The Bay Delta Conservation Plan is a process for obtaining
long-term project permits for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta
centering on the equal goals of conservation of species and
helping to improve water supplies and delivery.
The BDCP aims to separate its water delivery
system from Delta freshwater flows and restore thousands of
acres of habitat, restore river flows to more natural patterns
and address issues affecting the health of fish populations.
As part of the water conveyance, in 2013, California Gov. Jerry
Brown also proposed constructing two $25 billion tunnels to
divert Sacramento River water underneath the Delta and then
deliver the water to the Central Valley and Southern California.
If approved, the BDCP would be implemented over the next 50 years
and construction of the tunnels would not begin for another 10 to
At the May meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council, Dr. Steve
Brandt, Chair of the Delta Independent Science Board, provided
a brief background on the Delta Independent Science Board,
reported on the Board’s recently completed review on non-native
species in the Delta, and discussed the Board’s approach going
forward in light of the recent compensation issues. Also,
Dr. Laurel Larsen spotlighted a recent study looking at the
effects of the Sacramento Regional Sanitation District plant
upgrade on phytoplankton.
The state plans to break [a levee at Shag Slough] in nine
locations to create 3,000 acres of tidal wetlands. It has asked
the county to vacate that section of Liberty Island Road that
runs atop the levee. Taylor Dahlke, the leader of a group
fighting to maintain land access to Shag Slough, the Liberty
Island Ecological Reserve and the region in general told the
Delta Stewardship Council on Thursday night that the state
proposal violates the Delta Plan.
The seven members of the Delta Stewardship Council were seated
in 2010. The Council appointed ten prominent scientists to the
Delta ISB. Over the next decade, the Delta ISB produced over 30
scientific reviews, averaging over 3,000 hours of work per
year. But in 2020, the work of the Delta ISB stalled. The Delta
Stewardship Council reduced funding for the Delta ISB by over
Delta smelt have nearly ceased to appear in “pelagic” fish
surveys carried out in their narrow geographic range in the
upper San Francisco Estuary. As trawl-generated index values
for delta smelt have declined over the past quarter century –
understand there is no reliable estimate of the size of the
delta smelt population — the chorus of voices advocating for
captive rearing and releases of the species has grown
During a typical spring, the silver young salmon swimming in
long tanks at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery east of Sacramento would
be released into the American River and then make their way out
to the Pacific Ocean to grow to adulthood. But with extreme
drought now gripping California and much of West Coast, the
rivers are too warm for the salmon to survive. This week, the
3.5-inch (90-mm) smolt, as the young fish are known, embarked
on a much different journey when they were loaded on to trucks
and driven to the San Francisco Bay for release into cooler
An entire run of endangered winter-run chinook salmon, as well
as the fall-run salmon that make up the core of the California
fishery, are in danger of being wiped out this year if the U.S.
Bureau of Reclamation keeps diverting water to farmers at its
current rate. With state water resources constrained by the
extreme drought, that’s the alarm that environmental, fishing
and tribal groups are sounding after reports show the
Sacramento River will reach dangerous temperatures during
spawning season, based on federal scientific scenarios that
analyze the bureau’s planned water releases.
Don’t be fooled. Governor Gavin Newsom’s decision Monday to
declare drought in most of California, including here, is no
reason for most farmers in Stanislaus County to break out the
party hats. They know full well that words on a declaration
will not generate an extra drop of water for their orchards and
row crops. They also know that a drought declaration could take
some power over the water we do have from our locally elected
irrigation leaders — who represent institutions guiding us
through periodic droughts for more than 100 years — and hand it
to nonelected Sacramento bureaucrats.
Today’s commentary breaks my heart. Why? Because
Restore the Delta is focused on water quality issues, flood
control issues, future planning, and training the next
generation of local water experts – for that is where hope
exists. We are focused on the future because in some ways
we have become very cynical about any positive meaningful
change to Delta management presently — from the lack of care at
the highest levels of government, to local pockets of Delta
communities that will not acknowledge the deterioration of the
estuary before their eyes.
-Written by Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, who serves on
the Executive Committee at Large for Restore the
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will begin releasing warmer
water from the upper layers of the Shasta Reservoir directly
into the Sacramento River to maintain flows, while saving
colder water for the winter-run Chinook salmon migration.
Harmful algal blooms (or HABs) occur when colonies of algae,
under the right conditions, grow out of control and produce
toxic or harmful effects on people, fish, shellfish, marine
mammals, and birds. Every U.S. coastal and Great Lakes state
experiences harmful algal blooms. In California, reports
of harmful algal blooms have increased from 91 in 2016 to 241
in 2019. In 2020, Stockton experienced a severe harmful
algal bloom; it marked the first year that algal blooms spread
into the San Joaquin and Calaveras Rivers so early in the
summer and fall months. Drought and heat are factors that
increase harmful algal blooms …
The little-known Joint Powers Authority charged with getting
the embattled Delta tunnel across its finish line recently
changed executive directors, marking an exit for Kathryn
Mallon, who had stirred controversy for her exorbitant pay and
alleged pressuring of a citizens advisory committee to work
through the most dangerous part of the
pandemic. Meanwhile, as California Governor Gavin Newsom
begins campaigning against the effort to remove him from
office, he’s soliciting huge donations from the same
south-state barons of agriculture who have promoted the
environmentally fraught tunnel concept for years.
A tiny silver fish few people in the Bay Area have heard of
could be a new symbol of the state’s continuing battle over
water resources. San Francisco Baykeeper sued the Biden
administration on Thursday to list the local population of
longfin smelt as an endangered species. The environmental
group’s legal action comes nine years after the federal
government first declared that the fish warranted that status.
Once an important source of food for marine mammals, birds and
chinook salmon, the local population of the longfin smelt has
dropped by 99.9% since the 1980s. Scientists and
environmentalists say that reduction is a direct result of too
much water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin river system being
diverted to farms and other water users rather than flowing
through the bay to the Pacific.
