My Opinion: Should California build the new water diversion tunnels as outlined in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan?

 

Yes, the two new water diversion tunnels should be constructed to provide another source of water conveyance for the state of California.  However, I think there should be a compromise such that the canals and levees of the Delta will be maintained to current standards, or better, in addition to building the water diversion tunnels.

sac-river-intake
Illustration of the proposed water intake from the Sacramento River

Building the two tunnels will ensure that there is another reliable water source for California in the event that a natural disaster strikes the San Joaquin Delta.  But the Army Corps of Engineers will need to prioritize the upkeep of the earthen levees of the Delta and ensure that sufficient water is diverted into the Delta to counterbalance the water being diverted away by the tunnels.

 

water-grab
Many opponent to the new tunnels equate the plan to a major water grab by corporate agribusiness

Additionally, the water that is pumped from the federal and state pumps near Tracy should not exceed current levels, since over-pumping is already a major issue with fisheries depletion, and saltwater encroachment in the Delta.

Since many opponents to the proposed water tunnels fear that the large agribusinesses and Southern California municipalities will demand excessive water deliveries to make the cost of the project feasible, the new tunnels will need be regulated so that there is not a substantial water-grab by agribusinesses.

 

If the new water diversion tunnels are built, and buried underneath the San Joaquin Delta, it is imperative that the state of California prioritize the ecological restoration of parts of the Delta as was outlined in the initial proposition to build the diversion tunnels.  If the idea is to reduce the water demand from the San Joaquin Delta, then the state agency responsible for the California WaterFix plan, and the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, need to make good on their proposal to restore the ecology of the Delta.

 

the-delta-plan-cover-02

 

After having researched the many angles regarding the construction of the two new tunnels, I concede that my initial position against building the tunnels has changed.  I realize that arguments against building the tunnels are valid, especially the position of the San Joaquin Delta farmers that are fearful of the Delta drying up if the tunnels take too much water from the sources feeding the Delta.  Opponents of the tunnels when talking about the current condition of the fresh water in the Delta say “This year we are having terrible issue with salinity and low water levels. It’s a drought year. With the tunnels in operation, it will be permanent drought conditions in the Delta.”  When considering the delicate balance where the San Joaquin Delta already teeters, the threat of diminished water flow into the Delta is well founded.

But it is also important for the state of California to ensure other ways to ensure water reliability.  In a perfect system, the new diversion tunnels will be built, and the state will also regulate how much water is being drained at the pumps, in addition to the Delta barriers being prioritized for maintenance.  Having a more diversified water conveyance system will be good for California, but the state cannot allow the Delta to fall into disrepair and potentially harm the economic livelihood of Delta farmers and residents in the process.

 

sunset-in-the-delta

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