For Immediate Release: Friday, December 19, 2014
Contact: Steve Hopcraft 916/457-5546; [email protected]; Twitter: @shopcraft; @MrSandHillCrane; Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla 209/479-2053 [email protected]; Twitter: @RestoretheDelta
Still Take Water above Delta, Violate Clean Water Act, Doom Salmon
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 said a slight revision of the proposed project “removes none of the fatal flaws, including removing water before it flows through the Delta, violates the Clean Water Act and degrades Delta families’ drinking water, and continues to threaten salmon extinction,” Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of RTD. “You can dress it up, you can dress it down by making the project look less industrial. But if you divert the Sacramento River from the Delta, it will kill the SF Bay-Delta estuary. It is still a water grab and slightly lessening the construction impacts means nothing.”
The tunnels’ opponents called upon Gov. Brown to “abandon the doomed project” and instead embrace a sustainable water solution that is fair to all Californians. That solution includes reducing Delta water exports, strengthening Delta levees, and investing in regional water independence through sustainable programs.
“These minor changes appear to save money for the water-takers on construction and possibly operation costs, but they still do not address local concerns. It is a misnomer to call the new configuration ‘gravity flow’ as if it will operate on its own. The River flows by gravity. This system will still require pumps, and a tremendous amount of energy to operate,” said Osha Meserve, counsel for Local Agencies of the North Delta (LAND). “They have lost even more ability to operate the experimental intakes in ‘real time’ to protect fish, with the pumps so far away”
• Local tunnel critics have never focused on the pumping plant structures on their own as being a major concern. It is misleading to say this minor project change addresses local concerns.
• The so-called temporary electricity transmission lines (10 years) are still a major bird strike concern. All they have proposed to mitigate this impact is to install bird diverters, which have limited effectiveness, especially in foggy or nighttime conditions. There is also no direct monitoring of bird strikes being proposed. They intend to just do a population survey of the Greater sandhill cranes every five years to see if the population has changed. If it has gone down, it is not even clear what the response would be to assist in the crane’s survival.
• Taking some tunnel impacts (tunnel launch sites and muck) off of Staten just places them in other islands to the north and south. These areas also contain important bird habitat and productive farmland.
“84% of the water in low-water years would still have to be taken from the existing below-Delta pumps – continuing the massive fish killing that has gone on for decades and threatens extinction of salmon, smelt and other species. The BDCP still takes the fresh water that presently flows through the Delta from above the northern Delta boundary, causing harm to the farmers who currently draw water within the Delta,” said Barrigan-Parrilla. “The fight over the BDCP tunnels and the future of the Delta is California’s fight over whether we will have a sustainable economy and environment, or if we will succumb to the top 1% of corporate water interests controlling rivers, streams, fisheries, water rates, family farming, local development, and spending from the general fund – all in all – access to the California dream.”
The tunnels opponents outlined a sustainable solution to our water challenges. “We need to face the fact that the State has over allocated up to 5 times more water than is normally available in the Delta watershed,” said Barrigan-Parrilla. “We need to invest in water recycling, conservation, stormwater capture, groundwater cleanup, and new water-saving technologies that provide local jobs and reduce reliance on the over pumped Delta.”