Population growth and climate change create huge challenges to California water supplies. The state Department of Water Resources (DWR) has been pushing solutions from the last century, which include huge tunnels in the Delta (see October-November Yodeler, page 3) and new or raised dams for Sacramento River water.
The DWR has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on computer modeling in an attempt to get around a fundamental fact—that we are currently diverting more water from the state’s rivers and the Sacramento Delta than the ecosystems can sustain.
To promise more water to water-export agencies funding the proposed projects, DWR has had to relax current operating limits on north-state reservoirs. The computer models for the proposed operations of the Delta tunnels assume that Shasta, Trinity, and Folsom Reservoirs will be drained to minimum pool in the third year of a multi-year drought, and that Trinity River will be dried up completely. DWR is also assuming that water-quality standards in the Delta will be relaxed, allowing salty Bay water to be drawn even deeper into the estuary (this is a plan that purports to give equal weight to protection of the Delta environment!) These proposed operations would be disastrous for fish and for Sacramento Valley and Delta water users. Nonetheless the water agencies that would supposedly benefit have not yet agreed to pay for the project.
To get around the conflict, DWR is joining with the federal Bureau of Reclamation to propose raising Shasta Dam to store more water—but the raised dam would simply be a dry wall of concrete in nine out of 10 years, and the projected yield for the remaining very wet year double-counts the water that would be stored behind the dam and diverted downstream by the Delta tunnels.
DWR will be releasing the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan on Dec. 13. The public will have until April 14 to comment on the plan; see the next Yodeler for more about the EIR and the Club’s comments on it.
The Chapter Water Committee is working with the League of Women Voters-Eden Area Group to present a forum on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan in early 2014. We will post further information at theYodeler.org and on the Chapter Calendar when available.
To work with the Chapter Water Committee on in the campaign to oppose the Bay Delta Plan, contact committee co-chair Sonia Diermayer at (510)336-1102 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Sierra Club’s California/Nevada Water Committee is also working to develop sound alternative solutions. For more information, contact Deirdre Des Jardins at email@example.com.
Deirdre Des Jardins