If We Had A Water Summit
We would be discussing which ecological disaster is greater, the collapsing of our aquifers or the endangered delta smelt.
Jul 31, 2013
There is a Delta Water Summit this Saturday at Fresno State. It will focus on the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan and the twin tunnels proposed to guarantee a stable water supply to Central and Southern California. Most, or maybe all, of the participants are supporters of the twin tunnels, so it won't really be the debate we all really need to have. People around the Delta and the usual assortment of congressmen oppose what the Summit is all about. We support what the Summit wants in the end, water for the Valley and SoCal, but the difference between them and us is we want it now, not in 25 years. The BDCP looks like a major distraction by the usual suspects to appear as if they're doing something to solve the problem, but in reality they are just postponing, outlasting, draining us dry and putting us out of business. We say this knowing many of our friends on the west side support it. We hope they're still around to enjoy it if and when it gets built.
If you want to know what Valley folks are saying about the BDCP, go to the summit. If you want to know what Delta folks are sayiing, read the article below. They don't sound like they're going to go along to get along. Maybe the powers that be on the west side along with the Metropolitan Water District of SoCal representing 20-million people can overcome the enviros and congressmen who are always in the way, but it will take a long time. It won't start being built until long after Jerry Brown is gone after his second term, and we wonder if the next governor will support it.
If we had a Water Summit we would have speakers and panels discussing ways to get water to the Central Valley right now, using existing infrastructure. We would be discussing which ecological disaster is greater, the collapsing of our aquifers or the endangered delta smelt. Do people realize the enormity of the aquifer disaster being created here in the valley by delta water policies? Why is our ecological disaster not as important as theirs? We would have a panel discussing why Sacramento and other delta cities are allowed to dump a billion gallons of partially treated sewage into the delta, killing plant life and the endangered smelt. We would have a panel asking why Sacramento gets a ten year moratorium to fix their sewage problem, but we can't get a one year pumping moratorium to replenish our aquifers. We would have a panel asking why, if the delta smelt is so precious, why do we restrict the catch limit on stripped bass, a predator fish that feasts on smelt at an enormous yet unknown quantity. We would have a panel asking why some water districts in the Central Valley support the water bond being re-written by Sacramento politicians who are removing all storage proposals.
And our last panel of the day would ask "What will you be doing in 25 years?"
by Gene Beley, special to CVBT
• Says she tells what Jerry Meral won’t
• Will the Delta become the Muck Truck Capital of the World?
Melinda Terry, manager of the North Delta Water Agency and executive director of the Central Valley Flood Control, is using her seat at the Bay Delta Conservation Plan sessions to be a truth fairy.
Out of the 40,000 pages of the BDCP documents, Ms. Terry pulls questions, hammering Jerry Meral, right-hand man to Gov. Jerry Brown in pushing the BDCP and its twin tunnels scheme, with tough questions about the vagueness of most of the statements in those pages.
When she found that the documents said the BDCP would be relying on a 14 percent interest rate on two of the future water bonds, assuming Californians approve the bonds, Ms. Terry found the assumptions laughable.
“Thinking that they will pass is kind of like me saying, ‘I’m going to retire early because I’m going to rely on wining the Powerball this week.’ That’s a nice dream, but I can’t take that to the bank, or quit my job,” she said.
(Video by Gene Beley)
She added she has lost track of the number of times that she has read the words “assumed,” “expected,” “anticipated,” and “potential funding sources” in association with the plan.
David Zippen, vice president of the consulting firm ICF International that is used by BDCP, told Ms. Terry that if the bonds fail, they would turn to alternative funding sources. He agreed with her that the bond money is not guaranteed funding or set aside money, and they based their projections on how other government agencies have obtained some portions of their funding from voter approved measures.
Two weeks prior to the last BDCP meeting, Ms. Terry spoke at a Rio Vista Tea Party meeting. Her speech was entitled “What Jerry Meral Doesn’t Want You to Know.”
In it, she warned Delta residents in the Clarksburg, Courtland, Hood and Rio Vista areas that they could lose their well water for 10 years or more during the construction of Mr. Brown’s massive, $54 billion, 35-mile-long twin water tunnels beneath the heart of the Delta.
She also warned them about the reality of the construction driving eight to 12 pilings a day at various locations with the pounding noise 24 hours a day.
“I lived next to a pile driving construction site at one time. It was incredible noise! We had to leave when it started at 7 a.m. My head was hurting. I was happy to go to work,” she said. “If you’re a winery owner at, say, the Sugar Mill in Clarksburg, will there be weddings? Wine tastings? Again, I remind you that this is for nine or 10 years!”
Ms. Terry urged the citizens to “not to just read about the ground water” in BDCP chapters for personal impacts. “Look at the surface chapter and your land use and your agriculture chapters. They are all related to the fact that you aren’t going to have well water,” she said.
She predicted that during construction, the project would deplete ground water supplies, interfere with ground water recharge, alter local ground water levels, or reduce the production capacity of nearby existing wells.
She added that in some locations, it would have opposite effects.
“Sometimes you are going to get higher ground water elevation, which is then a seepage issue. This impact is caused by the dewatering they need to do in order to build these facilities,” she said. “Dewatering will be occurring all around the perimeter of these facilities. The BDCP recognizes that all the houses in this area get their water form wells. They recognize it, but don’t know how many.
