[env-trinity] Trinity Journal: Bay Delta Plan opus ready for public review

Tom Stokely tstokely at att.net
Wed Dec 18 14:31:00 PST 2013


Bay Delta Plan opus ready for public review
Amy Gittelsohn The Trinity Journal | Posted: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 6:15 am
A study on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan with its proposed twin tunnels to get water past the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is massive enough to require a dolly for anyone requesting a hard copy. But lengthy as the documents are, advocates of the Trinity River and Trinity Lake doubt it provides adequate answers to two very important questions — what will Delta water exports be if the project is completed and how will Trinity County communities be affected?
The Draft Bay Delta Conservation Plan and associated Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement were released last week for a 120-day public review period that ends April 14.
The draft documents released by the California Department of Water Resources total 34,000 pages — so most interested people have not yet gotten through it.
From the Trinity Lake Revitalization Alliance, Kelli Gant said, "The position that we have is that the tunnels will make it much easier to move Northern California water to Southern California."
There is no protection in the plan for Trinity reservoir levels, and any mitigation is focused on Delta communities and not those around the reservoirs, she said.
While acknowledging he has not yet read the draft reports, Tom Stokely of the California Water Impact Network isn't expecting much difference from an earlier administrative draft.
"The prior draft that we looked at looked pretty bad," said Stokely, a former natural resources planner for Trinity County. "I don't see how they could possibility repair the fundamental flaws in the document or in the project itself."
The state and federal plan backed by Gov. Jerry Brown includes twin tunnels with the capacity of diverting up to 9,000 cubic feet per second. Thirty-five miles long and each 40 feet in diameter, the tunnels would take water under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, an inland estuary. Water from the north — including diverted Trinity River water — is currently pumped through the estuary for farms and cities in the south in a system that can grind up fish and displace them by causing the San Joaquin River to flow backward. As a result, there are restrictions on that pumping.
The plan is for "dual conveyance," meaning that water could still be pumped through the Delta as well as using the tunnels.
Like Gant, Stokely fears the tunnels will allow much more water from the North State to be diverted south.
"Anything that takes the handcuffs off Delta exports is bad for the Trinity River," he said.
The plan is estimated to cost about $25 billion, including $15 billion for construction of the tunnels to be paid for by water users and $10 billion for habitat restoration in the Delta to come from taxpayers. A water bond to pay for some of the restoration is set for the November 2014 ballot.
The stated goal of the BDCP is to improve wildlife habitat and water supply reliability from the Delta which supplies water to 25 million people from the Silicon Valley to San Diego, and farmers who grow crops on 3 million acres of farmland. Proponents say the current system is vulnerable not only to court decisions pertaining to endangered species but also levee failure from earthquakes.
But Stokely said the plan amounts to building a conveyance system while failing to take actions that in effect would create water.
"A much better investment is to raise the Delta levees, retire poisoned land in the Western and Southern San Joaquin Valley and invest in recycling, conservation, storm water capture and other more reliable and cost-effective methods," he said.
The draft BDCP estimates with the project there will be average annual water exports ranging from 4.7 million acre-feet of water to 5.59 million acre-feet. The estimate is for the year 2025 and is about the same amount of water exported through the Delta now, according to a question and answer section on the BDCP Web site.
"They can’t really know what it’s going to be because there are many other factors at play here," Stokely said, giving as examples climate change, Delta water quality standards that are not being met, area of origin water rights and preserving enough cool water in reservoirs for fish.
Stokely said, "It's a lot of money to put into a project that they don't know what’s coming out the other end of the pipe."
The Draft Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) and associated Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) are available on the BDCP Web site at baydeltaconservationplan.com.
For a DVD copy of the documents, e-mail a request to BDCP.comments at noaa.gov.
Twelve public meetings will be held throughout California in January and February 2014 to provide more information on the contents of the draft documents and to accept public comments. A meeting in Redding is scheduled for 3 to 7 p.m. Jan. 23 at the Red Lion Hotel, 1830 Hilltop Drive.
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