Blueprint Will Help Deliver Message for More Water
By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor
An important blueprint for the success of farming in the Central Valley is being developed to present to California government officials. This blueprint outlines what must be done to get water to the eight counties south of the delta. The blueprint is a critical step to help keep farmers in business due to the pressure from the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
Johnny Amaral is the Friant Water Authority, Chief of External Affairs. Amaral overseas Friant’s engagement with San Joaquin Valley farmers, businesses, and related industry groups regarding water policy and water supply matters as well as legislative lobbying and communications activities.
“I remember this isn’t just about farmers. This entire Central Valley depends on a functioning water system. Whether you are a farm owner, a farm worker, a city councilman or somebody who works at a milk plant or at a library, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “San Joaquin Valley is in this together, and it is an all or nothing situation. This is being labeled as a farmer-led effort, and it is misleading.”
“This is a very broad coalition of very unusual interests coming together to promote this,” Amaral said.
Senator Melissa Hurtado Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Fix Friant-Kern Canal
State Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger), representing the 14th Senate District in California, along with principal co-authors Senator Andreas Borgeas (R-Fresno), Assemblymember Devon Mathis (R-Visalia), Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno), and Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), announced last week the introduction of Senate Bill 559. The bipartisan-supported legislation will secure California’s water supply by investing $400 million in general funds towards the Friant-Kern Canal, one of the Central Valley’s most critical water delivery facilities.
Currently, the Friant-Kern Canal’s conveyance capacity has degraded due to several factors, including severe land subsidence caused by regional groundwater overdraft. A portion of the canal, roughly 20 miles long, has subsided twelve feet below its original design elevation, including three feet of subsidence from 2014 to 2017. As a result, the canal has suffered the loss of 60 percent of its carrying capacity—constricting the delivery of water to some of California’s most vulnerable communities.
“From 2012 to 2016, California experienced one of the most severe drought conditions. As a result, many of our farmers, families and entire communities within the Central Valley continue to experience limited access to one of their most fundamental rights—clean water,” Hurtado said.
“The Valley’s socioeconomic health depends on the conveyance of clean and safe water. Not only does this canal support nearly 1.2 million acres of family farms in California, but it provides one in every five jobs directly related to agriculture,” Hurtado continued. “For this reason, I am proud to stand with my colleagues to introduce SB 559. This legislation prioritizes our most disadvantage communities by restoring water supply in the Central Valley.”
“The Friant-Kern Canal has lost 60 percent of its carrying capacity in some locations. This problem threatens about 350,000 acres of highly productive farmland below the damaged portion of the canal, and also limit opportunities to maximize groundwater recharge projects that will be very important to helping the Valley comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act,” said Jason Phillips, CEO of the Friant Water Authority. “On behalf of the farmers, businesses, and communities who rely on the Friant-Kern Canal, we very much appreciate Senator Hurtado’s leadership on this legislation.”
“Today, we are fighting for the future of the Central Valley, and I am pleased to join my colleagues in this bipartisan effort and support funding for the Friant-Kern Canal,” Borgeas said. “Valley farmers and our communities depend on this infrastructure to ensure a reliable supply of water. By restoring the canal to its fully operational state, we ensure the delivery of clean and reliable water supply to our communities and farmers. This investment in our water infrastructure is long overdue and critical for our valley.”
“California faces a stark reality when it comes to water,” Arambula said. “Scarce water supplies, aging infrastructure and a growing population are some of the stressors on our state’s water system. That is why we need real-time solutions to our long-term water challenges. Restoring the Friant-Kern Water Canal will help us protect our existing water supply while we work on reaching sustainable solutions that will get water out to our communities.”
“SB 559 is crucial to keep the Friant-Kern Canal, the largest artery for water on the east side of the Valley, afloat. This measure is extremely important to keep this economic engine which powers our economy and provides tremendous benefit locally, statewide and even nationally. Failing to fix the Friant-Kern Canal is not an option, simply because having water is never an option. I am proud to coauthor this measure with Senator Hurtado and look forward to bringing this funding to the Valley,” Mathis said.
“Water is the lifeblood of the Valley and the backbone of California’s economy. Senate Bill 559 is a step towards bringing the Friant-Kern Canal to its full capacity and addressing the State’s critical water needs. This measure will invest in our future by building water infrastructure projects and helping our local water districts fulfill their sustainable groundwater management plans,” Salas said.
