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Environmental Groups Oppose Bay Delta "Conservation" Plan
by Dan Bacher
Monday Oct 7th, 2013 10:51 AM
The Environmental Water Caucus (EWC) says the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the twin tunnels "ignores numerous plans that have been put forth which will solve the Delta’s purported 'crisis' with less costs to ratepayers and the general public and with more ecological certainty."

The construction of the peripheral tunnels would hasten the extinction of Central Valley Chinook salmon, steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, as well as imperil salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers. The tunnel plan would deliver Sacramento River water to corporate agribusiness interests irrigating selenium-laced, drainage impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley while taking vast tracts of Delta farmland, some of the most fertile on the planet, out of production in a hare-brained "habitat restoration" scheme. At its essence, the BDCP is a corporate water grab and green washing scam.
The Environmental Water Caucus, an organization of environmental, environmental justice, commercial and recreational fishing groups, and Native American tribes, has released a letter to federal and state officials demanding that they abandon their proposed plan to dig a pair of massive tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta in order to transport Sacramento River water to the existing pumps at the south end of the Delta.

The proposal, called the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, has as its two main goals to reliably transport more water to San Joaquin farms and Southern California cities and to restore the fisheries and ecology of the Delta. It will do neither. It ignores numerous plans that have been put forth which will solve the Delta’s purported “crisis” with less costs to ratepayers and the general public and with more ecological certainty.

Here are the issues pointed out in the Environmental Water Caucus’ letter:
· It relies on an economic analysis that has illusionary benefits to justify the $25B cost of the project and its expensive tunnels.
· There is a virtual certainty that the costs of a project this size will be exceeded, and that the ratepayers and the general public will be stuck with the cost overruns.
· The $20B of direct project bond interest costs are not included in any cost estimates reported in public documents, as pointed out by a key state watchdog agency.
· There are earthquake protection alternatives which would cost $10B less than the planned project tunnel alternative.
· The project science is biased and has been “cherry picked” to support the tunnels solution, as pointed out by state and federal fishery agencies.
· Delta habitat restoration proposals are being used that are scientifically questionable as fish recovery actions and are being used in place of increased flows of water through the Delta, which would have more certainty of success for fish and habitat.
· It is a plan that intends to export more water through the Delta at the same time that existing legal water claims and forecasted climate change-caused water supply reductions will not provide the water.
· There are no improvements to the existing fish screening facilities in the South Delta, which are notorious fish killers, and which will continue to be utilized under the current proposal.
· The recovery of threatened or endangered fish species and restoration of damaged habitats in the Delta do not require the construction of the tunnels. In fact the tunnels will be particularly disruptive to the Delta habitats, including the nesting territory of iconic Sandhill Cranes.

Clearly, the current BDCP proposal is unnecessary and will have severe environmental consequences. It will not accomplish the claimed biological and species recovery objectives and would be a costly mistake if implemented. The current BDCP project should be reoriented to reduce exports, increase outflows, and implement the necessary structural changes that will accomplish the goals of Delta recovery, improve water supply reliability, and reduce reliance on the Delta.

The cumulative impact of the above critical flaws, contradictions, and omissions leave no choice for the public but to strongly oppose the current Bay Delta Conservation Plan.

Nick Di Croce, Environmental Water Caucus
troutnk [at], 805-688-7813
Conner Everts, Southern California Watershed Alliance
connere [at], 310-829-1229
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta
barbara [at], 209-479-2053
Adam Scow, Food & Water Watch
ascow [at], 415-293-9915

The Environmental Water Caucus includes the following groups:
Butte Environmental Council
California Coastkeeper
California Save Our Streams
California Sportfishing
Protection Alliance
California Rural Legal
Assistance Foundation
California Striped Bass
California Water Impact
Center for Biological
Clean Water Action
Citizens Water Watch
Desal Response Group
Endangered Species Coalition
Environmental Justice
Coalition for Water
Environmental Protection
Information Center
Earth Law Center
Fish Sniffer Magazine
Food & Water Watch
Foothill Conservancy
Friends of the River
Institute for Fisheries
The Karuk Tribe
Klamath Riverkeeper
Lower Sherman Is. Duck
Hunters Association
Northern California Council,
Federation of Fly Fishers
Pacific Coast Federation of
Fishermen's Associations
Planning & Conservation
Restore the Delta
Sacramento River
Preservation Trust
Santa Clarita Organization
for Planning & Environment
Sierra Club California
Sierra Nevada Alliance
Southern California
Watershed Alliance
Winnemem Wintu Tribe