OID and SSJID … have invested considerable money into
improving salmon habitat on the Stanislaus River and as well as
conservation measures aimed at reducing growers’ use of water —
have proposed pushing the spring pulse flow from an anticipated
1,400 cfs at Vernalis to almost 3,000 cfs. … The SSJID and OID
have also worked with the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water
Authority and State Water Contractors that may get only 5
percent of the water they need from the Bureau this year to
purchase the [water] by diverting it once it enters the
The dams that are built in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River
Watershed protect thousands of people and billions of dollar’s
worth of agriculture but they are far too old and far too many
of them need repair. Some unnecessary dams are drying rivers
and putting business in front of the environment.
One of the California Water Commission’s statutory
responsibilities is to conduct an annual review of the
construction and operation of the State Water Project and make
a report on its findings to the Department of Water Resources
and the Legislature, with any recommendations it may
have. Having just finished the 2020 State Water Project
review, the Commission has launched its 2021 State Water
Project review with a theme focused on creating a resilient
State Water Project by addressing climate change and aging
infrastructure to provide multiple benefits for
In anticipation of this week’s Bay-Delta Science Conference, I
thought it would be useful to consider some of what it takes to
understand a complex ecosystem like an estuary and to encourage
everyone working in the San Francisco Estuary – scientists,
policymakers, and local stakeholders – to continue shifting our
ecosystem management focus from the simple to the complex. I’ll
explain why in a moment. Here are four suggestions for
improving ecosystem management in the San Francisco Bay-Delta:
The California Department of Justice (DOJ) filed comments with
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) regarding Sunset
Exploration’s proposal to drill for natural gas in the Suisun
Marsh. Located in the San Francisco Bay-Delta, this 88,000-acre
wetland is home to a number of endangered and threatened
species, including California Ridgway’s rail, black rail, and
Chinook salmon – and is just a few short miles from
environmental justice communities in Solano County…. DOJ
urges the Army Corps to fully consider the proposal’s
significant environmental impacts, including harm to these
communities and protected species, as well as increased
greenhouse gas emissions, before deciding whether to grant the
San Francisco Bay’s life support systems are unravelling
quickly, and a wealth of science indicates that unsustainable
water diversions are driving this estuary’s demise. Yet,
with another drought looming, federal and state water managers
still plan to divert large amounts of water to their
contractors and drain upstream reservoirs this summer.
Meanwhile, the state’s most powerful water districts are
preparing yet another proposal to maintain excessive water
diversions for the long-term. By delaying reforms that the
law requires and that science indicates are necessary, Gov.
Gavin Newsom encourages wasteful water practices that
jeopardize the Bay and make the state’s water future
precarious. -Written by Jon Rosenfield, a senior scientist for SF
The Delta Stewardship Council (Council) announced the hiring of
Ryan Stanbra, the Council’s legislative and policy advisor, to
the key post of chief deputy executive officer. … Appointed
by Governor Brown in 2015, Ryan joined the Council in the role
of legislative and policy advisor. He has played a pivotal role
in advising on critical Council initiatives like implementation
of reduced reliance on the Delta, interagency coordination and
outreach for the Delta Levees Investment Strategy, increasing
funding for critical science investments, and more. He has
served in the acting chief deputy executive officer role since
The Federal government is beginning a program for the
unemployed to retrain as much-needed Delta Smelt.
Following a two-day course, candidates will learn to: Seek out
turbid waters; Spawn in sand at secret locations; Surf the
tides; Make themselves present for counting in mid-water
trawls. Major California water projects and water users
are preparing to hire successful graduates for 1-2 year
Explore the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, one of California’s
most vital ecological and water resources, with a special
discounted education bundle that includes our brand-new Delta
Map and our recently updated Layperson’s Guide to the Delta.
Purchased separately, the map retails for $20 and the guide
sells for $15. But with our Delta Education Bundle you can
get both items for just $30.
Updated water supply allocations announced last week would
still drain upstream reservoirs in order to deliver 4.5 million
acre feet of water to the contractors of the federal Central
Valley Project (CVP) and State Water Project (SWP), devastating
fish and wildlife. This week, the fisheries biologists at the
National Marine Fisheries Service projected that these planned
operations are likely to result in lethal water temperatures
that will kill 89% of endangered winter-run Chinook salmon
below Shasta Dam this year. This mortality estimate is even
worse than what was observed in 2014 and 2015, when salmon
populations were devastated by warm water in their spawning
[F]or those who live in the legal Delta zone – some 630,000
people – the braided weave of the Sacramento and San Joaquin
Rivers and their maze of associated wetlands and levees
provides a place of home, community, and recreation. And, as a
recent study by the Delta Stewardship Council shows, climate
change is tugging on the watery thread holding it all together.
… The council’s overview reveals a grim outlook for the
millions of people that are tethered to the region’s water:
drought similar to that experienced in 2012-2016 will be five
to seven times more likely by 2050. This will result in more
severe and frequent water shortages and, as the report bluntly
states, “lower reliability of Delta water exports.”
As California stares down the barrel of yet another dry year,
alarm bells are already ringing over conditions in the Delta.
Environmental groups, fishermen, tribes, and a host of others
are calling on the State Water Resources Control Board to
complete and implement a long-delayed update to the Water
Quality Control Plan for the Bay and Delta (Bay-Delta Plan), to
protect the imperiled ecosystem. At the same time, plans for a
structure with the potential to divert more water than ever to
southern cities and farms are creeping ahead.
When Ann Hayden first joined EDF in 2002, shortly after
finishing her own stint in the Peace Corps in Belize and
graduate school where she studied environmental science and
management, she was immediately thrown into one of California’s
thorniest water debates: the restoration of the Sacramento and
San Joaquin Bay-Delta, the hub of the state’s water supply. She
hit the jackpot when she was hired by Tom Graff, founder of
EDF’s California office and a renowned water lawyer, and Spreck
Rosekrans, who garnered the respect of the water community for
his ability to understand the state’s hypercomplex water
On the tail end of the second dry winter in a row, with water
almost certain to be in short supply this summer, California
water officials are apparently planning to largely drain the
equivalent of the state’s two largest reservoirs to satisfy the
thirst of water-wasting farmers. Gov. Gavin Newsom must stop
this irresponsible plan, which threatens the environmental
health of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the water supply
for about one-third of the Bay Area residents. We should be
saving water, not wasting it.