“On behalf of the City of Porterville, I am very appreciative of our leaders’ efforts and support by introducing SB 559,” said Porterville Mayor Martha Flores.
“The Friant-Kern Canal is the lifeblood to the southeastern San Joaquin Valley, and the canal being fully-efficient with the ability to carry surface water to its designed capacity is essential, especially in consideration of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act,” Flores continued. “The Friant-Kern Canal plays a valuable strategic role in the sustainability of Porterville as the city seeks to enhance its surface water recharge program and reduce its groundwater footprint.”
Hope on the Horizon, but Questions Still Unanswered for California Water Systems
By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor
Funding awarded for the new Temperance Flat Dam may have fallen short, but hopes for construction are still very much alive. Jason Phillips, Director of Friant Water Authority and alumni of the San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority, has insight as to why those involved with the project are still optimistic.
According to Phillips, the Temperance Flat project is being moved to a joint power authority (JPA), an action that was previously expected.
“Part of the process is to take the application that the water infrastructure authority submitted and move it to the implementing agency. So this is a really positive step moving forward for implementing the project,” Phillips explained.
He further added, “This is not the result of any kind of conflict. This is exactly what has been envisioned.”
Although progress is being made towards the Temperance Flat JPA, the question as to how existing water structures will be repaired still stands. After Californians failed to pass Prop 3, there has been much anticipation around issues like water supply and infrastructure restoration.
“We’re going to be working with this administration on whether another water bond might make sense or whether there are other mechanisms to help finance the infrastructure to keep farming viable in the valley,” Phillips said.
Jason Phillips on Groundwater Recharge, Water Bond, and Subsidence
Editor’s Note: Jason Phillips is the CEO of the Friant Water Authority, as well as a member of the Board of Directors with the San Joaquin Water Infrastructure Authority (SJWIA), which is behind the building of Temperance Flat Dam. Editor Patrick Cavanaugh sat down with Jason Phillips, and this interview reflects the topics discussed.
Cavanaugh: The California Water Commission rejected all of the storage proposals for Prop 1 money due to all applicants not showing enough in the public benefit ratio. They have all appealed to the Commission, and their decision will be at the end of July. It’s extraordinary that the California Water Commission does not see groundwater recharge as a public benefit.
Phillips: The law was written in such a way that groundwater recharge, which is what we desperately need, is not considered a public benefit. But I must say that the SJWIA team putting together the application did a great job of using water out of Temperance for multiple benefits, including salmon and keeping water in the valley for groundwater recharge, and I hope the Water Commission can see that.
Cavanaugh: The Commission requires a 1:1 ratio, meaning for every $1 spent on the project, it must benefit the public by $1. Temperance Flat Dam was shown that for each $1 spent, it would give back $3.
Phillips: That’s right, and that’s what is necessary. Anybody who looks into what salmon requires surviving—well, it’s cold water. So the ability to generate more cold water in the upper San Joaquin River is nearly impossible. So if you can get a new reservoir over 600 feet high and have a cold water pool, that would provide a benefit. And that’s what the consultant looked at. The commission in their initial analysis assigned zero benefits to salmon, so that’s why we got such a low score.
But if you look at alternatives to trying to provide that salmon benefit in the river, there aren’t a lot of other options, which is why it’s such a significant benefit for Temperance. And again, it’s not sending the water out of the valley by sending it to the San Joaquin River and recirculating it back to growers and cities … so that we can get the groundwater recharge.
Cavanaugh: Of course, Temperance Flat Dam will triple the current storage of Millerton Lake, and a significant benefit will be groundwater storage?
Phillips: It would almost exclusively help groundwater storage because the surface supplies that are generated in Temperance would be used to supplement what’s being pumped, so people can put that water in groundwater recharge basins or they’re able to use the water and not have their groundwater pumps running. That is the absolute best form of recharging, is somewhat able to shut their groundwater pump off, have a delivery of surface water instead of that, and let the natural recharge take place.
Cavanaugh: Let’s talk about the new $8.9 billion water bond that will be on the November 2018 ballot and written by Jerry Merel, a former deputy director of the California Department of Water Resources and a longtime water-project advocate.
