We don’t want to put words in your mouth (and besides, form letters to politicians are somewhat less effective than those that are personalized). But, we need you to send Governor Jerry Brown a letter expressing your opposition to the peripheral tunnels and the Bay Delta Conservation Plan in time for the December 13, 2013 release of the BDCP environmental impact report.
Here is a list of things NOT to like about the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. Go ahead and use as many of these ideas as you like, and feel free to add to your letter your own objections to this monstrous boondoggle. In addition, please email a copy of your letter to Restore the Delta for publication at [email protected]. Your letter should be addressed to: Governor Jerry Brown, c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173, Sacramento, CA 95814 and the salutation should read: The Honorable Edmund G. Brown.
Ideas for letters!
- It will cost a lot of money: close to $17 billion to construct the Peripheral Tunnels, plus $8 billion for conservation measures. This doesn’t include financing costs over the 50-year term of the project, which bring the total to over $50 billion.
- When was the last time that you saw a major public works project that didn’t far exceed initial cost estimates?
- The water exporters don’t want to pay for the conservation measures they need to get the project permitted, so they are identifying those conservation measures as “public benefits” and expecting taxpayers to fund them with one water bond in 2014 and another water bond sometime in the future. Polls show that Californians are not in the mood to approve a water bond.
- The project planners admit that the Peripheral Tunnels will not make any additional water available to the water contractors who are expected to pay for the project. The best they can promise is a more reliable supply-one that won’t fluctuate because of restrictions to project endangered species. But given California’s cycles of dry and wet years, BDCP can’t even guarantee the reduced amount.
- As discussed in a recent letter from Friends of the San Francisco Estuary to the State Water Resources Control Board, the BDCP fails to analyze possible effects on San Francisco Bay. “The Plan Area terminates at Carquinez Bridge, effectively excluding the entirety of San Francisco Bay. As a result, impacts to water quality, aquatic habitats, fish and wildlife, and estuarine dynamics in the San Francisco and San Pablo Bays have not been considered adequately in the Draft EIR/EIS and Effects Analysis. As noted by the National Research Council review of BDCP in 2011: since BDCP aims to address management and restoration of the San Francisco Bay-Delta, this is a significant omission that must be rectified.”
- The agricultural contractors in the San Joaquin Valley will get about 2/3 of the water, but they will have a hard time affording the extra costs, especially when they won’t be getting any extra water. Urban ratepayers will be expected to pay the lion’s share for this project.
- The project will take 9 to 10 years to build, during which time the contractors will be expected to pay for water they aren’t getting.
- The Brown Administration wants to build the tunnels before the conservation measures are all in place, and they won’t know until after they begin to operate them whether the tunnels will actually be better for endangered species. If they aren’t, they won’t be able to operate the tunnels, and the state will have a multi-billion dollar stranded asset.
- The Peripheral Tunnels will have the ability to take up to two-thirds of the flow of the Sacramento River and send it under the Delta to the export pumps at Tracy. This will take the Delta’s largest supply of fresh water and make it unavailable to fish and other species including people in both the Delta itself and in the Estuary and San Francisco Bay.
- In return for taking most of the fresh water from the system, BDCP proposes to create 145,000 acres of habitat in the Delta. Much of this will take agricultural land out of cultivation, at a multi-million dollar cost to the Delta regional economy. Meanwhile, there’s absolutely no guarantee that habitat creation will work the way they want it to. Habitat creation on anything like this scale does not have a good track record for success. Nature just tends not to respond as anticipated. First of all, fish need water.
- Although they will have the ability to take water from the North Delta, exporters actually expect to export water from the South Delta, as they currently do, over half the time, particularly in dry years when they need flows from the Cosumnes and Mokelumne rivers. Nevertheless, BDCP does not include any new fish screens in the South Delta to protect the fish that are currently killed by operations there.
- During the 9 to 10 year construction period, people in the Delta will be subjected to transportation disruptions, heavy construction traffic, 24/7 construction noise (including long periods of continuous pile-driving), dewatering of their groundwater, reduced water supplies and water quality, and decreased property values. The draft environmental documents for BDCP identify hundreds of adverse impacts, including 48 that are called “significant and unavoidable,” which means that the water contractors paying for the project won’t be expected to fix or mitigate them.
- Marinas will be dry-docked and navigation will be restricted as water elevations are lowered, first for construction and later for operation of the project.
- Recreational and commercial fishing will suffer from reduced flows and reduced water quality in the Delta, the Estuary, and the Bay.
- When the Legislature passed the Delta Reform Act in 2009, it required that the co-equal goals of 1) water supply reliability and 2) ecosystem restoration be met while 3) reducing reliance on the Delta and 4) protecting the Delta itself. The Bay Delta Conservation plan fails on every count.