A part of the natural water cycle, groundwater is an important
element of California’s water supply, especially in the Central
Valley, where one in four people rely on it entirely. It is an
especially important resource in the Solano Subbasin, a
geographic area that includes Dixon, parts of Vacaville,
Elmira, Rio Vista, unincorporated Winters, Davis, the Montezuma
Hills, Isleton, Sherman Island and Walnut Grove. And every
quarter, the Solano Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Agency
Collaborative, aka the Solano Collaborative, hosts a Community
Advisory Committee meeting and will so again from 3 to 5 p.m.
California’s rivers, wetlands, and other freshwater ecosystems
are in poor health. Water management practices, pollution,
habitat change, invasive species, and a changing climate have
all taken a toll, leaving many native species in dire straits.
And the current approach for managing freshwater ecosystems is
not working. In this video Jeff Mount, senior fellow at the
PPIC Water Policy Center, discusses the many benefits these
ecosystems bring to California, and outlines a path for
improving their condition to secure these benefits for future
[S]cientists were having a hard time telling delta smelt apart
from a fish species from Japan called wakasagi.
… Wakasagi were introduced by the government in the
1950s. There’s no shortage of them here or in Japan. Especially
when they’re young, to the naked eye they look virtually
identical to deltas. They’re so similar, in fact, to the
nearly extinct fish that scientists were worried about
hybridization — that this plentiful species and the delta smelt
would start hooking up, making mixed-species fish babies.
Former Assemblymember Christy Smith announced that she has been
appointed by Speaker Anthony Rendon to serve on the Delta
Stewardship Council. … The Council was created to advance the
state’s coequal goals for the Delta – a more reliable statewide
water supply and a healthy and protected ecosystem, both
achieved in a manner that protects and enhances the unique
characteristics of the Delta as an evolving place.
As Executive Officer Jessica R. Pearson identified in her
December blog on the Delta Adapts initiative, “social
vulnerability means that a person, household, or community has
a heightened sensitivity to the climate hazards and/or a
decreased ability to adapt to those hazards.” With an eye
toward social vulnerability and environmental justice along
with the coequal goals in mind, we launched our Delta Adapts
climate change resilience initiative in 2018.
The major Northern California waterways may be getting a
renewed lease on their ecological and economic lives, as
federal support for protection and restoration of the San
Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary could nearly double in coming years
following enactment last month of the Protect and Restore
America’s Estuaries Act. As one of 28 “estuaries of national
significance” eligible for funding through the new law, the San
Francisco Estuary and other estuaries along every U.S. coast
each may now receive as much as $1 million a year in federal
The year 2020 was an earth-shaking year that forced us to
examine what really matters in our lives. Although much of the
year was arduous, I’m heartened by our fortitude, tenacity, and
professionalism, which allowed us to advance California’s
coequal goals. At the Council, our information technology
department was vital to our rapid transition to teleworking. In
response to Governor Newsom’s March 19 stay at home order, our
team transitioned from almost zero teleworking to 100 percent
by April. This timely transition allowed us to focus on
initiatives imperative to implementing the Delta Plan.
When Palo Alto officials adopted a position in 2018 in support
of the Bay-Delta Plan, which aims to protect the Yosemite
ecosystem by restricting how much water cities can draw from
the San Joaquin River and its tributaries, they knew were
swimming against the prevalent political tide. Prompted by
water conservationists and environmentalists, the City Council
went against recommendations from the city’s Utilities
Department staff and its water supplier, the San Francisco
Public Utilities Commission, which relies on the Tuolumne River
for much of its water.
On Dec. 20, the Delta Stewardship Council will vote to
determine whether the tunnels project — officially known as
California WaterFix — complies with what’s known as the “Delta
Plan,” a set of policy goals, mandated by state law, that put
protection and restoration of the fragile estuary’s eco-system
on an equal footing with more reliable water supplies.
A long-debated water plan that could change the
course—literally—of water in California, will be up for a vote
by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) next month.
Originally scheduled for November, the vote has been postponed
until December 11, per California Gov. Jerry Brown and
Gov.-elect Gavin Newson’s request.
In the universe of California water, Tim Quinn is a professor emeritus. Quinn has seen — and been a key player in — a lot of major California water issues since he began his water career 40 years ago as a young economist with the Rand Corporation, then later as deputy general manager with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and finally as executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies. In December, the 66-year-old will retire from ACWA.
This month’s elections may have mortally wounded California’s
chances for a long-delayed $23 billion water tunnel project.
… The project’s biggest cheerleader, Gov. Jerry Brown
(D), is leaving office because of term limits and his
successor, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), lacks’ Brown’s enthusiasm
for the tunnels.
Nine Democratic legislators representing the the Sacramento-San
Joaquin River Delta are calling on the Trump administration to
deny California’s request for a $1.6 billion loan to help pay
for the twin tunnel project championed by Gov. Jerry Brown.
The spring and summer of 2018 saw frenzied activity around
California WaterFix, the latest iteration of a decades-long,
on-again-off-again effort to convey fresh water from the
Sacramento River to the South Delta export pumps while
bypassing the Delta itself. Governor Jerry Brown has made
WaterFix a top priority, but as his administration heads into
its final months, the project – one of the largest
infrastructure projects in state history – still faces a raft
If Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is elected governor as expected, he’ll
keep building the state’s two contentious public works
projects: the bullet train and twin water tunnels. … The
Democratic front-runner and his underdog rival, Republican
businessman John Cox, competed in a debate Monday. But the
train, tunnels and other vital state issues weren’t raised. So
I [George Skelton] called Newsom and he phoned back. I also
called and emailed Cox, but neither the candidate nor his staff
Gavin Newsom and John Cox both drive zero-emission Teslas.
