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Fat levees: maybe not sufficient, but certainly necessary

Nancy Vogel, communications director at the Department of Water Resources (DWR), blogged last week that “Building fat Delta levees does not create a healthier Delta ecosystem or help the state cope with drought.”

Restore the Delta agrees that improved levees are not the only answer to habitat and water supply challenges.  But we don’t agree that shifting the point of water diversion to the north end of the Delta, as proposed by the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), is going to solve everything for migrating salmon or the ecosystem as a whole.  What it will do is ensure that the largest supply of high quality water never goes through the Delta at all.  See the article above for a reminder of why that isn’t going to be good for the Bay-Delta Estuary.

Vogel asserts that “Moving most pumping from the South Delta and investing heavily in habitat restoration . . . would ease water transfers that help shield California’s economy from drought.”  That’s because pumping restrictions protecting fish wouldn’t interfere with water transfers between willing sellers in the north and willing buyers in the south.  But in a drought, there’s a reduced amount of water for even willing sellers to transfer.

Vogel doesn’t mention increasing transfers in wet years.  Maybe that’s because we wouldn’t need Peripheral Tunnels to do that.  And Vogel’s job is to justify those tunnels.

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