“BDCP has very big consulting firms. I’m sure they’ve built some phenomenal projects in the United States. Unfortunately, they may not have built anything in the Delta. My question to you and my fear is the way I look at the Delta is it is a sponge holding water all the time. When you push down somewhere, say, in a forebay, it pushes out water elsewhere. They will be dewatering, so you won’t have to worry about that problem because you just won’t have any water,” Ms. Terry said.
Back in the 1980s, when Mr. Brown, then in an earlier term as governor, was pushing to build the so-called Peripheral Canal around the Deltas, Ms. Terry recalled the advice she gave them then.
“You’re building a 42-mile-long surface canal that runs southwest with a 35-foot long wall. Rainwater flows east to west and it is going to hit a 35-mile long wall. I asked them how deep they were going on the seepage walls. They had a plan for 35 feet. In most other places, that is probably good,” she said. “When I talked to MBK consulting engineers in Sacramento, a person there told me he thought we needed 90 feet in the Delta. The Army Corp of Engineers said 110 feet. I worry about these things.”
Delta—Future Muck Truck Heaven of the World?
Ms. Terry provided the people in the Rio Vista audience with a lot of statistics if the tunnel construction gets a go-ahead:
(Video by Gene Beley)
• 3,000 acres of prime corn land is slated to be converted from agriculture to industrial complexes for tunnels, forebays and shafts.
• Another 3,000 acres will be muck ponds up to 25 feet high and hold as much as 50-foot-high stacks of muck taken to bore the tunnels.
• Muck will be pulled out at the rate of 7,000 cubic yards per day by truck. Each truck will make about eight trips a day.
• Ms. Terry estimates there will be about 22 million yards of concrete needed for the project.
• The boring machine will run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Thus so do the muck trucks.
• Permanent easements for the tunnels will take approximately 1800 acres.
• Mr. Brown and the Obama administration have ed “Alternative 4” in the plan that switched from 15,000 cubic feet per second of water and five intakes to 9,000 cubic feet per second and three intakes.
• Ms. Terry said the BDCP’s Environmental Impact Review said the tunnels would be 45 miles long rather than 35, and cover nine separate regions. The 45 mile long statement cited by Ms. Terry was verified in the EIR/EIS, Appendix 3C, page 3C-17. However, when Central Valley Business Times asked Mr. Meral at the BDCP meeting, July 17, he denied any change from the 35 miles.
• There will be 18 12-foot in diameter pipelines from the intakes to adjacent pumping plants
• Two-four 16-foot in diameter pipelines between the pumping plants to the tunnels and forebays.
• 29-foot inside diameter tunnel will run three to eight miles from intake No. 2 to the new intermediate forebay.
• Intake No. 2 is now the first intake, Ms. Terry said, showing it on an artist’s drawing.
• There will be two 40-foot diameter and 44-foot on the outside pipes — much larger than originally planned. The pumping plant will be on a gravity basis so they had to make tunnels bigger to make the gravity system work, she said.
• A lot of electrical power lines will be brought into the Delta since the Delta doesn’t have enough power now to support this project. A new power line at Hood to the Clifton Forebay near Tracy will have to be installed. This will require about 500 new power poles and 500 more “temporary” poles for the ten years of construction.
• Eight 45-foot diameter retrieval shafts
• Seven 12-foot intermediate ventilation shafts every three miles along the tunnel alignment. They show up as a dot on the map. Ms. Terry told her audience, pointing to these, “So if you think you’ve escaped being impacted, and think you’re good, you may not be.”
• Six barges will be uses because not all equipment can be trucked in by road. Thus there will be barge docks that would be 300 feet long by 50 feet wide built at various locations in the Delta. They will be located by Highway 160 west of Walnut Grove on Tyler Island, Bacon Island, Woodward Island, Victoria Island, and Venice Island.
• Habitat physical impacts will cover 29,000 acres and include 5,000 acres on Cache Slough, Barker Slough, Lattice Channel, Lindsey Slough, Cross Slough, Sacramento Deep Water Channel, and Minor Slough.
• Approximately 20,000 acres of the Yolo Bypass will be inundated with shallow water, roughly two and a half feet deep for 30-75 days of the year between November and May.
When asked by a person in the audience how the BDCP would mitigate the extensive dewatering and loss of their wells for homes and farms, Ms. Terry told them that replacement water supplies may not meet the preexisting demands or planned land use demands of the affected parties.
“I refer to this as a ‘Sorry, Charlie!’,” she said.
She cautioned the audience “No matter what the problem is, Dr. Meral will tell you, ‘We can design our way around this. Don’t worry.’”
(Video by Gene Beley)
“My concern,” she continued, “is as good as the issues are that Jerry is bringing up, is that some of you in that situation will be like someone on the Titanic. You’re only seeing 10 percent of the iceberg above the water. If you had not read any of these 40,000 pages, you have not seen the 90 percent of what’s beneath the water that will put you out of business even if you do negotiate with him on the other 10 percent,” Ms. Terry said. “I would caution all of you in this situation not to negotiate too early. As these documents progress, you’ll learn more about them.”
She promised another citizen meeting on just the subject of mitigation.
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