That’s about where the common ground ends between California’s
candidates for governor when it comes to the environment. …
Cox opposes as a “boondoggle” [Gov. Jerry] Brown’s $17 billion
proposal to move water from Northern California to Southern
California through twin tunnels in the Sacramento-San Joaquin
River Delta. … Newsom backs a one-tunnel option as more
California’s proposal to construct two massive tunnels
underneath the Delta northwest of the city to divert Sacramento
River water south would “devastate” Stockton and other
communities in and around the Delta, especially what a new
report refers to as “environmental justice communities” that
often have been ignored in the discussion around the tunnels.
The estimated cost of the Delta tunnels project, Gov. Jerry
Brown’s controversial plan to re-engineer the troubled hub of
California’s water network, has jumped to nearly $20 billion
when accounting for inflation.
The San Diego County Water Authority’s board of directors gave
conditional support Thursday to the California WaterFix, the
state’s $17 billion plan to upgrade key water
infrastructure. San Diego joins the Metropolitan
Water District in Los Angeles and Santa Clara County
Water District in Silicon Valley in backing one Gov. Jerry
Brown’s signature long-term projects.
Critical permits and legal challenges are still pending, and
some farming groups still haven’t committed to paying for part
of Gov. Jerry Brown’s controversial $17 billion Delta tunnels
project. But even with the uncertainty, backers of the project
are poised to ask the Trump administration for a $1.6 billion
federal loan that millions of Californians ultimately would
have to repay through increases in their water bills.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California Tuesday
reaffirmed its approval of an $11-billion investment in a
massive water delivery project with a vote that highlighted a
deepening division on the agency’s board.
California is about to embark on one of the biggest public
works projects not just in its own state history, but in any
state’s history. … And if that weren’t enough, it now appears
construction will be led by an entity entirely new to such a
massive water project.
California’s two Democratic senators have committed themselves
to opposing a controversial House provision that would block
judicial review of the state’s WaterFix tunnel project,
reprising a familiar Capitol Hill plot. These California water
narratives start bubbling up in the House, and then they often,
although not always, dry out in the Senate.
A historic vote on the Delta tunnels project is getting a
do-over. Southern California’s powerful water agency — the
Metropolitan Water District — said Thursday its board will vote
again in July on whether to pay for the lion’s share of the
project, known officially as California WaterFix.
When [Gov. Jerry] Brown became governor again in 2011, a bullet
train project had been launched with voter approval and a
successor to the peripheral canal, twin tunnels beneath the
Delta, was being actively pursued, thanks largely to his
Republican predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The high-ranking lawmaker who wants to block judicial review of
a massive California water tunnels project calls his maneuver
something close to standard operating procedure. And, like it
or not, he’s right. In the latest example of a controversial
tactic, the chairman of a key House panel included language
blocking judicial review of California’s WaterFix project in a
fiscal 2019 Interior Department funding package.
On Tuesday, veteran Rep. Ken Calvert of Riverside County
released a 142-page draft spending bill for fiscal year 2019
for the Interior Department and related agencies. Tucked into
the bill, on page 141, is a brief provision that would prohibit
state or federal lawsuits against “the Final Environmental
Impact Report/Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Bay
Delta Conservation Plan/California Water Fix … and any
resulting agency decision, record of decision, or similar
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and two
other water districts that agreed to fund the California
Waterfix tunnel project announced today [May 14] the formation
of a public agency that will be charged with its design and
construction. … The California Department of Water
Resources also announced that it has created the Delta
Conveyance Office …
Fresh off recent victories securing billions of dollars in
financing for his ambitious plan to reroute California’s water
system, Gov. Jerry Brown offered a genial yet urgent reminder
Thursday of the need to set the project on stable footing
before he leaves office next year.
Gov. Jerry Brown warned local water agency
officials throughout California on Thursday that unless
the delta tunnels project gets needed state and federal permits
soon and continues advancing, the major infrastructure project
may not happen in their lifetime.
The South Bay’s largest water agency gave a big lift to Gov.
Jerry Brown’s plan for a pair of water conveyance tunnels
through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta on Tuesday,
committing $650 million to the effort. The $17 billion tunnels
project, which would help move water from Northern California
to the drier south, has been among the governor’s top
priorities but has lacked the necessary funding to move
A Bay Area water agency agreed Tuesday to pump $650 million
into Gov. Jerry Brown’s Delta tunnels project, providing a
meaningful boost for the controversial $16.7 billion plan. The
4-3 vote by the Santa Clara Valley Water District brings the
tunnels project, which would overhaul the troubled heart of
California’s aging water delivery network, a step closer to
being fully funded.
Two nonprofit groups are accusing Gov. Jerry Brown of
improperly working with Metropolitan Water District board
directors behind the scenes to put pressure on a key vote for a
massive water tunnel project.
In a vote that could give Gov. Jerry Brown’s $17 billion Delta
tunnels plan new momentum, Silicon Valley’s largest water
agency on Tuesday will consider changing course and endorsing
the controversial project to make it easier to move water to
After a five-hour packed public hearing, the board of Silicon
Valley’s largest water provider late Wednesday night put off a
closely watched vote until next week on whether to provide up
to $650 million to support Gov. Jerry Brown’s $17 billion plan
to build two giant tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin
River Delta to make it easier to move water south.
Just six months ago, a major Bay Area water district only would
commit about a third of the $650 million Gov. Jerry Brown’s
office had hoped it would pay for his controversial Delta
tunnels project. In a sudden reversal, the Santa Clara Valley
Water District board now may pay the full amount.
In a dramatic reversal of its stance just six months ago,
Silicon Valley’s largest water district has scheduled a vote
Wednesday on a plan to commit up to $650 million to Gov. Jerry
Brown’s controversial proposal to build two massive tunnels
under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
A decision by California’s largest water supplier on April 10
ended months of uncertainty over its role in the funding of
California Water Fix, the state’s plan to build new water
conveyance infrastructure in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
… Financing is not the only issue that needs to be addressed.
There is still a long list of regulatory and legal hurdles the
project needs to clear.
When the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
voted to finance the lion’s share of the delta tunnels project,
some on the board called it a bold stroke of leadership. The
delegations from Los Angeles and San Diego, however, called the
move alarming, financially risky and irresponsible.
