Meanwhile, a different group of NGOs, namely Friends of the River, the Environmental Water Caucus, Restore the Delta, the California Water Impact Network, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, and other organizations too numerous to mention have written a letter to the federal fish agencies, Bureau of Reclamation, the US EPA and the California Resources Agency alleging that there is a fundamental inaccuracy in the BDCP:
“The reduction in the number of intakes is an obvious subterfuge intended to make the proposed project look smaller in response to federal agency concerns even though the ultimate 15,000 cfs carrying capacity of the Tunnels is preserved. In fact, the two Tunnels have actually been increased in diameter from 33 feet to 40 feet. Consequently, the Delta Water Tunnels project has not been downsized at all. … By this same subterfuge, the BDCP process unlawfully segments, piecemeals and chops up the project into different phases by seeking approval now based on intake capacity when the intent is to actually operate in the future at the capacity of the Tunnels. That also violates the ESA, NEPA, and CEQA.”
The groups say the agencies must ensure that the next draft of the EIR completely describes and discloses the true capacity of the tunnels.
They also point out that because the tunnels are larger, there are increased costs, such as increased ‘tunnel muck’ disposal expenses, and these costs are subject to costly overruns:
“In physical size, complexity, and cost, the Tunnels greatly exceed the intakes in magnitude. Given the massive size and length of the Tunnels, construction process of many years, massive costs in comparison to cost for the intakes, and complexities including disposal and treatment of the Tunnel muck and dewatering for Tunnel construction, the only reasonable conclusion is that the intent of the contractors who would pay for the construction of the Tunnels, is to operate the project at the capacity of the Tunnels. Enormous additional costs result from building Tunnels to a greater size than would be used. Thus accepting the subterfuge that the project has been significantly downsized as a basis for ESA, NEPA, and CEQA analysis would constitute a clear failure to proceed in the manner required by law. Making the project look smaller is quite different from actually making the project smaller.”
Read the full text of the letter here: 8_13_13_final_fed_agency_comment_ltrf