Army Corps of Engineers posts public notice for Delta Tunnel permit

Caleen Sisk, Chief of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, testifies against the environmentally destructive Delta Tunnel at a scoping meeting in Sacramento in February 2020. Photo by Dan Bacher. |

By Dan Bacher | 

On August 20, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District posted the public notice for a key permit required by the Gavin Newsom Administration to build the controversial Delta Tunnel under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta

You can sign this Save California salmon petition to register your opposition to the permit: Signing this petition counts as a comment.

In spite of massive opposition from a wide array of Californians, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has applied for this permit to place dredged and fill material and/or work in waters of the U.S., resulting in “permanent impacts to approximately 247.44 acres of waters, temporarily impacts to 87.17 acres of waters, and subsurface crossings under 16.88 acres of navigable waters,” according to the Corps.

The Corps used the following paragraph to describe the Delta Tunnel project: “The applicant would construct two water intakes and setback levees along the Sacramento River, 14 underground waterway crossings, including the Stockton Deep Water Ship Channel (SDWSC), thirteen tunnel shafts, a barge landing in the SDWSC, construction of south forebay facilities and connection to the existing State Water Project (SWP) Banks Intake Canal,” the Corps stated.

Also on August 20, a report released at the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority (DCA) on-line meeting revealed that the cost estimate for Governor Gavin Newsom's Delta Tunnel is up to $15.9 billion.

The estimate is based on a single tunnel with a total capacity of 6,000 cfs. with two intakes of 3,000 cfs. The project would feature 42 miles of tunnels and associated shafts, Southern Complex Facilities with a Pump Station and Forebay, and connections to the existing California Aqueduct of the State Water Project (SWP).

The tunnel is opposed by a large coalition of recreational and commercial fishermen, Tribal leaders, scientists, subsistence fishermen, family farmers, Delta business owners, boaters, environmental justice advocates, Southern California water ratepayers, elected officials and the people of California.

If built, critics say the actual tunnel costs would undoubtedly exceed the original estimates at the same time that the project hastens the extinction of winter and spring-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt and other state and federal listed fish species. The enormously expensive project would also imperil the salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers that the Yurok, Karuk and Hoopa Valley tribes have been fishing for since time immemorial. 

Regina Chichizola, co-director of Save California Salmon, criticized the Newsom Administration for collaborating with the Trump Administration to build the environmentally destructive Delta Tunnel in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic.

"That Gavin Newsom and California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot are working with Trump to push this through during a pandemic, while many of the people that will be impacted can't engage, shows disrespect for Native Americans and other rural and salmon dependent communities," emphasized Chichizola. 

”The Trump/Newsom alliance to divert, store and export more of our river's water is clear, since this comment period is also scheduled during the Shasta Dam Raise federal comment period. Neither  project will have any public hearings. It is time to kill these terrible water stealing projects,” stated Chichizola.

The approximately 4,565-acre project site is located in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, from the Sacramento River (latitude 38.38531°, longitude -121.51519°) approximately 45 miles to the existing south Delta pumping facilities (latitude 37.81358°, longitude -121.60311°), within Sacramento, San Joaquin, Contra Costa, and Alameda Counties, California. 

SUBMITTING COMMENTS:  Written comments, referencing Public Notice SPK-2019-00899 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before October 20, 2020.
Zachary Simmons, Project Manager

US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
1325 J Street, Room 1350
Sacramento, California  95814-2922

The Corps says it “is particularly interested in receiving comments related to the proposal's probable impacts on the affected aquatic environment and the secondary and cumulative effects.  Anyone may request, in writing, that a public hearing be held to consider this application.  Requests shall specifically state, with particularity, the reason(s) for holding a public hearing. If the Corps determines that the information received in response to this notice is inadequate for thorough evaluation, a public hearing may be warranted.  If a public hearing is warranted, interested parties will be notified of the time, date, and location.  Please note that all comment letters received are subject to release to the public through the Freedom of Information Act.” 

If you have questions or need additional information please contact the applicant or the Corps' project manager Zachary Simmons, (916) 557-6746,

You can sign this petition to register your opposition to the permit: 
Below is the text of the petition: 

The  U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District has initiated a new public comment period for the permitting process of the Delta Tunnel Conveyance Project. Scoping comments on this federal 404 permit are due by October 20th, 2020. Signing this petition counts as a comment. There will be no public hearings on this permit.

The Delta Tunnel would divert an additional 6000 cubic feet-per-second (cfs) from the Bay Delta estuary. The water would come from the Trinity, McCloud, Sacramento Rivers and other Bay Delta tributaries, and would be diverted south for the benefit of Southern California Water Brokers and industrial agriculture. This would increase pressure to divert water from Northern California rivers such as the Trinity River.

If a tunnel is constructed and operated, water quality and quantity in the Bay-Delta will deteriorate and the ecosystem will collapse. The project would divert up to two-thirds of fresh water flowing into the Delta from the Sacramento River. Some of these freshwater flows come from the Trinity River, which would impact the Klamath River temperatures and water quality. Fresh water flows are critical for sustaining the habitat for hundreds of fish and wildlife species, as well as stopping salt water intrusion from the Bay and flushing out the hundreds of thousands of tons of pollutants and salts that accumulate in the Delta annually.

In March 2020, over 200 people, including members from at least 7 Tribes, attended California’s Delta Tunnel hearing in Redding and testified as to why the Delta Tunnel and associated Sites Reservoir would be detrimental to North Coast rivers and Native communities. These efforts were led by water protectors from Hoopa Valley High School.


People from all across California are concerned about what the Delta Tunnel will mean, from increased water bills in L.A, to health impacts from tunnel construction and diminished water quality in Stockton, to fish kills and lack of salmon fisheries in Del Norte. Delta Tribes have expressed opposition due to the desecration of cultural sites from the construction of the tunnels, and at least four fishing organizations and many social justice and environmental groups have also testified against the Delta Tunnel.

Despite this, the Delta Tunnel currently remains a top priority in Governor Newsom’s Water Portfolio and he is working with the Trump administration to push it forward during COVID-19 while the public can not participate in public processes.

It’s time to tell the Army Corps and the state of California: Prioritize people, salmon, and healthy rivers over corporate agricultural interests. No Delta Tunnel!  

Comments are due by October 20th, 2020. Signing this petition counts as a comment.

They are particularly interested in receiving comments related to the proposal's probable impacts on the affected aquatic environment and the secondary and cumulative effects.  If you have questions or need additional information, please contact the Corps' project manager Zachary Simmons, by phone at (916) 557-6746, or by email at

Copyright by Elk Grove News © 2020. All right reserved.



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