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Bechtel-Funded Water Storage Study: Half-Baked

For Immediate Release: Monday, December 1, 2014
Contact: Steve Hopcraft 916/457-5546; [email protected]; Twitter: @shopcraft; @MrSandHillCrane; Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla 209/479-2053 [email protected]; Twitter: @RestoretheDelta

Bechtel-Funded Water Storage Study: Half-Baked
Promotes Destructive Delta Tunnels and Links New Dams 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 sustainable farms, salmon and other Pacific fisheries, today released their critical responses to a recent UC Davis study of groundwater.

The study promises a new “integrated approach” to evaluating storage projects (surface and groundwater), but fails to deliver on that promise. The study leaves out who depends on which water sources and how much, and what water rights are involved. Yet, it makes the link between new dam projects and Governor Brown’s Delta tunnels project, which would destroy the San Francsico Bay-Delta estuary—the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas.

The study’s authors fail to integrate the system fully: they omit from their analysis any place for in stream flows – flows that benefit fish and other aquatic organisms and ecosystems along rivers below dams. By law, dam owners in California are required to keep fish populations below their dams in good condition.

There are many unanswered questions for which the authors want more money (most likely from Bechtel yet again) to do more studies of how to have new storage approaches integrate with the Delta Tunnels project, to maximize water supply deliveries to SWP water contractors, either through wet-year storage or dry-year water transfers. This study does not consider reoperation of existing facilities, water demand management, changes in prioritization of water uses or rights, or other policy or regulatory actions that might change the ability to supply water demands using existing water storage capabilities. In other words, it is half-baked.

This is yet another study funded by the Bechtel Foundation, which has a direct financial self-interest in building “conveyance” and “storage” facilities. We really worry about the framing of research, and the pollution of its intent and findings, when it is wholly funded by those with a massive financial stake in the outcome. We also find it equally disturbing that academic leaders in water spend such little time studying, developing, and creating plans for implementing water technologies that could help alleviate problems with drought. Instead, they continue to promote nineteenth-century solutions that appease funders, rather than creating plans for a viable California water future.

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