[env-trinity] Redding.com editorial: NorCal Democrats hate delta tunnels -- where's LaMalfa?

Tom Stokely tstokely at att.net
Fri May 31 09:01:22 PDT 2013


NorCal Democrats hate delta tunnels -- where's LaMalfa?

May 30, 2013 3:55 PM | No Comments
I've been struck by the loud and frequent protests from members of Northern California's Democratic congressional delegation at every step of the rollout of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan -- aka, Jerry Brown's twin tunnels to divert Sacramento River water around instead of through the delta.

I've been equally struck by the silence of Rep. Doug LaMalfa, who last time I checked represents a huge portion of the region whose water rights are at risk from increase pressure for exports.

So, you know, I reached out to his office. He called back this afternoon.

His take: "A key component would be to add water storage to make any Bay-Delta plan work."

In brief, with increasing pressure for environmental reasons to allow more water to flow through the Delta at certain times of year, and the big pipes increasing pressure to export water to points south, the all but inevitable loser is the north state. The solution, from LaMalfa's perspective, is to increase storage and supply so there's simply more to go around.

That, he said, could include the proposed Sites Reservoir in Colusa County. It could include enlarging Shasta Dam and its reservoir. It could include new desalination plants to serve coastal cities -- where the seemingly insane costs ($2,000-plus an acre-foot, ten times the price ACID recently earned for some of its irrigation water) can actually pencil. LaMalfa even pointed to the possibility of reviving scuttled projects like the Auburn Dam, the Cottonwood dams and other water projects that were scouted in the 1950s and '60s. (Hey, lakefront property in Willow Creek, anyone?)

House Republicans from California will be rolling out their own water plan sometime later this summer, which may or may not mesh with the state's plans. Stay tuned.

-- UPDATE --

One thing worth adding. You thought the tunnels were expensive, but new water supply isn't cheap either.


Oddly, Rep. John Garamendi, who's issued his own water plan, would entirely agree with LaMalfa about the importance of new reservoirs and other storage.

Water storage north of the Delta is also important, and three proposals are on the books today. An off stream reservoir at Sites, located west of Williams, has great promise for storage and for creating greater flexibility in managing the Sacramento River for salmon runs, water demand, and Delta outflow. This reservoir can deliver 500,000 acre feet of annual yield and the additional flexibility that it offers can under some scenarios save another 500,000 acre feet of water that would otherwise be released into the river systems. Raising Shasta Dam is also possible, as is better conjunctive management of the many aquifers in the Sacramento Valley. State and federal agencies have already commenced studies for these projects. A quick completion of these studies is essential.
When they say "better conjunctive management" of aquifers, by the way, read "more pumping from wells and selling of surface water, a la the recent and controversial ACID deal.
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