A powerful Southern California water agency voted Tuesday to
cover two-thirds of the cost of building the controversial
Delta tunnels, in one of the most significant California water
actions in decades.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California voted
Tuesday to shoulder most of the cost of revamping the system
that delivers water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta to
the Southland, committing nearly $11 billion to building two
California’s largest water agency on Tuesday approved a nearly
$11 billion plan to help fund two enormous tunnels, breathing
new life into Gov. Jerry Brown’s ambitious and controversial
plan to remake the state’s water system.
The largest water district in California agreed Tuesday to fork
over nearly $11 billion to build two tunnels that will siphon
water south from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, a
major boost for Gov. Jerry Brown’s pet project.
In what will be a crucial decision, the board of the
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is expected
to vote Tuesday whether to approve nearly $11 billion in
financing to help build two giant water tunnels in the center
of the state’s waterworks or $5.2 billion to construct a single
tunnel. Lobbying on the long-planned project continued Monday
as Gov. Jerry Brown asked MWD directors to move ahead with both
In agenda materials posted Friday afternoon, the staff of the
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California presented
two options for the board to vote on Tuesday: Approve $5.2
billion in funding for a single tunnel that would be built in
the center of the state’s waterworks, or OK up to $10.8 billion
to help finance the construction of two tunnels.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is
dropping plans to push ahead with a two-tunnel proposal to
revamp the state’s water delivery system, opting to pursue a
scaled-back version instead.
Southern California’s biggest water agency is considering
picking up most of the bill for overhauling the state’s
waterworks without any guarantee that it will eventually recoup
its additional, multibillion-dollar investment. At a board
workshop Tuesday, officials of the Metropolitan Water District
of Southern California outlined ways in which the agency could
finance the construction of two giant water tunnels under the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Pushing ahead with an ambitious effort to take a majority stake
in the state’s troubled $16.7 billion tunnels project, Southern
California’s behemoth water agency announced Tuesday that the
plan would cost its ratepayers less than $5 a month.
Jock O’Connell, international trade adviser at California-based
Beacon Economics, said the infrastructure sector will be one of
the first to feel the impact of the tariff. … So “if you’re
building new bridges, or the twin tunnels the governor wants to
build, or the high speed rail system,” you’re going to have to
start recalculating, he said.
The Los Angeles City Council moved Wednesday to officially
oppose staged construction of a proposed multibillion-dollar
water-delivery tunnel project if it would result in greater
costs or a greater portion of the financial burden for Los
A Sacramento County judge on Monday declined to temporarily
stop the hearings that will decide the fate of Gov. Jerry
Brown’s Delta tunnels project after its opponents sued alleging
the process had been tainted by secret meetings.
Two tunnels, one or none? The question continues to swirl
around plans to perform major surgery on the sickly heart of
California’s water system. Confronted with a shortage of
funding, state officials announced last month that they would
move ahead with the construction of one giant water tunnel
under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta rather than two.
Sacramento County is leading a lawsuit accusing state officials
of holding illegal secret meetings about the controversial
Delta tunnels project. The county, joined by the city of
Stockton, several Delta water agencies and a group of
environmental organizations, sued the State Water Resources
Control Board on Tuesday.
Facing pressure from Gov. Jerry Brown, Southern California’s
largest water agency could vote as soon as April on whether to
take a majority stake in the twin-tunnels project Brown plans
for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
State officials declined again Wednesday to delay a hearing
that could lead to the issuance of a critical permit to build
the governor’s $17 billion Delta tunnels. … A delay at this
point, officials with the State Water Resources Control Board
wrote, “would be both premature and needlessly disruptive.”
Earlier this week, KPCC learned Southern California’s largest
water importer, the Metropolitan Water District, was
considering more than doubling its investment in a plan to
reconfigure how supplies are diverted from one of the region’s
most important sources of water: the Sacramento-San Joaquin
River Delta just east of San Francisco.
More than six years after critics began calling for a full
economic study of the Delta tunnels plan, the Brown
administration released one on Tuesday, finding that the
benefits outweigh the costs — albeit by a slim margin for some
Even a single water tunnel burrowed under the California’s
Delta would be worth it for urban ratepayers and farmers who
would to pay to build and maintain the project, according to an
analysis released Tuesday by Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration.
In a dramatic twist on the Delta tunnels saga, Southern
California’s powerful water agency is exploring the feasibility
of owning the majority stake in the controversial project, a
move that raises fears of a “water grab.”
The state water board held its first hearing Thursday since
Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to move more water efficiently from
Northern California to the south was pared down. … “This is
something we expected,” Jeff Kightlinger, general manager of
MWD, a provider of water to 19 million Southern Californians
and the biggest supporter of WaterFix, said during an interview
Thursday. “But I still think for the greater good, a two-tunnel
project would be better.”
California officials tried to smooth the way for the Delta
tunnels project by slicing it in half. Instead they’re facing
more pushback and the possibility of additional delays. One day
after Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration downsized the
Delta tunnels project, a host of project opponents tried
Thursday to halt a state regulatory hearing that’s crucial to
getting it built.
California water officials announced Wednesday that a plan to
build two giant tunnels for moving water supplies across the
state was being reduced to a single, less costly underpass — at
least initially — a setback for one of Gov. Jerry Brown’s
State officials Wednesday said they will press ahead with a
smaller version of a long-planned water delivery project,
initially building one, instead of two, massive tunnels in the
heart of California’s vast waterworks. The decision to downsize
California WaterFix boils down to money.
State officials declined late Tuesday to further delay key
hearings on the proposed Delta tunnels, overriding opponents’
arguments that illegal meetings have taken place and that the
project soon may be altered anyway. The State Water Resources
Control Board found that the meetings were legal.
During his second governorship, Jerry Brown has frequently
touted big public-works projects as the mark of a great
society—a marked change from his first stint four decades ago,
when “small is beautiful” and “lower your expectations” were
his oft-voiced themes. He did it again last week, effusively
plugging two major public works, twin water tunnels and a
high-speed rail network, during his final State of the State
Months of behind the scenes talks have failed to drum up enough
money to pay the full costs of replumbing the center of
California’s sprawling waterworks with two giant water tunnels.
