Latest BDCP Effects Analysis Nothing
More than a Rationale for a Conveyance
Peripheral Tunnel Incompatible with Restoring Delta
SACRAMENTO, CA – Restore the Delta (RTD), a coalition opposed to the Brown Administration’s rush to construct massive Peripheral Tunnels to take millions of acre-feet of water from the Delta, today said the revised BDCP proposal for Peripheral Tunnels to export Sacramento/San Joaquin/San Francisco Bay Delta water, mainly to benefit unsustainable mega-farms on the west side of the Central Valley, “pretends you can restore the Delta by draining it.” BDCP released today three more chapters of the plan.
“Between 2000 and 2011, more than 130,000,000 fish were ‘salvaged’ in the massive state and federal pumps diverting water to corporate agribusiness, oil companies and southern California developers,” said Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA). “Recent studies have shown that 5 to 10 times more fish are killed than salvaged, so the actual number of fish lost could be 1.3 billion or higher. The massive diversion of water under the Brown Administration resulted in last year’s ‘salvage’ of nearly 9 million split-tail, and over 2 million other fish. Now, the Brown Administration magically declares that the peripheral tunnels will end this wholesale destruction. But there is no evidence to support this wild claim. The Peripheral Tunnels will destroy our fisheries.”
“The Brown Administration is trying to save the fish by removing them from the water. The proposed Peripheral Tunnels would have disastrous effects on the fish populations of the Delta, yet the Brown Administration dubs the tunnels a ‘conservation measure.’ That is ludicrous and shows the entire BDCP is set up to approve draining the Delta,” said Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta.
Restore the Delta agreed with the National Academy Science’s 2012 judgment that the effects analysis is still “nothing more than a rationale for a conveyance.”
“The peripheral tunnels are incompatible with restoring the Delta and fish populations. Water contractors can’t prove that moving the point of diversion would help threatened fish species. The BDCP’s own February analysis showed that the amount of water they want to take would doom the species they intend to save, including Delta smelt,” said Barrigan-Parrilla.
The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) identified fresh water flow as a critical variable affecting the health of the Delta. “Statistical evidence and models suggest that both flows (amount of fresh water) and flow paths (route through the Delta) are critical to population abundance of many species in the Bay-Delta” (page 105). Restoring the Delta and fish populations, said the NAS panel, requires that “exports of all types will necessarily need to be limited in dry years.”
“The tunnels would divert Sacramento River water away from the Delta, leaving a larger percentage of polluted water flowing into the Delta from the San Joaquin River, which is designated as an impaired water body by the State Water Resources Control Board and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,” said Jane Wagner-Tyack Policy, Analyst for Restore the Delta. “The project would let less water flow into the Delta and would concentrate and increase the residence time of Delta pollution. Because the Bay-Delta estuary contains several important fish species, including salmon and steelhead, the negative effects on the Delta that the project could create would have a devastating impact on these fish species and associated fishing and recreational jobs.”
“The Brown Administration’s latest attempt to justify its Peripheral Tunnels adds another to three previous failed Effects Analysis studies, which were savagely trashed by the National Science Academy as “nothing more than a rationale for a conveyance.”
“BDCP is leaving out the ‘$9 billion’ ecosystem cost that will also be largely paid for by water ratepayers, through their taxes. They should say the plan also depends on $9 billion in ecosystem costs paid for with tax dollars, crowding out investments in local schools, health and welfare programs, or requiring a general tax increase,” said Wagner-Tyack. “Divide that $9 billion by roughly 40 million Californians and you get $225 per capita, about $700 per household.”
Decades of monitoring and scientific research have shown that reduced freshwater inflows are a major cause of habitat degradation and declining fish populations in the estuary: since the 1970s, populations of many of the most common species have plunged by 66-98%. That damage will continue if the Peripheral Tunnels are built.
BDCP is not considering alternatives for meeting the coequal goals except the peripheral tunnels, although there are several proposals, including the Environmental Water Caucus Plan endorsed by dozens of environmental organizations, that could be evaluated.