Yesterday, Restore the Delta, AquAlliance, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, California Water Impact Network, Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, Environmental Water Caucus, Friends of the River, Planning and Conservation League, and Sierra Club California submitted a letter to the Santa Clara Valley Water District regarding better plans for the Delta:
Our public interest organizations write out of concern that once again, the Big Lie has been repeated that there is no Plan B to the California Water Fix Delta Water Tunnels. In fact, there is an outstanding Plan B, and for that matter, other alternative Plans as well to the Water Tunnels. The self-serving refusal of the proponents of the Water Tunnels to listen to or consider alternative Plans does not mean there is no Plan B. We presume that in many cases such as at your meeting on June 21, 2016, when Mr. Matt Maltbie of Californians for Water Security said there is no Plan B, the mistake is innocent and is caused by the continuing efforts of proponent government agencies to ignore and conceal alternatives to the Water Tunnels.
To summarize, the Water Fix is the most damaging and controversial water project proposal in California history. It is the most expensive water project proposal in California history. The 1970’s version of the Water Tunnels, then known as the peripheral canal, was voted down in a statewide referendum in June 1982 by a 2 to 1 margin.
The Tunnels would divert enormous quantities of water from the Sacramento River upstream from the Delta near Clarksburg. As a result of this massive diversion, the freshwater that presently flows through the Sacramento River and sloughs to and through the Bay-Delta before being diverted for export at the south Delta, would no longer reach the Delta. The benefits of those freshwater flows for Delta water flows and water quality, agriculture, industry, residents, and fish and fish habitat would be lost, with the impacts to humans falling particularly heavily on low-income people of color and California Indian Tribes.
We presented A Sustainable Water Plan for California (Environmental Water Caucus, May 2015) as a reasonable alternative to the Water Tunnels over a year ago. The plan is at: http://ewccalifornia.org/reports/ewcwaterplan9-1-2015.pdf. A copy of A Sustainable Water Plan for California is also attached hereto. The actions called for by this alternative include: reducing exports to no more than 3,000,000 acre-feet in all years in keeping with State Water Board Delta flow criteria (for inflow as well as outflow); water efficiency and demand reduction programs including urban and agricultural water conservation, recycling, storm water recapture and reuse; reinforced levees above PL 84-99 standards; installation of improved fish screens at existing Delta pumps; elimination of irrigation water applied on up to 1.3 million acres of drainage-impaired farmlands south of the Bay-Delta; return the Kern Water Bank to State control; restore Article 18 urban preference; restore the original intent of Article 21 surplus water in SWP contracts; conduct feasibility study for Tulare Basin water storage; provide fish passage above and below Central Valley rim dams for species of concern; and retain cold water for fish in reservoirs. We also requested that the range of reasonable alternatives include reducing exports both more and less than the 3,000,000 acre feet limit called for by this alternative.
A Sustainable Water Plan for California is a carefully conceived modern, 21st-century Plan B. It should be Plan A.
Make a mid year donation to our organization. 2016 is shaping up, unfortunately, to be a tough year for the Delta. Restore the Delta is the only Delta public interest organization that will be representing all the beneficial uses of water with the State Water Resources Control Board to stop the tunnels permitting process. That means that with our membership partners we are representing the water needs of everyone in the Bay-Delta region: from growers to farm workers; from urban businesses to in-Delta businesses; from Delta drinking water users to lovers of the San Francisco Bay; from boaters to recreational fishermen; from wealthy landowners to members of the environmental justice community; from Sandhill cranes to Delta smelt. We believe that our case, the statistical and narrative facts of the millions of people tied to the estuary, in addition to necessity for species protections, will be the most compelling factual stories made to the State Water Resources Control Board. Right now, 2016 is shaping up to be a tough year and we need additional funding. Donate today.