Single Delta Tunnel Planning Begins with “Notice of Preparation”; Reaction from Restore the Delta

For Immediate Release: January 15, 2020 Contact: Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, 209-479-2053, [email protected] STOCKTON, CA – Planning for a single tunnel through the San Francisco Bay-Delta, formally began today as the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) released its Delta Conveyance Notice of Preparation. The document begins the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the “Delta Conveyance Project.” DWR’s notice today acknowledges that the proposed single tunnel is a new project, not a continuation of the Twin Tunnels permitting process. For comparison of timelines, the previous (now dead) Twin Tunnels planning process began under Governor Schwarzenegger. Reaction from Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director, Restore the Delta:  “We are disappointed that the notice of preparation for the Delta tunnel project was released todaybecause:  • A tunnel [...]

Delta Flows: Sea Level Rise and The Delta

I was minding my own business, checking Twitter Tuesday morning, December 10, when I saw this article from the Washington Post: “Septupled”—I had to think about that for a moment. Greenland’s rate of ice melt increased by a factor of seven times, reported the Post. Since 1992, Greenland’s ice sheet lost just 33 billion tons to neighboring oceans, compared with 254 billion tons now—an acceleration of 7.6 times. The 89 scientists authoring the Greenland report stated: “The Greenland Ice Sheet holds enough water to raise mean global sea level by 7.4 [meters, or about 32 feet on average].” The current melting rate is enough to raise global sea levels vertically about 1 centimeter (about three-eighths of an inch), they found.  Greenland study co-author Andrew Shepherd of [...]

Deep Dive: California Water Policy Challenges in 2020

by Tim Stroshane, policy analyst, Restore the DeltaWhile engaging with the Newsom Administration’s “water resilience portfolio” process and the governor’s “single-tunnel option,” we at Restore the Delta kept our eyes on the bigger picture. That picture includes a climate emergency: all bets are off on a stable climate moving forward decades and even centuries. That picture includes the health, well-being, and social and economic prospects of the Delta’s environmental justice communities.  The big picture also, sadly, includes a “single-tunnel option” for diverting water from the Delta. That proposal has new moving parts, each of which mesh into a power play by San Joaquin Valley growers and their water agencies to control California’s water future. With prospects of desiccating heat, fires, [...]

Delta Flows: The Political Science of Bernhardt’s Biological Opinions

By Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla Governor Gavin Newsom has never been one to hesitate expressing his values in opposition to President Trump. However, as noted by Politico, and plenty of California water policy folks, there was no direct response from the Governor to the Trump administration biological opinions filled with species protection and water quality rollbacks and miscalculations. Instead, we heard from the California Natural Resources Agency, “We will evaluate the federal government’s proposal, but will continue to push back if it does not reflect our values.” Shouldn’t the Newsom administration be ready by now to articulate their sincere values regarding Delta management? And more importantly, shouldn’t the Newsom administration be ready to act on their water values as forcefully as they do [...]

SB1 Needed Time-Out

As our followers know, Restore the Delta has been busy supporting SB 1 with protections for Delta species. And we continue to support these goals and the   full bill as it was initially written. However, there are new complications.  Parties with good intentions worked to add strong clean water rules, which we tend to favor as an organization. But these rules are strongly opposed by the Central Valley Flood Control Association because they will interfere with needed dredging and excavating for flood control measures.  We also favor and argue for good flood control measures for protection of human life, climate change mitigation, and ironically water quality protection. (Flood events are not good for water quality.) We understand that this issue needs [...]

RTD Update: Taking Care of Business Edition

It has been another busy day at Restore the Delta. These days, we are spending more time weighing in on processes that protect the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary than we are pushing a public message. That’s because we are in the let’s-get-stuff-done phase of our work. But that doesn’t mean our followers shouldn’t be aware of our efforts.   Here are some recent RTD actions:We have been advocating with Delta agricultural and fishing groups for passage of SB 1 — to protect Delta fisheries. have joined comments created by our coalition partners for federal and state protection of Delta tributaries and waterways. have written comments about the linkages between climate change impacts to the Delta and the linkage to local groundwater sustainability planning [...]

Delta Flows: Learning from the Bullet Train Mess

Happy Hot Monday! We hope everyone is staying hydrated and cool during our first heat wave of the season.As we scanned the news today this story jumped out as something for Delta activists to think about.This LA Times story is truly a heartbreaking cautionary tale about the impacts of large infrastructure projects on farming communities. High-speed rail route took land from farmers. The money they’re owed hasn’t arrived – LA Times 6/10/19 “One problem was the agency’s decision to issue construction contracts with only 15% of the rail design completed, a so-called design-build approach. With only preliminary designs of highway bridges, rail structures and utility relocations, it was difficult to know how much land would be needed and the degree to which [...]

Do CA DWR “Hearings” Actually Listen?

by Tim Stroshane, Policy Analyst, Restore the Delta The concrete-walled room was intimate and windowless, with chairs arranged into several rows facing toward a screen onto which a slide projector beamed DWR’s PowerPoint presentation. Placed in each corner was an easel with large displays for different facets of the State Water Project system. Each easel had a DWR staff person standing with it. To the side was a table where a court reporter sat with a laptop into which she would pour words stated at the event. There would be no questions or statements made in front of the assembled public this agency nominally serves.A “public meeting” held by DWR on May 13, 2019 once more illustrates that DWR officials [...]

Delta Flows: A Day For California History Books. But What’s Next?

When scholars of California history and California water review the decisions our state leaders made to plan for the impacts from climate change, they will look back at May 2, 2019 as the pivotal date in our state’s water planning processes.  As the Department of Water Resources, under Governor Newsom’s direction, rescinded permits for California WaterFix from the State Water Resources Control Board, a decision was made to begin new water planning processes with the intention to make California water resilient in the decades ahead, while providing better protections for the Delta and Delta communities. While the vast majority of our followers recognize that the decision to end the twin tunnels is a huge victory for the Delta and the [...]

Delta Flows: Delta Residents and the Single Tunnel Plan

In a recent column for CALmatters, Ellen Hanak and Jeffrey Mount of the Public Policy Institute of California offer a bit of advice to us Delta residents.“By proposing to build one tunnel instead of two, Gov. Newsom has opened the door for a grand compromise. The Delta’s many interests should seize this opportunity.” Thanks for the tip, PPIC. Residents of the San Francisco Bay-Delta (there are more than 4 million of us) agree to evaluate proposals by the Newsom administration with clear eyes and in a spirit of collaboration. Here are some questions Delta people plan to ask as we engage with this new process. Does the plan reduce water exports? The primary purpose of a single Delta tunnel is no [...]