Deep Water Ship Channel, West Sacramento; Photo by DWR

DELTA CONVEYANCE PROJECT: Why not a western alignment?

Congressman Garamendi pushes for consideration of a western alignment for Delta conveyance; DWR responds

In his scoping comments for the Notice of Preparation for the reformulated Delta Conveyance Project, Congressman John Garamendi expresses his disappointment that the State is not considering a potential western alignment for the tunnel.  In his view, a western alignment could be less expensive and would certainly avoid impacts to the Delta’s historic communities, the ecosystem, and productive agricultural land.

In a letter to Newsom in February and submitted with his comments, Congressman Garamendi outlined the components:

    • A western route would utilize the Port of West Sacramento and the Deep Water Ship Channel as the intake for the water; a fish-screen and low-head pump would need to be installed at the existing lock on the Sacramento River to allow water to flow into the port and channel.
    • At the southern end of the ship channel near Rio Vista, another lock would be constructed to separate the Sacramento River water in the channel from the water and species in the Delta.
    • A pressurized pipeline of between 3,000 to 4,000 cfs would take water from north of the ship lock and carry it to three new reservoirs on Bacon Island, Holland Tract, and Webb Tract in the Central Delta, which are already owned by Metropolitan Water District and could be permitted for water storage.
    • Alternatively, the pipeline could be located along the eastside of the Old River channel to the south Delta pumps.

Congressman Garamendi asserts that any honest planning process under CEQA demands that state agencies evaluate all potentially feasible routes.

If your Department refuses to do this, then you owe the Delta residents and the people of California an explanation in writing,” he writes.  “You must explain when the decision was made not to consider the western route, by whom, and why.  To my knowledge, no such explanation has been provided by the state to date.”

In the Department of Water Resources’ response to Congressman Garamendi dated March 27, Carrie Buckman, Environmental Program Manager for Delta Conveyance, references an upcoming meeting with Congressman Garamendi to discuss the issue, and provides a power point which summarizes the findings of a western corridor.

A tanker ship traversing it’s way through the California Delta; photo by Paul Hames / DWR

Those findings include:

    • A fish screen of adequate length would extend the screen into the main channel; an in-channel screen would require fish capture and handling, which is not optimum for species.
    • The West Sacramento City Manager cited inconsistencies with the city’s general plan, and noted construction impacts of building the fish screen and pump station in the area which includes six schools and other sensitive receptors.
    • The levees along the Deep Water Ship Channel would have to be raised.
    • The US Army Corps has determined that the sediment in Deep Water Ship Channel is contaminated and therefore would require dredging or capping to protect water supply.
    • A lock at the lower reach of the Deep Water Ship Channel would block access to Cache Slough for spawning and rearing Delta Smelt, and it’s doubtful that regulatory permits could be secured for a lock in that location.
    • To locate the lock out of the range of ecosystem impacts, it would need to be constructed 10-14 miles north, which then is nearly lateral to the location of the proposed intakes in the Notice of Preparation.
    • Impacts to operations of the Freeport Regional Water Authority Project and the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District facilities.

View/download power point below:

Garamendi Presentation_30_Mar-20_508

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