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February 27, 2013: Vol. 3, #2

The Voice of California's Rivers Since 1973
Features
Auburn Dam, is it back? Again?
Raising Shasta dam to help salmon, really?
Transitions: Katy Cotter FOR's new Legal Counsel
Your memories of 40 years of FOR

In-Depth: State of California carrying out biased cost study on Delta Tunnels
Departments
Donate gently used gear to FOR's on-river work
River in the spotlight: The Sacramento River
[object Object]Auburn Dam, is it back? Again?
Ron Stork,  Policy Director
Last week the Sacramento Bee reported that Rep. Tom McClintock had imposed some conditions on support for reauthorization of the Federal levee project that protects the Natomas Basin of Sacramento and southern Sutter Counties: Auburn dam.
The giant 685-ft-high dam on the North Fork American River has been laid to rest many times: by seismicity concerns during the Carter Administration, by the fiscal discipline of Ronald Reagan, by Mother Nature washing the 200-ft-high Auburn Coffer Dam away, by George H. W. Bush because of unresolved differences between the Corps of Engineers and his environmental agencies, by a series of Congressional votes or non-votes against the dam, by George W. Bush’s Secretary of the Interior beginning the reconstruction of the downstream Folsom Dam to meet Sacramento’s desire for a lot more control over American River flood flows, by the Sacramento area moving on to other floodwater management and other water supply projects, and by the State Water Resources Control Board stripping the dam of its water rights.
In the meantime, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management found the Auburn State Recreation Area (formed to encompass the Auburn dam reservoir) and parts of the South Fork to be suitable for National Recreation Area status and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation found the river segments in the Auburn State Recreation Area to be eligible for National Wild & Scenic River status.
Yet Representative McClintock still has a dream: to build the Auburn dam.  And he doesn’t mind taking hostages to get it. 
Auburn Journal Dam Cartoon
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
We've been down this road before.  By 1989 then State Senator John Doolittle was crusading that there will be no dam at Auburn unless it turns 48 miles of the American River into a reservoir.  In 1995, as he ascended to the same chairmanship in the House of Representatives that Rep McClintock now holds, he had his press secretary deliver an ultimatum to the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency that there will be no alternative flood-control approaches. It is Auburn multipurpose dam or nothing.
Rep. McClintock has just done the same.
It’s easy to dismiss Rep Tom McClintock. He’s just a throwback to another less environmentally conscious era.
True, but he is the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Water and Power.  There, he has almost singlehandedly blocked the Klamath River settlement to remove the dams on the Klamath River.
And now he wants to hold capital of California hostage unless Congress reauthorizes Auburn dam.
Time to write your Congressman.
MFAmericanRiversevans
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Park your old car on the River Bank - FOR's Bank that is!

Friends of the River now accepts donations of cars, boats, trucks, jet skis and more! In a cooperative effort between Donation Line and FOR your vehicle can be donated to help save our rivers! You must have a clean title. Free Towing & No Hassles. Pick up ASAP.
Call 1-877-227-7487 extension 2811
 