Phillips: About 18 months, Jerry had a conversation with me about what would the San Joaquin Valley need in a water bond to help get it out of the problem that … it’s in with groundwater overdraft? And recognizing that Prop 1 was the state’s path for Temperance Flat and that there’s a different path for the tunnels, north of the Delta. So those two are not part of this November 2018 bond.
And I told Dr. Merel at the time that we needed to fix our canal system. We have to be able to move water when it’s available to the growers, into the cities, and never miss a drop of available surface water. And to do that, we have to fix the Friant–Kern canal and the Madera canal. We have to expand the conveyance between the existing canals. And he thought that was a great idea. It’s something that should have broad statewide support. It has support from conservation groups up and down the valley.
Cavanaugh: Is this specifically for canal infrastructure repair?
Phillips: It is specifically for infrastructure for conveyance projects that would help recharge the groundwater aquifer.
Cavanaugh: The $9 Billion has a lot of water for all regions of state?
Phillips: it’s broader than just infrastructure. It targets the different regions of the state for what they need most. Recycling and desalination are huge for the southern California coastal community. So it targets cost sharing money there. If you go to northern California, there are things that Sacramento rice growers really need to support their water needs. In the central valley, it’s more water infrastructure for conveyance that can complement new storage and water conveyance in the Delta. It also includes a lot of money to help the groundwater sustainability agencies fund their plans that are required under the groundwater law.
Cavanaugh: Prop 1 was $2.7 billion, and this one is nearly $9 billion.
Phillips: That is… it is real money. And I think what California will realize is that there’s a real need for that. And when you look at the size of California, and it’s projected that the bond money will be used as far south as San Diego and the Salton Sea and as far north for repairs at Oroville.
When you look at the scope of the state of California … you see that the need is much bigger than that, when it comes to the state’s water infrastructure.
And regarding the $2.7 for storage—on top of that, the projects will require substantial private investment. And we are all looking at that, and I think there’s a lot of interest. There’s still a need for more storage to the extent that even the water agencies themselves and the growers that are part of those agencies are willing to fund. And we’re still looking at whether the state or federal governments will help cost share it.
Cavanaugh: if the California Water Commission never funds Temperance Flat, is it possible to get it privately funded?
Phillips: Friant Water Authority and other water agencies in the valley are actively and aggressively looking at that right now, doing our feasibility studies to look at whether privately financing the reservoir would make sense. I think it probably will, but it’s a very complicated analysis that we have to do. So by the end of the summer, we’ll hear from the Water Commission, and we should know more about the feasibility of private financing will be available.
Cavanaugh: Regarding the Jerry Merel water bond, where can people go to get more information?
Phillips: People can go to waterbond.org. You can see whether you want to look at it in one page or whether you want to look at the actual text of the bond. It’s straightforward on that website.
Cavanaugh: From where would the investment for the new water bond come?
Phillips: It will all be state dollars and depending on the different categories of where the funding goes. Some of it is for cost-shared work, in the San Joaquin Valley on infrastructure, where it would 100 percent bond funded. No reimbursement required and the money would come straight to the Friant Water Authority for immediate use. We’ve already worked with Department of Water Resources to make sure that, that when the bond passes, we could start submitting requests for some of that funding immediately to begin working on the canal, as early as November 2018.
Cavanaugh: How bad is the subsidence along the Friant Kern Canal?
Phillips: It’s a big problem, and it’s growing. The worst part of it is near the middle of the 152-mile canal, where it has subsided three feet and continues to subside. That subsidence is since 2015. The capacity of the canal has been reduced by about 60%, due to subsidence.
To pass the same amount of flow through that section, the elevation of the water in the canal is very near the top of the canal. And five bridges are impacted by that section where the water comes right up to the bridge, and we’re only at 40 percent of the design capacity there.
Joint Power of Authority Could Save Temperance Flat Dam
By Patrick Cavanaugh, Deputy Editor
A Joint Power of Authority (JPA) is being formed to help preserve money authorized for construction of the Temperance Flat Dam with the passage of California Proposition 1, the Water Bond in 2014. Joel Nelsen, president of California Citrus Mutual, has been engaged in getting the project off the ground.
“It is unfortunate what has happened to the Friant Water Authority leadership and the lack of suitable talent there to run with it. The situation has adversely impacted getting a Temperance Flat water storage program in front of the California Water Commission, whose nine governor-appointed members are responsible for advising the director of California Department of Water Resources, approving rules and regulations, and monitoring and reporting on the construction and operation of the State Water Project. The Water Commission, which elicits preferred priorities from the agricultural industry, will award bond money in early 2017.