That has left the state with little choice but to scale down a
roughly $17-billion water delivery project to fit a funding pot
of less than $10 billion.
Time is running out for Gov. Jerry Brown to fix two big legacy
projects. If he doesn’t, his successor might just dump them in
the trash. Brown has only until the end of the year to clean up
and repair his bullet train and water tunnel ventures.
A lengthy Delta tunnels hearing that was set to begin Thursday
instead has been delayed for two weeks as state officials
consider claims that illegal meetings took place between
tunnels proponents and the agency that is supposed to
independently judge the project.
A state agency that is supposed to independently judge the
merits of Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed Delta tunnels has
simultaneously been holding meetings illegally with project
proponents, critics allege in a pair of motions filed this
week. The State Water Resources Control Board on Thursday is
scheduled to resume lengthy public hearings that could result
in a permit that would allow the $17 billion project to move
Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is proposing scaling back his
troubled plans to redo California’s water system, releasing a
new plan that would build only one tunnel to ship water from
Northern California instead of two, and put Southern and
central California water agencies directly in charge of
designing and building it.
California officials have moved closer to scaling back the
troubled Delta tunnels project, officially notifying potential
construction contractors that they’re considering limiting the
project to one tunnel.
Faced with a shortage of money and political support after
seven years of work, Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is
working on a plan to scale back one of his key legacy projects
— a $17 billion proposal to build two massive tunnels under the
Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to make it easier to move
water from Northern California to the south.
Already short of funding, Gov. Jerry Brown’s Delta tunnels
project is being challenged in court by a bloc of San Joaquin
Valley farmers insisting they shouldn’t be forced to help foot
the $17.1 billion price tag. The valley farmers, located
mainly in Kern and Kings counties, voiced their objections in a
Sacramento court filing opposing the Brown administration’s
plan to issue bonds to pay for the tunnels.
State lawmakers opposed to Gov. Jerry Brown’s Delta tunnel plan
are stepping up calls for greater transparency into the
project’s finances, as the proposed water delivery system
suffered a series of setbacks this fall.
A long-awaited study on the costs and benefits of Gov. Jerry
Brown’s Delta tunnels should be finished by next spring, a
state official said Thursday after an independent audit
concluded such a study should have already been done. The
tunnels have been in the planning stage for 11 years, but state
officials have never completed a comprehensive analysis of
whether the project pencils out financially.
A throng of people, nearly 200 strong, came to this delta town
Thursday, many of them wearing work boots and ball caps, blue
jeans and plaid, and all of them hoping to learn something good
about Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to solve California’s water
delivery problems. The folks from the river towns and rural
communities along the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta didn’t
like what they heard about the plan that is being called
It’s been more than half a century since Californians started
talking seriously about building a new conveyance system –
canals or tunnels – to divert water around the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Bay Delta to south Delta pumps for export to farms and
cities in the south.
It sounds like a nice, elegant compromise for a California
water project swamped in uncertainty: If there isn’t enough
money to build two Delta tunnels, why not build just one?
Drastically downsizing Gov. Jerry Brown’s tunnels wouldn’t
merely save money.
California’s ambitious plan to build two giant water tunnels
under the West’s largest estuary has been deemed too expensive
by some of the water utilities that would have to pay for it.
As a result, attention is turning back to a cheaper option: One
tunnel instead of two. … Ironically, it is an option the
state’s top water agencies rejected out of hand a decade ago.
In the Delta region, the twin tunnels always have been
considered double trouble. If you take the “twin” out, you’ve
still got trouble. That’s the view of many local activists as
speculation grows that Gov. Jerry Brown’s two-tunnel water
conveyance project will soon be downsized, whittled down to
perhaps just one tunnel with a smaller capacity.
A new option has entered the discussion of Delta water
supplies: one cross-Delta tunnel instead of two. For now,
California’s WaterFix proposal, pushed by Gov. Jerry Brown, is
for two tunnels under-crossing the Delta for 35 miles, allowing
up to 60 percent of Delta water exports to come from the main
channel of Sacramento River.
After several hours of confusion over the Trump
administration’s position on a massive water delivery project,
the Interior Department said Wednesday it would continue to
work with the state on California WaterFix.
Is the Trump administration opposed to the Delta tunnels, Gov.
Jerry Brown’s plan to remake the troubled estuary and improve
water deliveries to the southern half of the state? For a while
Wednesday, it certainly looked that way.
Bewildering both opponents and supporters of Gov. Jerry Brown’s
plan to build two giant water tunnels under the Sacramento-San
Joaquin River Delta, the Department of Interior late Wednesday
said the Trump administration had not pulled its support for
the project as reported earlier.
Five California Democrats in Congress asked Tuesday for a new
federal review of funding for Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed
tunnel project. Their request follows a federal audit of
Brown’s $16 billion proposal to re-engineer California’s
complex north-south water system by building two giant water
Silicon Valley’s water district Wednesday rejected Gov. Jerry
Brown’s plan to build twin tunnels beneath the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta but said it would support a smaller, less
expensive project. A top state official said the Brown
administration is willing to consider such an approach.
In a landmark vote closely watched across California, Silicon
Valley’s largest water agency on Tuesday rejected Gov. Jerry
Brown’s $17 billion plan to build two giant tunnels under the
Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
In its most far-reaching decision in more than 50 years,
Silicon Valley’s largest water provider will vote Tuesday on
whether to embrace or reject Gov. Jerry Brown’ s $17 billion
plan to build two massive tunnels under the Sacramento-San
Joaquin River Delta.
On Oct. 10, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern
California voted to endorse the Delta tunnels, the $17 billion
project that aims to reboot California’s main water supply
system. Two days later, the Kern County Water Agency offered
its own bid – albeit it a hesitant one – of support.
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein recalls Gov. Jerry Brown pitching
her to support his costly twin-tunnels water plan. He showed
her the environmental analysis and she was shocked. Shocked not
at the contents, but at the documents’ size.