Shasta Dam Raise Provides “Negligible” Salmon Benefits According To Wildlife Service
Steve Evans, Wild Rivers Project Coordinator
Shasta Dam is the sixth highest dam in California, but it creates the state’s largest reservoir (by volume). The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is studying a possible 18.5 foot-high raise of Shasta Dam with the primary purpose of enlarging the reservoir to supply cold water for spawning salmon downstream in the Sacramento River.
But the Bureau’s fellow federal agency – the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – found that the Bureau’s proposed raise of Shasta Dam would provide “negligible” benefits for downstream salmon 90% of the time. That means that in 9 years out of 10, the raised dam would not provide sufficient cold water to benefit salmon survival downstream. As climate change reduces the snow pack and increases drought volatility, the already “negligible” cold water benefits provided by the dam raise would likely disappear altogether.
The Service’s finding is a blow to the Bureau’s plans, particularly since the Bureau claims that the primary purpose of the dam raise is to benefit salmon. In fact, the Bureau estimates that 61% of the alleged benefits provided by the dam raise are public benefits associated with enhancing downstream salmon. This means that the public (federal and state taxpayers) would be expected to pick up 61% of the estimated $1.1 billion cost to build the dam and the same percentage of the annual $54 million cost to operate the project.
The Bureau recently terminated the public comment period on its lengthy Preliminary Draft Environmental Impact Statement (PDEIS) for the proposed Shasta Dam raise and reservoir enlargement. Required by law, the Service’s Fish and Wildlife Coordination Report was attached as an appendix to the PDEIS. In its report, the Service summarized alternatives to the dam raise that would likely result in greater increases in salmon survival. These include improving Shasta Dam’s existing temperature control device, restoring spawning gravel and rearing habitat, improving fish passage, increasing minimum flows, and screening water diversions.
The Service’s report challenges the brave new paradigm advocated by some federal and state water agencies that California’s rivers and estuaries – already severely damaged by the more than 1,400 dams built in the state in the last century – can somehow be improved or even restored by enlarging existing and building new dams.
Buried in the Bureau’s PDEIS is the real reason behind the proposal to raise Shasta Dam. The dam raise could boost the total volume of water that can be stored behind Shasta Dam by 634,000 acre-feet (approximately 2/3rds the volume of Folsom Reservoir on the American River). But the firm annual yield of the 18.5-foot raise is only 133,000 acre-feet. All of this firm yield would be sold to downstream water contractors. Water agencies located south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta could receive up to 77% of the additional firm yield. This ties the dam raise directly to the current proposal to build giant tunnels under the Delta to increase exports of fresh water from the estuary as part of the so-called Bay Delta Conservation Plan.
In addition to not providing the level of salmon benefits touted by the Bureau, there are a number of other serious problems with the proposed dam raise. Enlarging the reservoir would flood a segment of the McCloud River protected by the California Wild & Scenic Rivers Act. Two south of Delta water agencies – the Metropolitan and Westlands Water Districts – have already vowed to amend the state law protecting the McCloud in order to facilitate the dam raise. The water districts are also expected to lobby for the removal of a prohibition against state funding of the Shasta Dam raise in the water bond that will be before California voters in November 2014.
The enlarged reservoir would also flood what’s left of the ancient homeland of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, which lost much of its cultural heritage when Shasta Reservoir was filled in the 1940s. The larger reservoir would also flood thousands of acres of National Forest lands managed for outdoor recreation and wildlife habitat, with significant and unavoidable impacts on the threatened Shasta salamander and dozens of other protected wildlife and plant species.
Raising the dam would also further modify flows in the Sacramento River, with possible serious impacts on the river’s riparian habitat and wildlife species. And it would increase fresh water diversions from the Delta, which threaten the estuary’s declining native fish populations.
To review the Bureau’s PDEIS and the Service’s draft Fish and Wildlife Coordination Report, visit http://www.usbr.gov/mp/slwri/documents.html.
ClaveypaddlesphotoFOR Needs River Gear!
Scott Arrants, Board of Elected Volunteers
In September a group of valued FOR volunteers helped out with the annual "Gear Love Day" where we performed basic maintenance and inventoried the FOR rafting gear.  The gear is well used when promoting FOR and FOR's message.  The conclusion we came to is that the gear needs help!  We are looking for some help in the following areas:
Rafts
  • Two rafts have leaks that need to be found and fixed. 
  • One raft has a leaky floor valve that needs repair/replacement.
  • One raft has a repaired floor that needs to be installed (we have the raft, floor, and webbing). 
Contact Scott Arrants, scott.arrants@gmail.com  or Greg Gilmore (Big Bird), ggilmores@yahoo.com  and we would be happy to assist with arrangements for you to repair one or more rafts!
Other Gear:
  • PFDs - We need more!  We have 15 small/medium, 10 large/extra large, 3 adult universal, 26 child
  • Paddles - We need more!  We have 50 paddles and 2 guide sticks
  • Roll-a-table - We need 1-2 more, we only have one.
If you are willing to donate money specifically for gear, please contact Stacy Alyse Wieser, stacyalyse@gmail.com  who has graciously agreed to be the collection point for gear donations.
Katy CotterTransitions: Katy Cotter hired as FOR's Legal Counsel
FOR is pleased to announce that Katy Cotter has been offered and accepted the full-time staff position of Legal Counsel at FOR as of January 1, 2013.  Prior to her staff position, Katy volunteered and served as a contractor to Friends of the River beginning in September of 2011, after having rafted several times with Friends down the American River.
She assists our Senior Counsel Bob Wright on the War on Nature case, which challenges the Army Corps of Engineers’ policy of vegetation removal on levees.  She is also working on finding ways to minimize the environmental impacts of hydroelectric facilities, particularly the Pit 1 hydroelectric facility on the Pit River. Katy also advocates for minimal impacts to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in the administrative processes governing the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, the Delta Plan, and the State Water Resources Control Board Water Quality Control Plan update.
Prior to joining Friends of the River, Katy worked in private practice in Sacramento, building an expertise in, among other things, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and the Clean Water Act.  Katy’s legal summaries have been published in the Summary of California Appellate Cases by the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) and the Year in Review by the American Bar Association. Katy graduated from the University of Virginia with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and went on to receive her Juris Doctorate from the University of California, Davis.  Katy has been a member of the California Bar since 2006.  Katy loves hiking, rafting, and swimming in and around American River. You can reach Katy at (916) 442-3155 ext 223 or by email to kcotter@friendsoftheriver.org.
sactrails
River in the spotlight: The Sacramento River
 
