FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, August 26, 2013
Contact: Steve Hopcraft 916/457-5546; [email protected]; Twitter: @shopcraft
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla 209/479-2053 [email protected];
Peripheral Tunnels Opponents:
Fat Levees are Cost-Effective Alternative to Tunnels
Sacramento, CA- Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Gov. Brown’s rush to build Peripheral Tunnels that would drain the Delta and doom salmon and other Pacific fisheries, today defended fattening Delta levees as a more cost-effective alternative to the tunnels. RTD responded to State Water Contractors argument that “fattening” Delta levees is “an incomplete solution” for the Delta.
Proponents of “fat” levees have not suggested that they are a complete alternative to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), but only that fattening levees is necessary whether the tunnels were constructed or not, and that fattening levees is a crucial part of a better solution. “BDCP is supposed to be a habitat conservation plan, but the main ‘conservation measure’ being proposed is building the Peripheral Tunnel,” said RTD Executive Director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla. “Fat levees are a more cost-effective alternative to tunnels and ought to be evaluated as part of the overall conservation plan.”
Here’s what “fat” levees would do:
• Improve flood protection for people and property in the Delta, potentially saving lives. Nothing in BDCP does that.
• Protect highways, railroads, power lines, gas lines, and other infrastructure worth $20 billion to the region and the state; this is protection that will be needed no matter what happens with BDCP and the tunnels. Nothing in BDCP does that.
• Protect through-Delta conveyance of export water. Even with Peripheral Tunnels, BDCP expects to export water from the South Delta half the time and will need through-Delta channels protected by robust levees. Nothing in BDCP does that.
• Protect water quality for both Delta users and exporters. Nothing in BDCP does that.
• Create riparian habitat on the water side of levees, reducing the habitat justification for taking tens of thousands of acres of prime Delta agricultural land out of production. Nothing in BDCP does that.
• Provide all these benefits for $2-$4 billion rather than upwards of $15 billion that the tunnels would cost. Nothing in BDCP does that.
• Provide all these benefits within a fairly short timeframe rather than the decades it will take to complete the tunnels. Nothing in BDCP does that.
Asks UOP economist Dr. Jeff Michael, “Why aren’t the water contractors interested in solutions that will save their ratepayers billions of dollars? Why aren’t they interested in solutions that simultaneously protect public safety and their water supplies?”
Notes Dr. Robert Pyke, “Taking water out of the Delta and putting it into tunnels cannot possibly be of overall benefit to native fish species, although it might marginally decrease the take of Delta smelt in the South Delta pumps. Decreasing the flow through the Delta cannot possibly retard the conversion of the estuary into a weedy lake that is favorable to non-native species. It is ludicrous to claim that putting water in tunnels helps restore more natural flow patterns and, because it includes no work on levees, the BDCP does not address the question of salinity intrusion due to sea level rise.”