A bloc of San Joaquin farmers tentatively endorsed the Delta
tunnels project Thursday, becoming the first significant
agricultural group to support the struggling plan. But the
level of support from members of the Kern County Water Agency,
which serves much of the $7 billion-a-year farm economy at the
southern end of the valley, was less than wholehearted.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s board
voted to pay for about a quarter of the tunnels project, Gov.
Jerry Brown’s $17.1 billion effort to re-engineer the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and improve water deliveries to
south state cities and farms.
In 1960, the water barons of Los Angeles stood between Gov. Pat
Brown and his dream of building a network of dams and canals to
make the southern half of California bloom. He beat them – just
barely, after weeks of public arm-twisting – and the State
Water Project was born.
On the eve of key votes in San Jose and Los Angeles, Gov. Jerry
Brown’s $17 billion proposal to build two massive tunnels
through the Delta to make it easier to move water from north to
south was hit with another setback Thursday as a state audit
found it was suffering from “significant cost increases and
State officials who have been planning the $17 billion Delta
tunnels for more than a decade failed to determine whether the
project pencils out financially and violated state law by
hiring a high-level consultant who didn’t meet basic
qualifications, according to a state audit released Thursday.
California’s water managers appear to have violated state law
when they hired a consultant to help plan Gov. Jerry Brown’s
$16 billion project to build two massive water tunnels, state
auditors said Thursday.
With two key California WaterFix votes looming, Gov. Jerry
Brown expressed confidence Thursday that water agencies will
commit to enough funding to sustain the massive project. Brown
was in Los Angeles to lobby for the $17-billion proposal, which
would re-engineer the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the hub of
California’s complex waterworks.
The Delta tunnels project was just gaining steam, and a San
Francisco engineering firm had outbid its competitors to win a
$60 million, seven-year state contract to help plan the
project. But officials at the California Department of Water
Resources weren’t happy with a manager that the company, URS
Corp., had assigned to help oversee the planning process.
Dam builders from President Franklin Roosevelt’s administration
wanted to bring water to the parched eastern half of the San
Joaquin Valley, but first they had to deal with a cluster of
landowners whose ancestors had been there since the 1800s. The
deal they cut in 1939 paved the way for much of the Central
Valley Project, an engineering marvel that helped turn the
Valley into one of the world’s most productive farming regions.
The state’s water users will find out soon if they will be
paying for the $17 billion tunnel project called the California
WaterFix. The controversial plan proposes building tunnels
under the Sacramento Delta to secure the supply of water being
Southern California’s mammoth water agency appeared ready to
plow ahead with the Delta tunnels project Tuesday, despite a
“no” vote by a giant bloc of San Joaquin Valley farmers that
could doom the $17 billion proposal.
One day after the largest water district in America pulled out
of a $17 billion state project to build twin tunnels under the
Delta, a water supplier for 220,000 Alameda County residents
supported the plan and said it wants to join in.
In California’s long-raging water wars, pitting north against
south and farmer against city dweller, the one thing everybody
agreed on Wednesday was that the outdated method of shipping
water throughout the most populous state needs a serious
Shellshocked by an influential farm irrigation district’s
refusal to help pay for the Delta tunnels, advocates of the
$17.1 billion project were scrambling Wednesday to salvage it
or conjure up a Plan B. Three possible options were floated by
California water policymakers for reviving the proposal.
By a 7-1 vote, the state’s largest irrigation district decided
not to join California WaterFix — a $17-billion plan to build
two tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta that would
re-engineer the way Northern California supplies are moved to
the rest of the state.
Westlands Water District, whose board of directors is scheduled
to vote Tuesday on whether to help pay for the tunnels, says it
needs to spread the costs among a greater number of water
districts, both north and south of the Delta, to make the
project affordable to the Fresno and Kings county farmers who
get water from Westlands.
Some of the state’s biggest water districts are about to make
their opening moves in a financial chess game that ultimately
could saddle the Southland with much of the bill for
re-engineering the failing heart of California’s water system.
A federal agency left U.S. taxpayers on the hook for $50
million in water project costs that should have been paid by
Central Valley irrigation districts, according to an inspector
general’s report released Friday.
In a potential setback for the controversial Delta tunnels,
federal auditors say $50 million in taxpayer funds were used to
improperly subsidize San Joaquin Valley irrigation districts as
they helped plan the project.
The U.S. Interior Department improperly contributed $85 million
in taxpayer funds to help pay for a giant California water
project backed by Gov. Jerry Brown, despite pledges from Brown
and other state and federal authorities that local water
districts would bear all the costs, a federal audit said
Brett Baker steps off Sutter Island Road and scrambles down the
bank of a levee to the edge of Steamboat Slough. … At Baker’s
feet is a 6-inch-wide steel pipe that carries water from the
slough through the levee and into his family’s century-old pear
The city [Antioch] has challenged the state Department of Water
Resources’ approval of the Twin Tunnels project, alleging that
the city itself will still see more salt in the water it uses
as a drinking supply.
They have one of the most powerful legal weapons found in any
courtroom – the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA.
But environmental groups, local governments and others face an
uphill climb in their fight against the controversial Delta
Sacramento County led a cascade of area governments suing the
state in an effort to block the Delta tunnels, saying the $17
billion project would harm local farmers, endangered fish and
low-income communities at the south end of the county.
As California water agencies prepare to vote next month on
paying for the tunnels, which are supposed to improve water
deliveries to the southern half of the state, the stark
difference between urban and rural water users’ expected costs
illustrates one of the project’s main stumbling blocks.
Decision time is approaching for the agencies that will have to
pick up the nearly $17-billion tab for building two massive
water tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the heart
of the state’s water works.
More than 6 million Southern Californian households could pay
$3 more a month to help cover the costs of Gov. Jerry Brown’s
controversial plan to bore two huge tunnels under the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Grant Davis, general manager of the Sonoma County Water Agency,
was tapped Wednesday by Gov. Jerry Brown as the state’s new
director for the Department of Water Resources, handing a
veteran of North Bay politics and water policy a central role
in Brown’s controversial bid to overhaul California’s water
system with a $17 billion pair of tunnels under Sacramento-San
[U.S. Rep. Jerry] McNerney’s bill comes at a crucial time, as
various government agencies and water districts make a series
of decisions this summer and fall about whether the $17 billion
tunnels project should move forward.
