STOCKTON – Today, the California Department of Water Resources and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released an official joint statement confirming a new phased approach to the Delta Tunnels project. The announcement follows months of statements about changes to the project by Metropolitan Water District General Manager Jeff Kightlinger after project proponents failed to secure sufficient funding from water districts asked to participate.
On September 26, 2017, Metropolitan Water District Jeff Kightlinger told the MWD Board of Directors that a 6,000 cfs tunnel, for about two-thirds of the water and two-thirds of the cost, had been looked at and could work.
On January 16, 2018 Douglas Headrick with the San Bernardino Valley Water District reported of MWD of Southern California, “They are expecting an announcement in early February from the Department of Water Resources on the new sizing of the facility. It will be likely resized to one tunnel at 6,000 cfs, and may be 3-4 feet large in diameter.” (Agenda Item 5.1 page 10).
Then on February 5, 2018, the Planning and Operations Committee of the Board of Directors for the Metropolitan Water District of Orange County noted the California WaterFix appears to be headed for a single tunnel alternative.
Executive Director of Restore the Delta, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla said,
“We find it very disconcerting that part two of the Delta tunnels change petition hearing is slated to begin tomorrow at the State Water Board in light of today’s announcement. Specifically, we are very concerned that this new version of the WaterFix will pursue a larger tunnel than what was presented during part one of the testimony, and before necessary modeling and cost-benefit analysis are completed.
“While protestants of the tunnels are at the State Water Resources Control Board fighting the change petition tomorrow, Southern California Water Districts will be evaluating the details of the new project. Presently, financial commitments from participating water districts still falls short of the to $10.8 billion needed to build a single tunnel. Consequently, Metropolitan Water District will have to go back to its member agencies seeking additional funding.
“Realistically, there is not enough time between now and December, 2018, when DWR plans to break ground—whether symbolically or physically. Impacted parties have the right to measure the impacts of a single 6,000 cfs tunnel on fisheries, water quality for environmental justice communities, and the public interest. DWR’s attempts to jam through a permit for one project, while working secretly with water exporters to create another, is unconscionable, especially when we consider their mission:
‘To manage the water resources of California in cooperation with other agencies, to benefit the State’s people and to protect, restore and enhance the natural and human environments.’
“We remain convinced that a fifth reiteration of the project will not save CA WaterFix from failure and will ultimately deal a devastating blow to the health of the ailing San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary.”
For immediate release: 2/7/18
Nora Kovaleski, 408-806-6470, [email protected]
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta, 209-479-2053, [email protected]