Twin Tunnels Delta Project Environmental Study Challenged in at Least 14 Lawsuits

August 23, 2017 8:00 am · 28 comments

Several dozen local governments and conservation groups have filed at least 14 Superior Court lawsuits to challenge the state’s environmental review of its plan to build two tunnels to divert water from the Delta.

The project by the administration of Gov. Jerry Brown is commonly known as the Twin Tunnels and officially as California WaterFix.

It would consist of two 35-mile long tunnels, each 40 feet in diameter, to take water from the north Delta area southward to existing pumping stations near Byron in eastern Contra Costa County. From there the water would be sent to the Central Valley and Southern California.

The lawsuits claim an environmental impact report approved by the California Department of Water Resources on July 21 doesn’t adequately evaluate the effects on water quality, Delta farms, wildlife and fish including salmon.

“Like many other Bay Delta stakeholders, we have identified major flaws with the WaterFix proposal, significant impacts to water quality and the ecosystem, and continue to urge consideration of other more viable
alternatives,” Contra Costa Supervisor Karen Mitchoff said in a statement.

Solano County Supervisor Skip Thomas said, “The tunnels project threatens the Delta’s water quality and agricultural heritage, but the lead agencies have still not fully disclosed or mitigated the project’s significant, negative impacts on Solano County and the Delta region.”

Contra Costa and Solano counties were among a coalition of eight local governments that filed a Sacramento County Superior Court lawsuit on Monday.

Other participants were Yolo and San Joaquin counties, the Contra Costa County Water Agency, Central Delta Water Agency, South Delta Water Agency and Local Agencies of the North Delta.

Monday was the deadline for filing challenges to the environmental impact report.

Another lawsuit was filed in Sacramento Monday by 11 environmental groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, Restore the Delta and Sierra Club California.

That lawsuit claims the EIR is “replete with omitted facts and inaccurate evidence presented in a manner that is confusing and misleading to the public.”

Most of the lawsuits filed during the past month were lodged in Sacramento County Superior Court, including one filed by the city of Antioch on Aug. 17 and one by the city of Brentwood on Aug. 18.

The East Bay Municipal Utility District, however, filed its lawsuit in Alameda County Superior Court on Aug. 18.

It claims, “The project’s construction and operation threaten significant adverse impacts to the safety and security of the water supply for 1.4 million people served by EBMUD” and that the EIR “glossed over” those

The lawsuits ask for a court order requiring the department to set aside its approval of the EIR, prepare a new EIR and halt work on the project until an adequate EIR is approved.

Environmental impact reports are required under the California Environmental Quality Act for the purpose of informing the public about the significant environmental impacts of a project and setting forth feasible mitigation measures.

Water Resources Department spokesman Sam Chiu said the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

At the time the EIR was approved last month, department Acting Director Cindy Messer called the action “an important benchmark in moving California towards a more reliable water supply” for 25 million people and 3
million acres of farmland.

The department said the project will enable it to balance the needs for water supply and environmental protection better by providing more flexibility in adjusting the amount of water diversion to the amount of water flow at a given time.

The department said construction could begin as early as 2018.

Osha Meserve, a lawyer in the case filed by local governments on Monday, said she expects the next step in the case to be proceedings to have all the cases coordinated in the same court, most likely Sacramento County Superior Court.

Those initial proceedings could take several months, she said.

Silva August 23, 2017 at 8:05 AM

Kill the tunnels.

Fred August 23, 2017 at 8:06 AM

Isn’t this just the old rejected peripheral canal, only with tunnels?

T.Payne August 23, 2017 at 8:30 AM

#2 – yes it is, same project new name, same gov. Moonbeam.

Bob August 23, 2017 at 8:37 AM

Are the tunnels only 35 feet long?

primo August 23, 2017 at 8:48 AM

just take all cap and trade $$ which then cancels this and the bullet train and return to middle class and senior taxpayers.

Just protect my life, liberty and property please. August 23, 2017 at 8:55 AM

35 foot long tunnels don’t sound so bad as listed in this article, but 35 mile one sure do.

Officer Barbrady August 23, 2017 at 9:08 AM

What’s the problem ? Story says tunnels are only 35 feet long.

It makes sense to me August 23, 2017 at 10:12 AM

Is the Bullet train going to use the tunnels too ?

Silva August 23, 2017 at 10:30 AM

Fred #2, Moonbeam’s second attack on our Delta.

foonman August 23, 2017 at 10:34 AM

Take the millions from the bullet train and build a de-salt plant for ocean water. As the oceans are going to rise, two chickens with one rock….genius.

Just a Person August 23, 2017 at 10:51 AM

This is bad news for the environment, Brown needs to go

Lou August 23, 2017 at 11:20 AM
Justifiable anger August 23, 2017 at 11:35 AM

What is the water needed for? Golf courses and swimming pools in the desert? California is one of the top agricultural areas of the world, shouldn’t this precious resource be used for food? This should be a concern considering how our nations population was artificially increased by millions in an unnatural time span.

In Concord alone, our politicians plan to house 30,000 more. Won’t they need water, sewers and food? Not to mention the flora and fauna of the area.

