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OAKLAND — Gov. Jerry Brown released the third version of his Delta tunnel plan in three years Thursday. This one elminates much of the wetland protections that were in place. The restoration component has been cut back from 100,000 acres to 30,000 for wetland and wildlife habitat.
The plan still calls for two underground tunnels that will take water from the Sacramento River around the Delta south. Currently that water irrigates 3 million acres of farmland in the Central Valley. The projected cost of the tunnels is $15 million.
The overall plan has also been separated into two parts: California WaterFix and California EcoRestore.
“We can’t just cross our fingers, hoping for the best in the Delta,” said Governor Brown. “Fish populations are at an all-time low. Bold action is imperative. We’ve listened to the public and carefully studied the science. This revised plan is the absolute best path forward.”
Californians for Water Security, a group of labor unions, businesses, water agencies and farmers, issued a statement supporting the plan’s changes.
“California’s historic drought is a stark reminder that we need to address the state’s severe water infrastructure problems immediately,” said Allan Zaremberg, President and Chief Executive Officer of CalChamber. “It is time to support the Governor’s ‘California Water Fix’ to secure our water system into the future.”
But the change prompted a protest from the plan’s opponents, Restore the Delta, a grassroots group that supports restoration of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
“The new plan violates the statutory ‘co-equal goals’, end-runs the EPA and federal scientists who refused to issue permits for the project. The governor has called the massive change “technical,” but opponents said it results from fatal flaws in the BDCP and the lack of funding for the restoration formerly proposed under the BDCP,” It said in a statement on its website.
Click here to see a fact sheet on the California EcoRestore plan.