee” with other “stakeholders” of the project. We, along with concerned Bethel Island residents, object to the blocking of historically navigable waterways to boating traffic.

In workshops over the past year the committee has discussed dozens of other potential designs which, at our request, would leave boating channels and open waterways in the area while still allowing for the basic project goal to be met. We have requested dredging of the channels to eliminate the abundance of prop-fouling waterweed. We have also requested the formation of sandy beaches accessible to boaters. At the last meeting the group fine-tuned three designs which have now gone back to the state in order to model salt water intrusion rates. While we would prefer that Franks Tract and False River be left untouched completely, we are striving to mitigate the results of the potential project in order to make it favorable for delta boaters.
We look forward to continuing positive change to the project in the 2020 New Year.

*The STCDA is not unaware of the fact that the proposed delta tunnel conveyance of precious delta waters will also cause increased levels of salt water intrusion from the bay.

Jamie Bolt
Harbormaster, Bethel Harbor
Director, STCDA

Franks Tract State Recreation Area
©2018, California State Parks.
Photo by Brian Baer

Here’s some photos of activities at Franks Tract State Recreation Area:

Photos are from:

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

Newsom’s “Water Resilience Portfolio” Released

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Year in Review

Happy Holidays to you and your family!

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

In summary:

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

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

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

Read more below . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This year:

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

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

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

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

What is the timing?

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

What do we need to do in 2020?

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

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

Please Donate

or by mailing a check made out to STCDA to:

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

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

New Biological Opinions Released

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

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

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

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

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

Reactions: https://mavensnotebook.com/…/reactions-water-agencies-stak…/

One barge is bad enough! What will tunnel construction do?

If you saw my prior blog, Barges in the Delta! Yikes!, you read about the scary interactions South Delta boaters have had with the tug maneuvering one single barge around in Old River.

Now think about what the Tunnel Project means.

Thousands (yes thousands) of barge trips will occur during the 5-6 year tunnel construction period. Up to eight round-trips per day from Clifton Court Forebay to the various shaft sites.

There is no question that the tunnel project will totally shut down boating and recreation on Delta waterways, closing down marinas and impacting Delta boating communities’ economies.

Below is the analysis of the two-tunnel project. One tunnel will be a shorter construction time but still a lot of barges and the same number of docks, building platforms, and shaft sites.

scda_72-overallroute copy.jpg
Map showing the entire tunnel route including barge landings and barge traffic

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