The Water Bond approved by voters last fall designates $2.7 billion for water storage. While this amount will help subsidize the construction of the dam, Nelsen noted there needs to be better organization in its planning, “because when we negotiated money for storage planning, we were set on two locations, Temperance Flat, behind Friant dam and east of Fresno, and Sites Reservoir, north of Sacramento. Of course, all along, we have known that farmers were investing a lot of money into it as well, but you have to have a plan,” Nelsen said.
Nelsen explained the JPA consists of city and county leaders as well as farm industry leaders from Merced to Bakersfield, including those from Fresno, Madera, Kings, Kern and Tulare Counties, and will require everyone’s cooperation to get the job done. “The inability to sustain some leadership at the Friant system right now has stalled our ability to make something happen in that regard.
“If we can use the talent within our counties right now to generate some of the proposals until we have the ability to get additional water experts online, I would give those who are working on the JPA all the credit in the world,” Nelsen said.
Senate Water Bill Introduction is a Glimmer of Hope for Water Agencies
FRESNO, CA – Last week’s introduction of Senator Dianne Feinstein’s legislation, the California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2015, is welcome news for the people of the State of California and the Central Valley enduring another devastatingly dry year. Once again, multiple Central Valley water agencies joined together to express their unified voice in support of an expeditious passage of this Senate water bill. This bill comes on the heels of the introduction and passage by the House of Representatives of H.R. 2898, the Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015.
“We are encouraged by Senator Feinstein’s actions with the introduction of this legislation. There is no time to lose as the damaging effects of the drought continue to wreak havoc on local communities, businesses, farms and farmworkers in the San Joaquin Valley and other regions of the State. Immediate solutions are needed, and the District looks forward to working with Members of both the House and Senate to find a reasonable solution that will benefit our great State.”
–Don Peracchi, Chairman of the Board, Westlands Water District
“The South Valley Water Association thanks Senator Feinstein for introducing the California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2015 and encourages the balance of the Senate to make quick work in passing the bill immediately upon return from the August recess. This is a further important step to get legislation that will help those many farms and communities in California who are going without water. We look forward to the members of Congress resolving key differences between the California Emergency Drought Relief Act and H.R. 2898, the Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015, and finding real water supply solutions. The members of the South Valley Water Association stand ready to assist in any way we can.”
–Dan Vink, Executive Director, South Valley Water Association
“The San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors Water Authority thanks Senator Feinstein for the introduction of the California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2015. We realize this is another important step to passing a bill out of the Senate later this year that provides a meaningful legislative solution to the long-standing water supply shortages that is crippling the state. We are optimistic that members of Congress and the Senate can resolve the key differences in this bill, and the previously passed House Bill H.R. 2898, the Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015. The Authority looks forward to working with our legislative leaders to pass legislation that benefits all of California.”
–Steve Chedester, Executive Director, San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors Water Authority
“There is no more important issue facing the Valley than the drought. It is a statewide crisis with the most direct and severe impacts in the Valley. The Kern County Water Agency appreciates Senator Feinstein’s and Senator Boxer’s efforts to help reduce the drought’s terrible impacts by introducing a bill in the Senate that can improve water supplies for farms and cities. We are anxious for the House and Senate to start working on a compromise between Congressman Valadao’s bill and the bill in the Senate, and we encourage the Senate to take swift action on the Feinstein/Boxer bill so that process can begin.”
–Ted R. Page, Board President, Kern County Water Agency
“No area of the State, and perhaps the nation, has suffered more disproportionately the harmful stress of chronic water supply shortages. The San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority is appreciative of the effort of Senators Feinstein and Boxer on the recently introduced California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2015 bill in the Senate. This bill is not only important to the San Joaquin Valley, but it is also vital for the entire state of California. We encourage the Senate to act swiftly, and encourage both the House and Senate legislators to begin work immediately on a meaningful compromise bill to ensure that long-awaited and much-needed relief is realized.”
