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San Diego Taking the Bait!

It looks to us like environmentalists have come to the conclusion that some form of the BDCP is going to happen.

Jan 18, 2013

Environmental organizations and some water agencies are proposing an alternative to the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) tunnels that are being supported by Governor Brown. They are calling for a scaled-down version of the current BDCP. The coaliton is composed of The Bay Institute, the Contra Costa Council, Defenders of Wildlife, Environmental Entrepreneurs, the Planning and Conservation League and the Natural Resources Defense Council. It also includes several water agencies including the San Diego County Water Authority, Alameda County Water District, Contra Costa Water District, East Bay Municipal Utility District, Otay Water District, the City of San Diego and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. The list doesn't include anyone in the Central Valley and also leaves out the mammoth Metropolitan Water District. MWD has been on board with the current BDCP since the beginning.

It looks to us like environmentalists have come to the conclusion that some form of the BDCP is going to happen. They've done all they can to stop it, but apparently don't think they can. They are going to Plan B. Plan B, in our opinion, is to cut the Central Valley out of the equation. There are 20-million voters in SoCal and they can't be ignored, and environmentalists know it. But, maybe the Valley can be ignored. This plan calls for a smaller tunnel system able to convey only 1/3 the water, but still able to service SoCal. The San Diego County Water Authority, the City of San Diego and the Otay Water District (just outside San Diego) are the only SoCal agencies to bite so far, but stay tuned. 

Filner urges Brown to scale back water project

He joins SDCWA, environmentalists in offering alternative

Sacramento — Mayor Bob Filner and San Diego County water officials have joined a statewide coalition in urging Gov. Jerry Brown to shrink the size, price tag and environmental costs of a proposed underground project designed to deliver more supplies to Southern California.

Instead, they are promoting what they describe as a “portfolio approach” that includes a more modest north-to-south delivery network, additional storage, increases in regional supplies and aggressive environmental restoration programs.

The overall price tag would be between $14 billion and $16 billion and provide as much as 5.5 million acre-feet of water, or enough for 11 million average households a year.

“This alternative promises to reduce the cost of importing water to San Diego and instead will make billions of dollars of state funding available to support local water supply development in cities throughout California and right here in San Diego,” Filner said in his State of the City address Tuesday.

In July, Brown and outgoing U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, among others, endorsed in concept 37-mile long twin tunnels to bring water from north to south. Environmental restoration and storage would run billions more.

The cornerstone of the alternative proposal would be a smaller, single-tunnel to take water under the environmentally and economically valuable Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

“Such a facility would also realize significant financial savings in comparison with a larger conveyance facility, face fewer legal and political challenges, and potentially be completed sooner,” said a letter signed by Filner, San Diego County Water Authority General Manager Maureen Stapleton, Otay Water District General Manager Mark Watton and other officials across the state.

However, the Metropolitan Water District, Southern California’s largest and most powerful water agency, has not signed on.

Bob Muir, a Metropolitan spokesman, said the district has spent $50 million on various studies related to the delta and an alternative delivery system.

“It’s a little late in the game to reintroduce concepts that have already been explored,” he said.

Muir said Metropolitan will wait until after the full environmental studies are released this spring before determining which, if any, project to support.

Brown is expected to address water supply issues, including his twin tunnels and a separate $11 billion bond, during his State of the State address Jan. 24.

Filner and the coalition, which includes environmental groups as well as leaders of many large urban water agencies, wants Brown’s Resources Agency to compare the advantages of their proposal to Brown’s in the comprehensive “Bay Delta Conservation Plan” environmental review.

“What distinguishes this proposal from the others is it is a portfolio-based approach,” Dennis Cushman, assistant general manager of the county water authority, said in an interview.

Richard Stapler, a spokesman for the California Resources Agency, said the Brown administration welcomes alternative proposals as part of an ongoing evaluation of the state’s water supply challenges. The review of the tunnel proposal is due out this spring. A smaller tunnel is one of the alternatives being studied.

Brown’s 37-mile twin tunnel project would move water from north-to-south by ducking beneath the delta to avoid fish-killing pumps and other harm to a 2,100 mile maze of waterways that is the hub of two-thirds of the state’s drinking water, from the Silicon Valley to San Diego.

“This is all about the future,” said Brown, when unveiling the plan last July.

San Diego County water officials have long pushed for a solution to the perennial woes in the delta, which supplies the region with about a third of its annual needs depending on the year.

Staff writer Craig Gustafson contributed to this report.

Coalition Calls for Portfolio-Based Alternative to be Analyzed in BDCP

 

Submitted by Lisa Lien-Mager

A coalition of environmental and business groups called on state and federal officials today to consider a portfolio-based approach as a stand-alone alternative in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan process.

In a letter to U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and California Natural Resources Secretary John Laird and other officials, the coalition said the conceptual alternative offers a more effective and affordable package of solutions to address the complex water challenges facing the Delta.

Coalition members include The Bay Institute, the Contra Costa Council, Defenders of Wildlife, Environmental Entrepreneurs, the Planning and Conservation League and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Separately, seven urban water agencies, including the San Diego County Water Authority, Alameda County Water District, Contra Costa Water District, East Bay Municipal Utility District, Otay Water District, the City of San Diego and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, sent a letter to Salazar and Laird asking that the conceptual alternative be thoroughly studied as a stand-alone alternative in the environmental review process for the BDCP.

The portfolio-based proposal calls for a scaled-down conveyance facility and additional, complementary investments in local water supply sources, regional coordination, south of Delta storage, levee improvements, and habitat restoration. The total price tag would be similar to or smaller than estimates for a large-scale conveyance system, according to the water agencies’ letter.

“A portfolio approach could produce superior benefits at a similar or lower cost to water users and the public, and at reduced levels of environmental impacts,” the water agencies wrote. “It has the potential to be consistent with the best available science and, as a result, may be more readily permittable and capable of delivering benefits more rapidly. It would appear that a solid business case can be made for such an alternative; in any event, the business case must be made before any project proceeds.”

The portfolio alternative calls for:

  • Increased water exports from the Bay-Delta in wet years and smaller water exports in dry years.
  • A North Delta diversion facility and tunnel for 3,000 cubic feet of water per second (as opposed to 9,000 cfs in the current plan)
  • Major statewide investments in water recycling, urban conservation, groundwater cleanup, capturing storm water and other local water supply development.
  • Improved physical connections between water agencies in the Bay Area, Central Valley and Southern California to aid the movement of water and to use infrastructure more efficiently.
  • New surface and/or groundwater storage south of the delta for storing wet-year deliveries for use in subsequent dry years.
  • Levee upgrades to protect people and infrastructure in the delta.
  • Delta floodplain and tidal marsh restoration on approximately 40,000 acres.

Links

Portfolio-Based Bay Delta Conservation Plan Conceptual Alternative

Conceptual Alternative Cover Letter, Jan. 16, 2013

Urban Agency Letter, Jan. 16, 2013

Bay Delta Conservation Plan
 


 

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