Opposition to peripheral canal/tunnel grows
June 27, 2012
• Thirty-six organizations demand answers from federal government
• ‘Will create chronic drought conditions and environmental devastation in the estuary’
California organizations ranging from the Sierra Club to the Planning and Conservation League – 36 in all – are demanding answers from the federal government before a peripheral canal around the Delta or a tunnel beneath it is authorized.
In a joint letter to the Secretaries of Interior and Commerce, the groups urge delaying the imminent announcement of a peripheral canal or tunnel until "fundamental details" are made available.
"The Departments of Interior and Commerce are poised to join with the state of California to recommend the construction of a multi-billion dollar plumbing project before defining how much it will cost, how it will be operated, or how much water it will produce without environmental damage," the groups write.
They say that the administration of Gov. Jerry Brown wants the state to build two "world-record-size tunnels capable of taking nearly all of the average freshwater flow of the Sacramento River" --15,000 cubic feet per second — away from the San Francisco Bay Delta Estuary.
Recent briefings indicate diversion would initially be limited to 9,000 cubic feet per second.
The proposed double tunnel project is designed to give a federal assurance of water to south of the Delta irrigators, the letter says.
The groups say that as proposed, the plan will give a federal guarantee of increased water to be taken from the estuary. “This proposed higher diversion will create chronic drought conditions and environmental devastation in the estuary," the letter says.
Earlier, 12 northern California member of Congress called on the Obama administration to delay the “imminent announcement.”