State and Feds Will Release EIS for Delta Tunnels Plan Tomorrow

By Dan Bacher | December 21, 2016 |   

Just in time for the Holidays, the California Department of Water Resources and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced they will release their 80,000-page Environmental Impact Report/ Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/ EIS) for the Delta Tunnels plan on Thursday, December 22, 2016.

The release of the huge document by the two lead agencies for the project comes at a critical time for the future of Governor Jerry Brown's Delta Tunnels project, the California WaterFix. The two top officials at the Department of Water Resources are retiring on December 31, while the new Donald Trump administration, filled with many controversial environmental appointees, will take the helm in Washington D.C. on January 21.

The American River below Nimbus Dam on
December 16. The American, a tributary
of the  Sacramento, is one of many rivers and
streams imperiled by Governor Jerry Brown's
Delta Tunnels proposal. Photo by Dan Bacher.
The document will be available at www.BayDeltaConservationPlan.com

According to a statement from Restore the Delta (RTD), “This document represents the agencies’ final attempt to convince state and federal regulators that their proposal for twin 40-foot, 30-mile long water tunnels to transfer Sacramento River water beneath the San Francisco Bay-Delta can meet environmental and water quality standards under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a feat no previous version of the proposal has achieved."

"Despite any claims by project supporters, this document is by no means an approval of the proposal. It is akin to the submission of homework to be graded," the group said.

As the Department and the Bureau jointly told the State Water Board at the end of November 2016, the environmental report cannot be finalized until a biological opinion is completed in March or April 2017. They told the Board they would finalize the report “at approximately the same time” as when the biological opinion is released, according to RTD.

“How thoughtful of Delta Tunnel lead agencies to dump this document on defenders of the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary just before the holidays. For comparison, an 80,000-page document is roughly 66 Bibles long,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta. “We will begin digging through the information, evaluating agency replies to public comments included in this document, engage in the process moving forward, and prepare for litigation if required.”

The 80,000-page document is being released as the Delta Tunnels plan faces increasing opposition from fishermen, Tribal leaders, conservationists, environmental justice advocates, scientists and elected officials because it would destroy West Coast salmon and other fish populations and devastate family farms and communities throughout the Delta.

The Water Fix is based on the absurd contention that taking up to 9,000 cubic feet per second of water from the Sacramento River at the new points of diversion, as requested in the petition by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to the State Water Resources Control Board, will somehow “restore” the Delta ecosystem.

I am not aware of a single project in US or world history where the construction of a project that takes more water out of a river or estuary has resulted in the restoration of that river or estuary.

You can read a transcript of my testimony before the State Water Resources Control Board at: http://fishsniffer.com/index.php/2016/07/30/delta-tunnels-restoring-an-estuary-by-diverting-its-water/  




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