For Immediate Release: 7/26/22
Contact: Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta, 209-479-2053, [email protected]
Sacramento, Calif. – Today the California Department of Water Resources released their Draft Environmental Impact Report on the Delta Conveyance (Delta Tunnel) Project. Versions of this massive public works proposal have roiled California water policy since it was first rejected by California voters in 1982 as the Peripheral Canal.
Restore the Delta’s executive director, Barbara-Barrigan Parrilla said:
“This plan is so massive, it will be delivered to us on thumb-drive. A full review of this mountain of paper is simply not possible for Delta communities, environmental justice groups, or Northern California tribes in just 90-days.
“As we read, we will be looking for answers to the questions we raised during our work with the Stakeholder Engagement Committee for the Design Construction Authority during that two-year tunnel planning process. Delta communities raised concerns about water quality, salinity intrusion, pollution mitigation, and significant air pollution impacts resulting from construction and operation of the project. DWR needs to speak frankly about the sacrifices expected of the people of the Delta for this project to advance. As the state has only recently begun to hold workshops on salinity intrusion into the Delta, which is also part of climate change planning, there is no framework for what a just transition for the Delta would entail. There is also no state standard for dealing with harmful algal blooms, another serious water and air quality problem that will worsen with construction and operation of the tunnel.
“With significant water shortages on the horizon, it is mind boggling that the Delta Conveyance Project is the first priority of the Department of Water Resources and the Newsom Administration.
“Before we build a tunnel, DWR and the State Water Resources Control Board must do the hard work of bringing supply and demand into balance. We are too close to a water crisis to allow all energies to be directed toward what will become a mostly dry, expensive, and frequently empty tunnel, financed by water ratepayers and California taxpayers. Would a myriad of localized water projects better prepare California’s climate-changed water system?
“To decide that, we need an emergency, comprehensive statewide plan for dealing with aridification – the long-term change to our climate we are all witnessing. Second, the State must complete and implement both phases of the Bay-Delta Plan so we have baseline numbers about what is required to keep largest estuary on the West Coast alive. Last, there must be a Marshall Plan (including financing) to build out the myriad of localized water projects to protect and increase water supplies throughout the state.”