While Gavin Newsom has tried to shoehorn in the Delta tunnel, state lawmakers have been adamant about not including the project in the state budget. With the July 27 deadline looming to agree to a finalized budget for California, state lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom appear to still be split on the controversial Delta tunnel.
In a report sponsored by the California Water Impact Network, policy expert Max Gomberg revealed that the continued funding of the controversial Delta Tunnel – also known as the Delta Conveyance Project – could bankrupt the powerful Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Gomberg is the former climate change and water conservation manager for the State Water Resources Control Board.
Approximately 100 concerned Delta residents gathered at a public forum in the community of Hood Tuesday to express concern with the Delta Tunnel proposal. Among the speakers was State Senator Bill Dodd, Attorney Osha Meserve, State Assemblymember Lori Wilson and State Assemblymember Carlos Villapudua.
The third attempt could be the charm for repairing California’s main waterworks, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
On paper at least, the latest plan by a governor to upgrade the delta into a more reliable state water supply seems to make much more sense than what his predecessors promoted.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s single-tunnel proposal is smaller and more respectful of the bucolic estuary’s small farms, waterfowl habitat, unique recreational boating and historic tiny communities. So, it’s potentially less controversial.
The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) amended a federal permit application last week to change to the preferred tunnel route for the proposed Delta Conveyance Project (DCP), a move that has Delta advocates questioning DWR’s long-term plans for the South Delta.
The agency said the move was necessary to align the federal permit application – known as a Section 404 and filed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) – and a draft environmental impact report that is currently being prepared by DWR. The so-called Bethany Alternative will be the preferred project in both documents, though DWR stressed that the change does not indicate that a decision has been made with regard to the route the tunnel will take if the project is approved.
California just recorded its’ third driest winter in history, so it’s no surprise that State Water Project deliveries have been cut to just 5% of contracted amounts.
This is bad news for regional water agencies who collectively depend on the State Water Project for a fourth of their water supply.
But these agencies have seen the climate change writing on the wall for a long time. In fact, Southern California has been in an extended drought for the last 20 years. Because of this, 11 San Bernardino Valley water agencies have identified close to $650 million worth of local stormwater capture, storage and recycling projects they plan to build over the next 50 years to lessen their dependence on State Water Project imports.
The Metropolitan Water District’s board of directors voted Tuesday to spend another $58 million to support the study and design of an underground tunnel in the North Delta that would divert large amounts of fresh water and send it to municipalities and agribusinesses in southern California.
The Metropolitan Water District likely won’t pick up the slack to cover planning costs for the proposed Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta tunnel That’s a huge shift from MWD’s “all in” support of the previous tunnel project. And MWD’s pull back could create a ripple of iffyness among other State Water Contractors about how much of their own money they want to invest down the line without the giant southern California water purveyor in its usual position as a financial backstop.
Kern County farmers on Wednesday agreed to chip in $14 million over the next two years to kick off another attempt to move water through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta via tunnel.
A declaration suit filed in Superior Court in Sacramento by attorneys for some of the leading environmental groups in America accuses the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) of trying to prevent anyone in California from filing a court action challenging the bonds after the bond sales are underway. Referring to the DWR’s court filing in August, the environmental groups’ Oct. 29 suit says it amounts to the DWR writing a “blank check” to finance the project.