Environmental groups call for governor to abandon Bay Delta Conservation Plan

1/13/14 by the Santa Clarita Valley Signal.

SANTA CLARITA – A coalition of environmentalists called Monday for Gov. Jerry Brown to abandon his support for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan and instead invest in sustainable water projects.

During a telephone news conference with reporters, a spokeswoman for Restore The Delta called for Brown to use $70 billion for sustainable water solutions instead of underwriting the Bay Delta plan, which is supported by most water purveyors.

The Bay Delta plan seeks to upgrade the state’s current system of levees that transport water through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta with two 30-mile underground tunnels to ensure stable water delivery from Northern to Southern California.

The tunnels would have the capacity to move 9,000 cubic feet per second of water. Construction is expected to begin in 2017.

Critics of the current water-conveyance system say it mixes salt water with fresh in the Delta and is subject to failure in the event of an earthquake.

Opponents to the plan said during the news conference the tunnels are a waste of money.

“In drought years, the state will not provide one more drop of water when California needs water the most,” said Jonas Minton, representing the Planning & Conservation League. “The better thing to do is invest state money wisely in projects that actually produce new water.”

Southern California water agencies in particular need the Bay Delta project built, said Dan Masnada, general manager for the Castaic Lake Water Agency. The agency provides about 50 percent of the Santa Clarita Valley’s water, which arrives in the area through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

“The Bay Delta Conservation Plan is part of an overall solution to address the needs of 50 million Californians by 2050,” Masnada said Monday.

“The statement that the tunnels will not add one drop of water to California’s water supply is technically correct,” he said. “However, it was never about adding a drop of water to the existing water supply, other than enhancing its reliability by being able to move it when Mother Nature makes it available and being able to use and store it without the environmental, regulatory and infrastructure constraints associated with Delta conveyance.”

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