 
In its long journey between Mt. Shasta and the San Francisco Bay, the Sacramento River flows through a low range of oak studded hills in the northern Sacramento Valley. Here, the river has cut a scenic 25 mile-long canyon capped with lava rim-rock just upstream of the small town of Red Bluff. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages extensive public lands for recreation and wildlife habitat along this segment of river and along its two tributaries -- lower Battle Creek and Paynes Creek.
The Sacramento River and Battle Creek support threatened and endangered runs of chinook salmon and steelhead, as well as a healthy population of trophy-sized rainbow trout. The area's exceptional riparian habitat is home for bald eagle, osprey, wild turkey, and river otter. The surrounding uplands are clothed in blue oak, foothill pine, and seasonal grasses. Vernal pools provide habitat for rare plant species, as well as important wetlands for Canada geese and the greater sandhill crane.
The waterways are popular outdoor recreation destinations, providing extensive opportunities for angling, canoeing, rafting, motor-boating, sightseeing, hiking, and hunting. With several easy river access points to choose from, the Sacramento offers some of the finest canoe water in the state. The 15 mile segment of lower Battle Creek upstream of its confluence with the Sacramento river features a calm water float through a rich riparian jungle.
[object Object]Your memories of 40 years of FOR
Johnnie Carlson, Operations Director
2013 marks the 40th anniversary of Friends of the River.  Founded in the struggle to save the Stanislaus River from the filling of the New Melones Dam, FOR has gone on to fight countless battles to save our wild and free rivers – and you have been a part of that history.
To help FOR mark our 40th birthday we are looking for your memories and photos to share on our website and at our upcoming events in 2013. If you have photos, memories of FOR river trips, or river activism experiences to share – please email them to us at info@friendsoftheriver.org.  We will be building a page of memoires on our website beginning this spring!
Support Rivers by Giving at Work! To find out more email us at: workplacegiving@friendsoftheriver.org
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 In-Depth: State of California carrying out biased cost study on Delta Tunnels
By Bob Wright, Senior Counsel
 
The Delta Water Tunnels are being pushed by the governor as the central piece of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP). The water exporters, aided and abetted by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), lust for the Delta Tunnels. The twin tunnels would be  150 feet underground,  over 35 miles long and would take massive quantities of freshwater out of the Sacramento River by way of new intakes near Clarksburg south to the pumping plants near Tracy. The maximum capacity of the tunnels would be 15,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) which is a typical entire flow of the Sacramento River during the summer. This is a revival of the “peripheral canal” which the exporters and this same governor attempted to inflict upon California  back in the 1970s. Happily, that effort was defeated by a referendum in June 1982 rejecting the peripheral canal  by a statewide vote of about 63-27%.  Sadly, the attempt to grab all that water is back.
 
Friends of the River is a stalwart opponent of the Delta Tunnels. Indeed, it would be contrary to the very name of the organization to do anything other than oppose  efforts by water exporters aided and abetted by certain politicians to take massive quantities of water out of California’s greatest river to run it through underground tunnels.
Presently, the South of the Delta exporters face some constraints in how much water they can take. Salinity is increasing in the Delta as result of existing diversions that will be aggravated in the future by rising sea level resulting from climate change. Thus the exporters at present must deal with salinity just as Delta water users and Delta fish  must try to deal with salinity. Changing the point of diversion to a location upstream from the Delta would free the exporters to take as much water as they want. This would  result in unleashing a “Hungry Tiger” on Northern California rivers. Potential dam projects that presently do not make sense economically because of limitations on diversions might appear to make sense economically because existing limits on how much water can be taken would be eliminated or raised because of the shift in diversion to  a site upstream from the Delta.
 
