California Governor Jerry Brown is expected to announce this month his plans to build a massive and hugely costly facility to divert water from California's San Francisco Bay Delta to municipalities and agricultural users. In the words of Congressman John Garamendi (CA), "The BDCP (Bay Delta Conservation Plan) process is heading toward the creation of a massive water diversion facility that could destroy the entire Delta".
This diversion project could cost as much as $20 billion and put species like Central Valley salmon at real risk of extinction. State and federal wildlife agencies opposed a larger plan that had a pumping capacity of 15,000 cfs. This plan, with a beginning 9,000 cfs pumping capacity, and potential expansion to 15,000 cfs has not been evaluated--a major reason for not moving forward too quickly.
Over the past 5 years water contractors have led a process to try to capture and divert increased amounts of the estuary’s water for use by cities and agriculture. Scientific analysis has shown this is inappropriate, and the estuary needs more water to support its fish and wildlife, as well as the farming and cities of the Delta itself. State and federal wildlife agencies have been clear in pointing out deficiencies in the current plan. The state legislature has mandated that the process find a balanced solution between water reliability and environmental recovery, while recognizing that the Delta and its communities must be allowed to thrive. It is clear that a balanced solution means reduced reliance on the S.F. Bay-Delta for water.
A major part of the current plan includes the installation of a massive water diversion facility on the Sacramento River, costing $14-20 billion. The Governor recently announced that he will propose building this structure, with a 9,000 cubic foot pumping capacity, but a 15,000 cubic foot diversion capacity. I call on all of you to rethink this decision and look more closely at other alternatives. Modifying the current through-Delta process to be more protective of fish and wildlife has never been analyzed. There are good alternatives available that could protect fish and wildlife, protect against sea-level rise and seismic risk, and maintain water quality for the Delta communities. They need to be thoroughly analyzed!
I recognize these decisions are difficult, and much depends on "getting it right." The current plan simply has too much cost and risk - to fish and to the Delta communities. A solution is very possible with through-Delta conveyance if done correctly, and its costs would be much lower. Developing a plan that reduces reliance on the S.F. Bay-Delta for water, develops alternative water supply strategies, and uses the Delta for water conveyance is the right direction today. I ask you to stop the decision process now, and wait until a thorough evaluation is completed.
Thank you for your consideration.