–Dan Nelson, Executive Director, San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority
“Friant Water Authority welcomes the introduction of Senate Bill 1894, the California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2015, and we thank Senator Feinstein and her staff for all their efforts in bringing this bill forward. The immediate task is to pass Senate legislation so that work can begin to craft a compromise with the House-passed legislation. Our farms and communities have suffered more under these water cutbacks than any other area in the nation. Our people are desperate for solutions that will provide real water for our area. This bill is a critically important step in the process of developing compromise legislation that can be signed into law by the President this year. As the bill advances, Friant looks forward to working with our representatives on both sides of the aisle to achieve drought legislation that will provide real relief for the 2016 water year and beyond.”
All Sectors Of California Have Had to Reduce Water Usage, Except the Environment
By Kyle Buchoff, Correspondent
Mario Santoyo is the Assistant General Manager of the Friant Water Authority as well the Executive Director of the Latino Water Coalition. He suggests the environment give up some of its water, like the other sectors in California, to free up supply for cities and farms that are suffering this year.
He told California Ag Today, “This is the fourth year of a serious drought and the second year of what I call ‘double zeros,’ meaning zero water allocation on the West Side and zero allocation on the East Side of the Central San Joaquin Valley. Historically, a year of double zeros has never happened, much less a second year of it. This translates to the worst possible condtion for agriculture in the Central Valley—ever,” Santoyo said.
“At this point there is clearly nothing we can do relating to Mother Nature; she’s going to do what she’s going to do. But the fact is, it is not just Mother Nature causing this drought; human involvement in the operations and management of water has resulted in this level of crisis,” he said.
Santoyo emphasized that the environment must be considered in any water usage allotment, but “to the degree that there are no requirements to justify the level of the water that it needs, unlike municipal and agricultural allocations, that is not reasonable,” Santoyo noted.
“So as we move further down the drought road in terms of farmer hardship, we’ve tried to appeal to policymakers to rethink how environmental water is being used. We’ve talked to legislators in Washington D.C. and we are talking with the Governor Brown.”
“The governor has implemented a 25 percent water reduction for municipalities, and of course you cannot receive less than a zero water allocation for agriculture, so a similar cutback to environmental water use is warranted,” Santoyo said. “It is very reasonable, given the dire circumstances we all face, that everyone share in the pain. Reductions in environmental water could be reallocated to the communities and farms to ease at least some of the pain.”
Santoyo hopes that state and federal legislators will help to reallocate some of the water supply this summer.
Fresno Ag Commissioner Les Wright Concerned About Regaining #1 County Status
By Patrick Cavanaugh, Associate Editor
Recently, California Ag Today spoke with Les Wright, Ag Commissioner of Fresno County on how that county is traditionally the highest rated in statewide, and nationwide, in agricultural output of many specialty crops, but water restrictions have bumped the county down a few rungs.
“Fresno County, since 1954, has been the number one agriculture producing county in the world, with two exceptions. The most recent exception was in 2013, documented in our last crop report, when the water shortage was a West Side-only issue,” said Wright.
That year, the East Side received a nearly 50 percent allotment from the Friant Water Authority of the federal Central Valley Project. In 2014 there was a zero allocation for both an East-side and a West-side issue.”
“I’m not sure how 2014 will wash out, but other dynamics are also playing into it. Nut crops are very valuable, and they have high yields, and our Southern neighbors are planting a lot of nuts.”
But Wright said that things are different in surrounding counties. “They don’t have the diversity that Fresno County has. I’m very optimistic that once we get our water allotments back, we’ll be number one again. But until that occurs, I’m not sure where we are going to end up.”
“The bottom line: We are not in a position to waste any more flood water. We have groundwater overdrafts all over the Valley, and if we don’t start balancing our water supplies from a regulatory perspective, but also managing when we have these generous years, we are going to end up with tens of thousands of prime agricultural land taken out of production,” said Jacobsma.
Jacobsma was focused on the proposed Temperance Flat Dam that would provide an additional 1.25 million acre feet of storage behind Millerton Lake and Friant Dam which holds only 400,000 acre feet.
“We have spilled over Friant Dam more than one million acre feet of water over the years, which ends up going to the ocean, and Temperance Flat would stop this,” said Jacobsma.
“What Temperance Flat will do is enable California to use the water twice. How do you use it in a non-consumptive way for the environment? We can create cold water pools and augment flows on the San Joaquin River. But then we can pick the water back up and move it to where it needs to go, either as irrigation supplies that year, or to recharge groundwater basins. And we have to get in the other side of the aisle–if you will–and start thinking about this,” noted Jacobsma.
