(Discovery Bay, California) — Save the California Delta Alliance announced today that it will file litigation to challenge the certification of the Final Environmental Impact Report for Governor Brown’s twin tunnel project. The Notice of Determination for the tunnel project, certifying the EIR and announcing the decision to go forward with the tunnel project was released by the California Department of Water Resources today.
The tunnel project, formally known as California WaterFix, proposes two tunnels, each 40 feet in diameter and buried 150 feet below the Delta’s islands and sloughs. The tunnels would draw water from the Sacramento River near Hood (about 20 miles south of Sacramento) and deliver the water directly to canals near Tracy that carry Delta water south to Central Valley farms and Southern California Cities.
“These tunnels would deprive the Delta of its fresh water source and suspend the Delta in a chronic state of drought,” said Save the California Delta Alliance member Frank Morgan. “Not only that, but construction of the tunnels would take eleven years or more and with all the noise, vibration, and blockage of waterways, we will lose a significant amount of our recreational business,” Morgan added. Captain Morgan operates Captain Morgan’s Delta Adventures, based in Discovery Bay and offering boat tours throughout the Delta.
Save the California Delta Alliance member and manager of Bullfrog Marina, Carl Wenske, said “the tunnel construction route runs under Bacon Island right across the river from us and there is a geotechnical exploration site just north of us that will block passage of Middle River.” Bullfrog Marina is popular with Discovery Bay boaters because of easy access to its gas dock.
Wenske and the marina’s mascot, a brown Labrador Retriever named Bear, are well known throughout the Delta. “We can’t survive without gas sales and if boaters can’t reach our docks because of tunnel construction, that will be the end of Bullfrog,” concluded Wenske. The Marina has been in business for 78 years.
Perhaps one of the most troubling aspects of the tunnel project is its effect on the toxic algae problem in the Delta. Delta Alliance submitted scientific reports indicating that the tunnels will worsen the problem. “This problem will be particularly acute in Discovery Bay which has experienced some microcystis blooms, that will be made much worse by CWF,” wrote Delta Alliance. Microcystis is the scientific name for the toxic algae.
The tunnel project has been in the planning stages for 11 years and has numerous governmental approvals ahead of it before construction could begin. “It isn’t too late, we can and we will win this fight,” said Save the California Delta Alliance attorney Michael Brodsky.
Save the California Alliance members from Discovery Bay at a recent anti-tunnels rally
So far, the group has a 100% success rate in its litigation against the tunnels, winning a preliminary battle in a lawsuit against the Delta Stewardship Council in 2016. Judge Michael Kenny of Sacramento Superior Court sided with the Discovery Bay group and found the Delta Plan invalid. Changes sought by the lawsuit will make approval of the tunnels more difficult.
“The first lawsuit was a warm up, the main event is now,” said Brodsky.
“We have 30 days to file our suit challenging the EIR and 60 days to file our suit challenging the financing plan for the tunnels,” said Brodsky, noting that the Environmental Impact Report has been roundly criticized as inadequate.
In a 2015 review of the then draft EIR, the Delta Independent Science Board concluded that the EIR “fails to inform weighty decisions about public policy.” The normally stolid scientists called the lack of information appalling.
The science board chided the California WaterFix’s promises that the EIR would be improved late in the process. That “will be far too late in the EIR/EIS process for content so critical to comprehending what is being proposed and its potential impacts,” the board wrote. “They have fiddled around the edges since then, but the document is still fatally flawed,” said Brodsky.
Construction of the tunnels would be accomplished by enormous tunnel boring machines lowered to subterranean depths through access shafts excavated throughout the Delta. The earth removed from the tunnel bores and access shafts would be dumped on Delta Islands.
The EIR states that 30,000,000 cubic yards of “reusable tunnel material” would be dumped in the Delta. 30,000,000 cubic yards would cover a football field and reach as tall as Mount Shasta.
“They used to call it tunnel muck but they changed the name somewhere along the line for PR purposes,” said local real estate agent Mike Guzzardo, who has been battling the tunnels since 2010. “Our community is not a dumping ground and we are going to keep fighting until we stop the tunnels,” Guzzardo promised.
Guzzardo noted that Save the California Delta Alliance will hold an information fair at Bullfrog Marina on Saturday July 29 from 1 pm to 5 pm. Delta boaters are invited to attend and join the fight. For more information on the tunnels, Guzzardo directed the public to the group’s website, http://www.nodeltatunnels.com.
Michael Brodsky: 510-387-0287
Frank Morgan: 925-383-5346
Mike Guzzardo: 925-864-5757
Carl Wenske: 209-465-9610
The WaterFix Website (http://baydeltaconservationplan.com/ContactUs/ContactUs.aspx) directs press inquires to Nancy Vogel at firstname.lastname@example.org. Delta Alliance does not have Ms. Vogel’s phone number.
Link to announcement from DWR that NOD is released: