This massive infrastructure project consists of 40-foot diameter tunnels, running 150 feet under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta and transferring water from the Sacramento River south to to users. The estimated cost of the project runs as high as $60 billion, in addition to environmental and agricultural impacts from diverting massive amounts of fresh water from the river/delta ecosystems.
Opposition to the project has been broad, including community groups, taxpayers and rate payers, and farming, fishing, and environmental organizations.
With the Governor facing both opposition to the project and tight funding, it seemed that the Delta project could be scaled back, from two tunnels to one. But yesterday, Associated Press reporter Ellen Knickmeyer reported that the state is leaving the possibility of a second tunnel open, looking to build one now, and another at a much later date.
State water officials are reportedly working on a statement for release, and have not released a new cost estimate for the revised tunnel proposal.
Executive Director of Restore the Delta, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla said, “The Department of Water Resources is functioning at the direction of Metropolitan Water District to begin contracting for construction on a single tunnel project with two intakes, and then to later phase in an additional tunnel as funding becomes available.
“This is a desperate maneuver to keep CA WaterFix alive. This is not the project described in the Environmental Impact Report for CA WaterFix, or in the permit application presented by the Department of Water Resources and the Bureau of Reclamation for the hearings at the State Water Resources Control Board.
“Californians have a right to know how long construction would take, what the impacts would be on Delta communities, fish, and wildlife under an even longer construction period, how much water would be delivered and when, and what the costs of a phased in project would be. A cost-benefit analysis still needs to be completed. Any attempt to move forward with the project without new environmental documents and project applications is an attempted end-run around California voters and water users. It is bad planning, and bad politics.”
We agree! We have opposed the Delta Tunnels project as an expensive boondoggle designed to transfer water from an ecologically sensitive area to support unsustainable industrial agriculture. In the face of California's changing climate, we need to invest in conserving and capturing water locally--smaller-scale infrastructure projects that can also generate jobs. You can read more about the Alliance's water campaigns here, and connect with state campaigns through the Defending Water portal.