Gov. Brown has proposed massive underground water export tunnels now called the “California Water Fix” though it is essentially the same project as the peripheral canal, which California voters rejected in 1982 by a 62.7% majority. The tunnels could grab the Sacramento River, which is the main supply of fresh water in the Delta and San Francisco Bay estuary. About 30 percent of water exported from the Delta goes to cities. But Big Ag on the southwest side of the San Joaquin Valley get about 70 percent of Delta water, which mostly goes to grow water intensive almonds and pistachios on unsustainable desert soils for lucrative overseas exports. Now pro-tunnel agencies are trying to ram these tunnels through, unless the public speaks up about it — federal agencies may go ahead and permit it by early 2016. Take action by October 30.
We have two options for you to take action against the tunnels. If you have more time, we highly recommend doing #2 Writing a Letter Based On Your Experience & Expertise and/or #1 Sign Our Petition at Change.org (takes less than 5 minutes!). If you cannot find the time to sit down and write your own comment letter on the Delta tunnels, sign our petition to send our letter to California Water Fix officials and Governor Brown. Take action on this immediately! Last public comments are due on October 30, 2015.
Tell state and federal agencies you oppose the Delta Tunnels. Our petition letter outlines three objections to the Tunnels plan for officials based on 1) environmental, 2) public health, and 3) economic concerns. It also encourages investment in shovel-ready water projects that will bring jobs and sustainability to California. In addition to signing this petition, please submit a comment of why you are signing this (in the comment box on the left.. “I’m signing because…”) or customize this letter to make it personal and unique.
Sign and then share your action with friends and family.
Together, Californians can stop this insane project. We have done it before and we can do it again!
Feel free to use our template in .doc format, or copy and paste text below. Any other resources you may need, including what questions to ask or what documents to refer to, we highly recommend checking our FAQs & Research page. Written comments are due by close of business Friday, Oct. 30. Comments should be mailed to BDCP/WaterFix Comments, P.O. Box 1919, Sacramento, CA 95812 or emailed to [email protected].
To copy and paste for letter template:
Subject: Oppose the Delta Tunnels/California Water Fix (Alternative 4A)
I am writing to express my strong opposition to the the Delta Tunnels plan.
The Delta Reform Act of 2009, in which the California State Legislature committed to the “coequal goals” of providing a more reliable water supply for California AND protecting and restoring the cultural, recreational, natural resource, and agricultural values of the Delta, cannot be upheld if the Delta Tunnels come to pass.
The California Water Fix does not meet the restoration goals of the Delta Reform Act; it is simply a plan to export more water out of the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary. The Delta Tunnels will also fail to provide more reliable water because the Delta watershed is already oversubscribed by five times in normal water years.
My objections to the tunnels are threefold:
The California Water Fix does not address the environmental, public health or economic impacts of the proposed Delta tunnels project. Also, the plan ignores alternatives that would save California tax and ratepayers billions of dollars, while investing in the jobs and local water sources that build sustainability.
My environmental concerns with the plan are:
· The impact on wildlife and plant species in the Delta that depend on freshwater include the Delta smelt, chinook salmon, steelhead, San Joaquin kit fox, and tricolored blackbird, protected species already on the brink that will face decimation due to a diminishing food-web.
· At sea, even the ESA-listed South Pacific Puget Sound Orca Whales depend on migrating Delta species that will be harmed by less water flowing through the Delta.
· The tunnels plan seems to ignore Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act which prohibits federal agency actions that are likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered species or that “result in the destruction or adverse modification of [critical] habitat of [listed] species.”
My public health concerns with the plan are:
· The tunnels will cause increased contamination of municipal water and wells for the millions of rural and urban residents living in the five Delta counties.
· The tunnels plan fails to model for potential increases of carcinogens and other formation of byproducts that would cause cancer and other serious health effects.
· Environmental justice communities, who depend on subsistence fishing, will also face food and health insecurities as a result of increased contaminants, specifically mercury contamination, in fish and wildlife populations.
My economic concerns with the plan are:
· For large metropolitan cities such as Los Angeles and San Jose that depend on export water, water rates and/or property taxes will go up, but they will get no additional water.
· No analysis has been done on how the lack of fresh water flows will impact San Francisco Bay tourism and recreation. These industries depend on Delta fresh water flows for their crab and salmon fisheries, wildlife sighting, boating, and their restaurant economy. This industry is worth billions annually.
· Salinity intrusion is already impacting the western Delta farms and removing Sacramento River freshwater from the system will make matters worse. Delta farmers cannot irrigate crops with salt water and they certainly cannot plant crops in contaminated soils. The Delta Ag economy, which consists of generations of family farms and farm workers, generates $5.2 billion for the California economy, annually.
· California coastal fishing communities depend on thriving wildlife. This historic industry is worth billions annually, with the salmon industry worth $1.5 billion annually alone. Thousands of jobs and livelihoods are tied to these industries.
· The operation and construction of the tunnels will obstruct and disable navigable waterways for boating, marinas and other types of leisure activities, in addition to creating conditions of low water flow that will foster invasive aquatic species, such as water hyacinth. Poor water quality also creates unsafe recreation. Recreation and tourism in the Delta generate $750 million annually.
Alternatives to Water Exports Ignored
Far far less expensive and less environmentally destructive alternatives to the Delta Tunnels were largely ignored. The plan does not seriously consider any alternatives other than new, upstream conveyance. The decision-making process (from the outset) has tilted in favor of increasing water exports from the Delta.
Our tax and ratepayer dollars would be much better spent on:
· More aggressive water efficiency program statewide that would apply to both urban and agricultural users.
· Funding water recycling and groundwater recharging projects statewide that would be billions of dollars less expensive for rate payers than constructing a new version of the Peripheral Canal or major new surface storage dams. Meanwhile, these projects move communities towards water sustainability.
· Retiring thousands of acres of impaired and pollution generating farmlands in the southern San Joaquin Valley and using those lands for more sustainable and profitable uses, such as solar energy generation.
· Improving Delta levees in order to address potential earthquake, flooding, and future sea level rise concerns at a cost between $2 to $4 billion and is orders of-magnitude less expensive than major conveyance projects that are currently being contemplated.
· Increasing freshwater flows through the Delta to reduce pollutants so ecosystems and wildlife can be restored.
· Installing fish screens at the south Delta pumps to reduce the current salvage of marine life.
The Delta has problems that need to be addressed, but the CA Water Fix tunnels are a 20th century idea that won’t fix them. It won’t produce more water, more reliable supplies, or improved conditions for the environment in the Delta.
The new EIR/EIS has not adequately addressed my above stated concerns. That is why I oppose the Delta Tunnels/California Water Fix (Alternative 4A).
Reclamation and DWR should prepare and circulate a new Draft EIR/EIS that will include alternatives that reduce water exports and increase Delta flows for consideration by the public and decision-makers. Such alternatives have a far better chance of complying with the Delta Reform Act and the federal Endangered Species and Clean Water Acts.
End of letter