CSPA Protests Water Right Petition for Proposed Delta Tunnel

CSPA, AquAlliance, and the San Joaquin Audubon Society filed a protest on May 13, 2024 opposing the Department of Water Resources’ (DWR’s) petition to change its water rights.  The change in water rights would allow DWR to construct and operate a proposed tunnel under the eastern side of the Sacramento – San Joaquin Delta estuary.

If constructed and operated, the tunnel would divert and move massive amounts of Sacramento River water to the San Joaquin Valley and southern California each year.

The tunnel would harm fish, birds, and land animals.  It would worsen water quality in the Delta and San Francisco Bay.

DWR proposes to keep the existing weak standards that have failed to protect fisheries and water quality.  In addition, DWR proposes to establish new weak standards specifically to govern the tunnel’s operation.  DWR also plans to put more power in the hands of the people who have devastated the Delta ecosystem, and to allow them to weaken standards even further in the future.

The protest states: “The exorbitant costs of the Delta tunnel make the program feasible only if it funded by taxpayer money, thus making the public finance the further degradation of public trust resources …”

The protest concludes, in part:

“Compatibility of Delta export operations with protection of the Bay-Delta ecosystem … is ultimately dependent on reduction of the annual volume of Delta exports. … Development of alternative means to achieve water supply reliability begins with reduction of the existing unreasonable and unsustainable uses of water in the southern two thirds of California.  … The State Water Board should deny the Petition.”

State Water Board hearings on the proposed Delta tunnel will likely begin in early 2025.  The hearings are likely to last at least a year.

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