One critical part of the effort going on right now to inflict the Delta Tunnels on California is the process by which DWR is carrying out a biased benefit-cost study attempting to misrepresent the Delta Tunnels as having a favorable, instead of unfavorable, benefit-cost outcome. Seven organizations submitted comment letters by the closing date of February 6, 2013, on the proposed benefit-cost study. Friends of the River was one of those organizations. C-WIN joined our letter. Other significant comment letters included the letter from the Environmental Water Caucus which adopted and incorporated our comment letter, and the letter from Professor Jeffrey Michael of the University of the Pacific. What follows is an explanation of what DWR is up to.
 
Failure to Evaluate Reasonable Alternatives
 
            Professor David Sunding of the University of California, Berkeley, who is carrying out the benefit-cost study for DWR announced at the January 23, 2013 meeting of the BDCP Finance Working Group meeting that only two alternatives would be considered for the study— with BDCP, and without BDCP. Several of us who were present raised concerns about that approach and professor Sunding asked Deputy Director Meral if he could consider other alternatives.  Deputy Director Meral responded “no”. Later in the meeting, professor Jeffrey Michael, Director of the Business Forecasting Center, University of the Pacific, stated that assessment of alternatives is a standard part of benefit cost study and professor Sunding agreed with that. 
 
            Analysis of only one alternative, the no project alternative, is calculated to skew the study. The most basic issue is whether or not to develop massive new upstream from the Delta conveyance capacity for the exporters. There are reasonable alternatives to new upstream conveyance that would include positive features other than just “no BDCP.” As just one example groups have presented information on strengthening Delta levees at far less cost than the Delta Tunnels to reduce seismic risk. Developing and considering positive alternatives minus the Delta Tunnels would allow eliminating factors that the exporters and DWR are misusing to skew the analysis. The example here being that including true alternatives, not just the “no project” alternative, allows the proper and correct elimination or vast reduction in the claimed benefit of “reduced seismic risks to state and federal projects” (scope of work document). That is because an obvious alternative Plan minus the Delta Tunnels could and would include far less costly levee strengthening as opposed to expensive $14  billion 35 mile long Tunnels as a means to reduce seismic risks. Moreover, strengthening levees would protect Delta residents from flooding.  Tunnels would provide area residents no protection at all.
 
            Seismic risk is just one example of how foreclosing analysis of alternatives skews the study. There are many other ways in which foreclosing analysis of alternatives skews the study.
 
The Cumulative “Double Whammy” on the Delta resulting from Sea Level Rise plus Massive New Diversions Upstream for the Exporters Renders the Scope of Work Outdated
 
            The draft Delta Plan was issued November 30, 2012 by the Delta Stewardship Council. A portion of the Delta Plan admits that “A portion of the water flowing into the Delta is specifically allocated to Delta outflow to help repel salinity intrusion from the San Francisco Bay and to maintain low salinity water near the western edge of the Delta. This means that water that might otherwise be used for exports must be released from upstream reservoirs to help control salinity (NRC 2012).” (Delta Plan, 91). (All number references are to page numbers unless otherwise indicated). The Delta Plan admits that as a result of climate change “Sea level rise, as much as 55” by 2100 (OPC 2011), will result in high salinity levels in the Delta interior, which will impair water quality for agricultural and municipal uses and change habitat for fish species. Maintaining freshwater conditions in the Delta could require unanticipated releases of water from storage, which will reduce available water supplies for fish.” (Delta Plan, 80)(Emphasis added). The combination of sea level rise plus massive new diversions whether 15,000 cfs or 9000 cfs upstream from the Delta would amount to a “double whammy” on the Delta.
 
            The scope of work subject “increased salinity and urban water treatment in the west Delta” is out of date in noting that “salinity levels may increase in Suisun Marsh and the west Delta.” According to the Delta Plan, there will be high salinity levels in the Delta interior. The Delta Tunnels would multiply that effect by diverting massive quantities of water upstream from the Delta.
 