The governor’s proposed Delta tunnels ran into a roomful of
skeptics Monday – an influential group of San Joaquin Valley
farmers who remain unconvinced the controversial project will
deliver the water they need at a price they’re prepared to
In June, two federal agencies gave their blessings to the
controversial project to build two water conveyance tunnels
under California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Environmental
groups promptly sounded the alarm that the state’s
so-named WaterFix project would not, as its backers
claim, solve the matrix of problems plaguing the Delta and the
people and creatures relying on it. … But if not
WaterFix, then what?
A giant Southern California water district that could decide
whether to invest in the Delta tunnels as soon as September has
released the first of three “white papers” which are expected
to address some unresolved issues.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s ambitious plans to build two massive
tunnels, reengineering the hub of California’s water system,
would destroy native fish species already on the brink of
extinction, lawsuits filed Thursday said.
Kicking off what are expected to be years of legal battles, a
coalition of environmental and fishing groups on Thursday filed
the first major lawsuits over California Gov. Jerry Brown’s $17
billion plan to build two massive, 35-mile-long tunnels under
the Delta to make it easier to move water from Northern
California to the south.
The controversial water diversion tunnels proposed in
California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta may be the biggest
waterworks up for review anywhere in the world. And this $17
billion project requires a variety of permits and approvals
before construction can begin. … The State Water
Resources Control Board is the agency charged with issuing the
new diversion permit – essentially a new water right.
Federal wildlife agencies gave the controversial Delta tunnels
a partial approval on Monday, announcing that the $17 billion
project to replumb the dying estuary will not jeopardize
threatened and endangered fish.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and
the National Marine Fisheries Service concluded that
the construction of new diversion points on the Sacramento
River and two massive water tunnels would not jeopardize the
existence of endangered species in the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Delta, which is the hub of California’s waterworks.
The federal regulators evaluating Gov. Jerry Brown’s
decades-old ambitions to re-engineer the water supplies from
California’s largest river are promising a status update
Monday, as Brown’s $16 billion proposal to shunt part of the
Sacramento through two mammoth tunnels awaits a crucial yes or
no from national agencies.
California’s powerful regional water districts are working
alongside Gov. Jerry Brown to take on more responsibility for
designing, building and arranging financing for a $15.7 billion
twin tunnel project that would ship water southward from
Northern California as they push to finally close the deal on
the controversial plan, two officials working closely on the
project told The Associated Press.
California’s ambitious plan to tunnel under the West’s largest
estuary has always had two primary goals: to restore imperiled
native fish and to improve water deliveries to farms and
cities. An early analysis by federal wildlife agencies,
however, indicates the project might make life worse for fish.
California’s ambitious plan to tunnel under the West’s largest
estuary has always had two primary goals: to restore imperiled
native fish and to improve water deliveries to farms and
cities. An early analysis by federal wildlife agencies,
however, indicates the project might make life worse
Proposed changes to a plan that is supposed to guide the Delta
through the 21st century have advocates on red alert, as they
worry that the new language locks in Gov. Jerry Brown’s $15
billion twin tunnels. The revised plan does not explicitly
endorse the California Water Fix, as the tunnels proposal is
Californians are more likely to favor beefing up the state’s
flood control infrastructure than building Gov. Jerry Brown’s
Delta tunnels, according to the latest poll from the Public
Policy Institute of California.
Erin Brockovich parachuted into Stockton one year ago to
condemn the city’s use of a common method to treat the drinking
water. But sitting on a stage before a raucous crowd of 1,200,
in the heart of a region deeply opposed to Gov. Jerry Brown’s
proposed Delta tunnels, the celebrity activist won enthusiastic
applause when she accepted a new challenge.
It isn’t entirely true that [Gov. Jerry] Brown’s new
$179.5-billion budget proposal ignores infrastructure. The
state is moving toward helping to finance probable construction
of a major reservoir called Sites in the Sacramento
Two weeks before President Barack Obama leaves office, his
administration vowed to move full speed ahead on California’s
controversial Delta tunnels project, calling it essential for
the state’s water supply as well as its environment.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to build two giant tunnels to send
Northern California water southward moved a step closer
Thursday to final state and federal decisions, with the state’s
release of a 90,000-page environmental review supporting the
$15.7 billion project.
Saying that his Delta tunnels proposal has been subject to
“more environmental review than any other project in the
history of the world,” Gov. Jerry Brown and his administration
on Thursday released 97,000 pages of final reports.
After years of planning, officials have finalized all 97,000
pages of environmental documents to support Gov. Jerry Brown’s
controversial plan to build two massive tunnels through the
heart of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
It takes a while to get to the point, but an 80,000-page
environmental opus released Thursday makes the case that Gov.
Jerry Brown’s $15.7 billion twin tunnels project is the best
way to fix California’s water woes.
When enemies are in face-to-face combat, they’re often blind to
an obvious path to potential compromise. That’s certainly true
of water warriors, who have been battling over California’s
most valuable and limited resource since statehood. Fights
don’t get any more ferocious than over water in this state.
California voters have rejected Proposition 53, a November
measure to limit the state’s use of revenue bonds to pay for
large public works projects that could have undermined Gov.
Jerry Brown’s proposed twin water tunnels under the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
The governor’s proposed Delta tunnels could worsen toxic algae
blooms like the one that stunk up Stockton’s downtown
waterfront this year, according to testimony last week from an
expert offered by San Joaquin County.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s Delta tunnels could harm the quality of
Stockton’s drinking water to the extent that water rates would
need to be doubled or tripled, a city official testified on
Thursday. … [Bob] Granberg’s brief testimony on Thursday came
as the state board holds extensive hearings to determine if any
water users with legal rights — including Stockton — would be
harmed by the operation of the tunnels.
California Water Fix faces one less obstacle, following voters’
rejection of Proposition 53, which would have required a
statewide vote for any state project financed by more than $2
billion in revenue bonds. It’s unclear how a Donald Trump
presidency will impact the twin tunnels.