I hate to keep repeating this theme but our politicians and city managers keep ignoring the logic. Am I wrong to assume a monetary payoff is involved with this erroneous thinking?

Nick August 23, 2017 at 1:13 PM

The time to build these tunnels would have been 70 years ago. Our society has become too environmentally sensitive and litigious to allow a project like this to come to fruition these days.

Sacto Rob August 23, 2017 at 3:41 PM

Here’s a different take: the Delta is dying, make no mistake about it. 25 million people depend on the water drawn from the Delta and shipped to Central and Southern CA, and that’s not going to stop. Properly managed, a conveyance system (tunnels, canal, whatever) will enable the existing water shipments to occur without the damaging backflows that are currently causing damage to the Delta’s ecosystem. I think the tunnels are a ridiculously expensive option and a canal makes much more sense, but pretending there’s no problem and stopping the construction of some sort of conveyance is a death sentence for the Delta. And no, just because we live in the northern half of the state doesn’t make it “our” water.

WhoMe? August 23, 2017 at 3:57 PM

Justifiable anger/@14

2/3 of the state of California watershed drainage goes in to the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta. More than 80% of the water exported from the Delta is used for Ag.

Most of that ag is large corporate subsidized farms growing crops for export. Less than 20% is used for cities, golf courses, etc.

They’re raping the Delta – with Moonbean having the support of Diane Feinstein (via Resnick’s money to prop her up) – against the will of the California voters. Raping the Delta for cotton, rice, almonds, and other products for export out of the country. They’re sacrificing our Delta, turning it in to profits for large Ag.


WhoMe? August 23, 2017 at 3:58 PM
WhoMe? August 23, 2017 at 4:00 PM
Jojo Potato August 23, 2017 at 4:57 PM

That’s 35 miles you morons. No wonder there’s no rational discussion with these lies being thrown around.

slagheap August 23, 2017 at 7:31 PM

hey, #15, sacto rob…you are completely wrong, uninformed, mistaken, spreading misinformation. if the delta is dying it’s due, among other things, to incompetence on the part of CA DWR, including the grossly negligent operation of the tracy pumping station, beginning under lester snow. you need to acquaint yourself with the scale of this proposed new twin tunnel peripheral canal before you sound off about what’s good for the estuary. i am a party to one of the lawsuits.

Original G August 23, 2017 at 10:10 PM

“California’s plan to build tunnels and siphon huge amounts of water from the delta will jack up costs for water users, including 3 million Bay Area residents, but farmers will be hit the hardest, according to a financial analysis released Friday.

The report, by state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, says costs could double for some water customers if the Bay Delta Conservation Plan goes through, but it concludes that the overall $25 billion price tag is “within the range of urban and agricultural users’ capacity to pay.” ”

Original G August 23, 2017 at 10:20 PM

Think for a minute, would you trust these people to build just half a bridge on time and on budget???

“This bridge came in $5 billion over budget, a full 10 years late, and riddled with safety issues such as broken rods and faulty welds. In 2013, dozens of the long metal rods on the project snapped. When apprised of these problems, California governor Jerry Brown, a former presidential candidate, famously said, “I mean, look, sh*t happens.”

OriginalDog August 24, 2017 at 5:59 AM

This is a “water fix” alright … for Southern California.

Uptonogood August 24, 2017 at 6:18 AM

But the DWR NEVER makes mistakes (except of course for it’s failure to armor the emergency spillway at Oroville Dam)! It was advised in 1998 that the spillway could erode and cause major downstream problems but DWR said, “Oh, it’s okay. The spillway will never be needed.” The concern was restated in 2006 and the response was the same. The engineering bosses at FERC supported DWR . Eat crow DWR and FERC! Dump the Twin Tunnels (read: Peripheral Canal) proposal.

George August 24, 2017 at 7:05 AM

This state can’t build a bridge on time/within budget. This state can’t maintain (or conbstruct properly) a dam?. This state’s “bullet train” (to nowhere) is already 50% over budget and behind schedule, and is expected to be ~7 years behind schedule. Now the politicians are adding a $0.12/gallon tax on gas for “infrastructure?”

What makes you think they can do ANYTHING within budget/on schedule?

Bunch of lying politicians, all elected by a bunch of non-think/low-information voters who just want free stuff. They only thing they know how to do is get re-elected.

Hey, you got what you “paid for.”

Silva August 24, 2017 at 8:59 AM

Save the Delta from becoming a giant cesspool. Protect the water quality in our homes. Protect our quality of life. Kill the tunnels.

Mimi (original) August 24, 2017 at 9:44 AM

Thank goodness for the environmentalists!! Save our State!

Justifiable anger August 24, 2017 at 10:21 AM

Thank you WhoMe.

Water and Power: A California Heist. Available on Amazon, Youtube, Vudu, GooglePlay and iTune. Not with Netflix at this time.

“In California’s convoluted water system, water barons find ways to structure a state-engineered system to their own advantage. This examination shows how small farmers and everyday citizens are facing the drought and a new, debilitating water crisis.”

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