            Increasing salinity is not the only adverse impact on the Delta that would result from massive new diversions upstream for the exporters. The Delta Plan admits that there have been adverse impacts resulting from reducing the flushing of San Francisco Bay by Delta outflows. (Delta Plan, 84). Studies show that with increasing diversions, “the historical flushing of the Delta with freshwater is no longer occurring. This lack of flushing can also allow waste from urban and agricultural development upstream of and within the Delta to accumulate. Contaminants and toxics have been identified as factors in the decline of the Delta ecosystem. (Baxter, et al. 2007).” (Historical Fresh Water and Salinity Conditions in the Western Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and/Suisun Bay, Water Resources Department, 41, Contra Costa  Water District, February 2010, technical memorandum WR 10-001). New upstream diversions for the exporters will further lessen the already declining flushing of the Delta and Bay.
             DWR’s biased study is designed to conceal the long-range costs of virtually complete degradation of Delta water quality by way of increasing salinity and pollution and further reduction or elimination of already seriously endangered fish species.
 
Skewing the Benefit Cost Analysis
 
(a)   Habitat Values
 
            One scope of work document refers to “habitat values and bio diversity”, while another refers to “public benefits of Delta conservation and restoration.” All that the exporters would pay for would be the Delta Tunnels and the intakes. Virtually everything else would be paid for by the public through a bond measure that was pulled from the ballot by the Legislature in 2010 and 2012 because of fears it would not pass, and is now proposed to be on the ballot in 2014. The proposed analysis is designed to confuse the fact that only some would benefit from the new conveyance and increased exports while many of the costs would be borne by the general public. Increases in habitat can be provided without the Delta Tunnels. This issue is related to the failure to evaluate reasonable alternatives discussed above. There is no legitimate reason to include an increase in Delta habitat or species resulting from expenditures for environmental restoration as being a favorable benefit of the Delta Tunnels project. Habitat can be increased through other positive alternatives that simply leave out the Delta Tunnels. Again, this is a transparent effort driven by the exporters and DWR to skew the analysis to falsely show a favorable benefit cost result for the Delta Tunnels.
 
(b)   Greenhouse gas benefits
 
The amended scope of work document refers to “greenhouse gas benefits” from taking Delta lands out of production and this subject was also discussed at the meeting. In response to questioning, it was stated at the meeting that the benefits of taking exporter agricultural lands out of production including those in Westlands would not be considered. This omission will skew the study because on the one hand it will look at the greenhouse gas benefit of retiring agricultural land when analyzing the conservation measures but will ignore the same benefit that would occur if exporters retired a portion of their agricultural land. In addition to greenhouse gas benefits resulting from taking certain exporter agricultural lands out of production, there would also be a great benefit to the Delta because certain of the exporter agricultural lands result in extensive selenium pollution that is carried downstream. Moreover, taking those lands out of production would reduce exporter demands for water.
 
(c)    Salinity 
 
          The study includes the value of salinity reductions to the exporters’ urban water consumers. In other words, the exporters would gain the benefit of diverting massive quantities of freshwater upstream from the Delta so as to no longer share in the burden of increasing salinity in the Delta while those same diversions would further exacerbate the already worsening salinity intrusion into the Delta. The exporters are junior water rights holders who would create a situation in which the senior water rights holders in the Delta would have their water quality degraded as a result of actions by the junior exporters. At minimum, the study needs to value the cost of increased salinity to consumers in the Delta at least as highly as it is valuing the benefit of decreased salinity to consumers under the “model developed by MWD and the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation).” (Scope of Work).
 
(d)   Water quality
 
       Of course wetlands provide water quality improvements from filtering and purification. The Delta Tunnels, however, are not necessary to increase the amount of wetlands in the Delta.
 
       Professor Michael explained in the meeting that the focus of the benefit cost study should be on the water supply system and that there is no valid reason to include—“bundle”-- such other matters as reduction of seismic risk, habitat values, greenhouse gas reductions and so forth, because these actions can all be accomplished by way of alternatives that do not include the Delta Tunnels. The only thing bundling accomplishes is to misrepresent the Delta Tunnels alternative as having a more favorable benefit cost outcome than it actually does.  It appears that all the scope of work is attempting to accomplish is to produce a skewed study to challenge the conclusions of Professor Michael’s Eberhardt School of Business Forecasting Center, University of the Pacific, Benefit Cost Analysis of Delta Water Conveyance Tunnels (July 12, 2012). That study concluded that the costs of the Delta Tunnels would be 2.5 times higher than the benefits, so that the project does not make economic or financial sense.
 
