“It is time finally for the Department of Water Resources (DWR) to develop and consider the required range of reasonable alternatives to a Tunnel project,” the letter states.
Heartened by the change in administrations, conservation groups this week sent a letter to Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot and Cal EPA Secretary Jared Blumenfeld outlining what they see as the key issues with California Water Fix (aka the Delta tunnels). The letter asserts that previous administrations have not evaluated the range of alternatives as required under CEQA and seeks to advise the new administration as Governor Newsom considers changes to the controversial project.
The letter summarizes the key issues as follows: “First, it is time finally for the Department of Water Resources (DWR) to develop and consider the required range of reasonable alternatives to a Tunnel project. Second, the new reality is that the federal government is now committed to maximizing exports regardless of the consequences for the Delta making a Tunnel project a grave danger to the Delta. Third, an honest statewide benefit-cost analysis must be prepared on any proposed Water Tunnel project. Fourth, a subsequent EIR must be prepared on the changed project and circulated for public review and comment pursuant to CEQA. And, fifth, it is time to ensure that environmental justice communities are included in water decision-making.”
The letter was signed by Friends of the River, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, Restore the Delta, the Environmental Water Caucus, the Center for Biological Diversity, California Water Impact Network, AquAlliance, Sierra Club, and the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water.
The letter concludes, “No matter what you have been told, from the time the BDCP/WaterFix process started two administrations ago, your predecessors have never actually considered or presented any true alternatives. It is time to finally embrace the Delta Reform Act and “begin with a true accounting of water availability within the Delta watershed to determine how much water could be safely exported from the estuary.” It is time to finally develop and present for public review and comment the required range of reasonable alternatives including ones that would increase freshwater flows through the Delta by reducing exports. A Water Tunnel alternative should be evaluated in a fair and open comparative process with other alternatives, including ones that would increase freshwater flows by reducing exports.”