Delta Counties say final EIR for the Delta Tunnel is deficient and won't address climate change

The Delta Cross Channel where it enters the Sacramento River. Photo by Dan Bacher. | 

By Dan Bacher | 

While fishing groups, Tribes, environmental justice organizations, Delta residents, family farmers and others have blasted the Newsom administration for releasing the final environmental impact report (EIR) for the environmentally destructive Delta Tunnel project, so have many elected officials, including the members of the boards of supervisors of the Delta Counties.

In response to Department of Water Resources’ release of a final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Delta Conveyance Project through the Sacramento‐San Joaquin Delta on Dec. 8, Patrick Hume, Chair of the Delta Counties Coalition (DCC), made the following statement on behalf of the five jurisdictions that would be most negatively impacted: 

“This tunnel project described in the Final EIR continues to be based on last century thinking and merely moves water from the north to the south without adding any new water to the system. It is a deeply flawed plan that does not improve statewide water supplies and would harm the Delta, the region, and California’s economy.

This 16‐year, $16+ billion ratepayer‐funded mega project would no doubt cause grave environmental and ecological impacts in the Delta. It would also have negative economic, social, and security impacts on California residents in the Bay‐Delta region and beyond – especially those in underserved communities where water quality and quantity are at stake.

Even though it is portrayed as a climate project, the tunnel would not provide a resilient and reliable statewide water supply or address the reality of climate change and years of extended droughts with sporadic flood events. In fact, this disastrous tunnel project would not provide a new source of water to our already over‐drafted system. Tunnel proponents are also using scare tactics by claiming that the tunnel would protect water supplies in the event of an earthquake, when there has been no evidence that past earthquakes have caused damage to existing water infrastructure.

If this Administration and past Administrations had focused their efforts on sensible water solutions rather than a massive multi‐billion tunnel project that won’t provide new water supply, California would be in a much better place today to safeguard residents from the impacts of climactic conditions.

The state needs to change its focus from a tunnel that won’t create any new water and would sacrifice the Delta and instead support projects that will secure resilient, equitable, long‐term water supplies while preserving natural resources for future generations. Cities like Los Angeles and San Diego are implementing their own water infrastructure projects to provide significantly more water from local sources in the coming years.

California would be better off maintaining and improving levees to protect the freshwater pathway, developing sensible above and below ground storage, and building additional water projects to conserve and reuse water throughout the state.”

The Delta Counties Coalition is a consortium of five Delta Counties, including Contra Costa, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano, and Yolo, “working to give one voice to the Delta, advocating on behalf of local government and the 4 million people throughout the Delta region.”  

The Delta Conveyance project is a 45 mile-long tunnel that would divert water from the Sacramento River near Hood underneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, denying critical freshwater flows to the Delta and San Francisco Bay, in order to supply corporate agribusiness in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California water agencies.

The Delta Conveyance project would divert up to 6,000 cubic feet of water per second. The project is estimated to cost between $16-40 billion and won’t be completed until at least 2040, according to Restore the Delta.

For my in-depth article on the Delta Tunnel EIR, go to:

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