[env-trinity] Stockton Record 7 12 2010

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Mon Jul 12 10:55:36 PDT 2010


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Drills to test idea of Delta tunnel


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 <javascript:NewWindow(500,550,'/apps/pbcs.dll/personalia?ID=999',0)> Alex
Breitler

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Alex Breitler

Record Staff Writer

July 12, 2010 12:00 AM

The Delta will be poked and prodded again starting next month, as the state
drills hundreds of holes into river bottoms, banks and islands.

The goal: to learn more about building a 43-mile tunnel to take much of
California's water supply from the estuary.

Meanwhile, 160 new letters were sent Thursday to Delta property owners,
seeking permission to access their lands for drilling and other survey work.
Many similar requests already have been denied, spurring an ongoing legal
fight.

To comment

Read the drilling plan at http://tinyurl.com/29jskrb. 

To comment by July 31, 

e-mail Michelle Beachley at mbeachle at water.ca.gov, or write to Beachley at
the Department of Water 

Resources, Division of Environmental Services, PO Box 942836, Sacramento, CA
94236-0001.

The drilling is part of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, an effort to secure
the state's water while also restoring tens of thousands of acres of wetland
habitat in the Delta.

That plan is zeroing in on some kind of peripheral canal or tunnel to divert
fresh water from the Sacramento River past the Delta to giant export pumps
near Tracy.

Some drilling already has occurred. But more is needed now that a tunnel is
seriously considered as an alternative to the long-studied canal, officials
say.

A map of the drilling sites reveals the apparent route of the tunnel,
slicing north to south through the heart of the Delta.

Here's what the state plans to do:

> River drilling. About 80 holes less than a half-foot in diameter will be
drilled into river bottoms from boats or barges anchored in more than a
dozen waterways, from the Sacramento River in the north to Old River in the
south. Any tunnel would have to pass beneath these streams.

Officials say the work will not affect public access to the waterways.

> Land drilling. Holes also will be drilled in 220 to 240 land locations,
with the holes varying in depth from 5 feet to 500 feet.

> Canal or tunnel intakes. Many of the drilling sites are clustered on the
Sacramento River near Hood, where the diversion would begin. Depending on
the size of the canal or tunnel - and that is a subject of much debate -
water would be diverted from up to five intakes, and pushed into the canal
or tunnel by powerful pumps capable of moving anywhere from 3,000 to 15,000
cubic feet of water per second.

The tunnel option would actually include two twin tubes, which could range
from 18 feet to 33 feet in diameter. Cost estimates also vary based on size,
from $7.3 billion to $12.3 billion.

But landowners are resisting even before a final decision is made.

Some of the latest drilling is proposed on properties whose owners refuse to
allow the state access. The state has since sued; more than 150 cases have
been clustered together and are pending in a San Joaquin County courtroom.

"We'll do (those properties) when we get access," said Matt Notley, a
spokesman for the state Department of Water Resources.

Another batch of land-entry requests went out Thursday, he said. Of those
160 requests, 39 will go to landowners in San Joaquin County.

Not all landowners have been uncooperative.

"Generally speaking, on the ground the experience of folks that have been
out there doing the work has been pretty constructive," said Karla Nemeth, a
spokeswoman for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.

Farmers fear that the Delta as we know it will die with its fresh water
diverted. And a tunnel hasn't eased their concerns, even though it would
have a smaller footprint than a surface canal, said Bruce Blodgett, head of
the San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation.

"It's still water that's going to be taken out of the system," Blodgett
said.

Not all of the drilling to begin next month is directly related to a tunnel.
Work is also planned to investigate areas that might be converted to wetland
habitat, another key component of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.

The drilling could continue through 2012. River drilling, however, will
occur only in the months of August, September and October.

 

Byron Leydecker, JcT

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 land/fax

415 519 4810 mobile

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