“We’re not talking about grabbing as much water as we can even if we really can’t define why we need it,” said Jacobsma. “We need to say, “Let’s find a way to make the consumptive part go to traditional uses like urban and agriculture, but let’s see how we can manipulate the system with more infrastructure so that we can better manage our existing supplies and get ecosystem benefits as well.”
“That’s really the whole fundamental basis of Chapter 8, which refers to the public benefits of the Water Bond that was passed overwhelmingly by voters last November. We have to find that balance because the public is going to pay only for the public benefits.”
“It would be nice if the public paid for Temperance Flat for us, but they’re not going to. And if we can provide public benefits, we can build a broader base of support. So our objective on Temperance Flat is to take the flood water, put it in the Friant system, send it within the San Joaquin Valley with partners because we are going to have to move some water around, have some flood control, and get some recreational benefits out of it.”
“But if we are going to spend a billion dollars plus trying to get a fishery on the San Joaquin River that has not been there for 60 years–a fishery that is dependent on cold water–why wouldn’t you invest in Temperance Flat and get multiple uses out of it?”
“It is going to take some time to build those coalitions. First you have to build local support, then regional support, then broader state-wide support. That is the kind of effort that we are going to have to go through,” Jacobsma noted.
“The other consideration with regard to Temperance Flat is how we would protect the water it stores. If we get into an operational plan, how do we protect ourselves? If our water users spend more than a billion dollars on surface storage, just to have some regulation or law passed demanding half of the yield, but we’re stuck with that price tag, that’s a huge risk for our guys,” noted Jacobsma.
“So we also need the certainty that whatever we develop will be available for us for a definitive amount of time–you know 40, 50, 100 years,” Jacobsma said. “We have to know that the money is going to be well spent in paying dividends down the road. And we will commit under the operations plan to provide the ecosystem benefits that we agreed to.”
While “progress” on the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan’s ambitious and controversial twin tunnels planning continues to mostly be marked by delay, Friant Division contractors and the Friant Water Authority are looking long and hard at findings in troubling computer modeling.
Friant Water Authoritydirectors were told at their August 28 meeting in Visalia that the twin tunnels proposal to bypass the fragile Delta not only lacks benefits for Friant users, it could actually make Friant’s future dry year water supply problems worse.
“Computer modeling shows it is a losing proposition with less water supply reliability to Friant, particularly in dry years,” said Ronald D. Jacobsma, FWA General Manager.
The FWA and its member districts have been evaluating the state’s twin tunnels plan to determine if Friant users would benefit from the two tunnels’ development. That includes San Joaquin River Exchange Contractor water, Cross Valley Canal water and San Joaquin River Restoration Program recirculation in addition to assumptions as to allocation of costs amongst water contractors.
All of this is crucial in Friant’s BDCP consideration because the tunnels, expected to cost many billions of dollars, are to be financed on a “beneficiary-pays” basis. Jacobsma said project proponents have indicated Friant’s share could be about $3 billion.
“The current process has lots of uncertainty,” Jacobsma said. “The bottom line is they won’t be starting construction any time soon on those twin tunnels.”
Delay, in fact, popped up again in late August when the California Department of Water Resources indicated that the BDCP needs more work as a result of the massive volume of public comments received on a draft environmental impact report.
Nancy Vogel, DWR spokeswoman, told the Sacramento Bee, “We’re going through it and we’re going to revise and send it back out for public review. We continue to look for ways to reduce the impacts to Delta residents and landowners.”
With a revised BDCP now scheduled to be released early next year, the newest delay is certain to consume several months. The plan has been seven years in the making.
The entire program’s cost is estimated at $25 billion. The BDCP is not to be funded through the pending state water bonds, should Proposition 1 be approved by voters. The Legislature intentionally kept the bond “Delta neutral” because of controversy surrounding the BDCP and twin tunnels.
The tunnels would be an isolated water conveyance system under the Delta between Courtland and state and federal water export pumping plants near Byron, northwest of Tracy.
Meanwhile, a new wrinkle in the twin-tunnels plan popped up August 28 when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency suggested the project could violate the Clean Water Act and increase harm to endangered species. EPA said the project could increase Delta concentrations of salinity, mercury, bromide, chloride, selenium and pesticides.