Failure to Evaluate Adverse Aesthetic Impacts of the Massive Intake structures
 
            Professor Michael established that the study is not going to consider the adverse aesthetic impacts of the massive intake structures. That is an astonishing omission. The river and the levee roads along the river are already used by motorists, bicyclists, and boaters to enjoy the scenic beauty of the River. The intakes would be massive eyesores in what is presently a beautiful, serene, pastoral region. The adverse aesthetic impacts of destroying the scenic beauty of the area must be part of any legitimate benefit cost study.
 
Intakes will Run at High Levels
 
            In response to a stated presumption by a person at the meeting that there would not be significant diversions when water levels are low, professor Sunding stated that from the modeling he has seen, the intakes will be operating at very high levels. Professor Sunding’s candor on this point is appreciated. It appears, however, that in the BDCP environmental analysis, the diversions have been characterized as operating at much lower levels. Accordingly, it is critically important that the modeling professor Sunding has seen be disclosed now to the public in terms that the general public can interpret and understand. In keeping this information from the public, the BDCP process is violating the environmental full disclosure purposes of NEPA and CEQA. There is a very real potential for carrying out what amounts to a fraud upon the public in terms of the environmental analysis claim as reflected in the Delta Plan proposed Regulations “to optimize diversions in wet years when more water is available and conflicts with the ecosystem less likely, and limit diversions in dry years when conflicts with the ecosystem are more likely.” (Proposed Regulations § 5001(e)(1)(C). It sounds like there is on the one hand modeling for purposes of the benefit cost analysis showing that the intakes will take a lot of water, thus constituting a benefit for the exporters, while on the other hand the amount of water to be taken is minimized for purposes of the environmental analysis.
 
The Delta Tunnels Concept is Outdated and the Project may Become an Infamous White Elephant for Several Different reasons
 
(a)  Changing Technology and Conservation Efforts make the Delta Tunnels Concept Outdated
 
       The Delta Tunnels project is a product of 1950s, 1960s and 1970s thinking. The project is a resurrection of the “peripheral canal” that the State was going ahead with until stopped by the successful referendum against it in June 1982. A lot has changed  in the 30 years since then and there will be more changes over the next 30 years. Innovative thinkers know better than to embrace a “build now, think later” approach. A modern concept of reducing exports instead of developing new conveyance is Environmental Water Caucus Alternative 2 in the Delta Plan process supported by Friends of the River. As another example, a group of conservation and business organizations including the Natural Resources Defense Council, with the written support of San Diego, the San Diego County Water Authority and other urban water agencies proposed an alternative of a much smaller conveyance facility on January 16, 2013. Developments cited in support of the proposed alternative include dramatically increasing local water recycling and conservation, reinforcing Delta levees, improving cooperation among water agencies to maximize the benefits of water recycling and groundwater management to provide new water supplies and lower costs, and developing new water storage south of the Delta. One of the statements in the official Release for the alternative is “The many potential benefits of these investments include more water at a lower cost in comparison with the current draft BDCP plan, a healthier environment, thousands of new jobs in the communities that would pay the majority of costs, greater likelihood of permitting from regulators, greater potential to attract funding partners and reduce pressure for public funding, faster water supply benefits; more local control of water supply, and less reliance on imported water.” (Natural Resources Defense Council release January 16, 2013).
 
            Thus a number of urban water agencies have determined that other alternatives including dramatic increases in local water recycling and conservation are preferable, can be instituted sooner, and cost less than the massive Delta Tunnels. The scope of study needs to be expanded to include analysis to ensure it does not promote a White Elephant that will be obsolete by or before the time it would even become operational—2026 at the earliest. The scope of study also needs to be expanded to consider the benefits and costs resulting from the massive Delta Tunnels reducing the incentive to make dramatic increases in local water recycling and conservation, whereas alternatives not including the massive Delta Tunnels would increase the incentive to make dramatic increases in local water recycling and conservation. The scope of study needs to include the “opportunity cost” to account for the fact that ratepayer funds expended for higher rates to pay for the Delta Tunnels would not be available to pay for alternative and less environmentally destructive water supplies such as increases in water recycling and conservation.
 
(b) Climate Change and the Endangered Species Act also Raise the Prospect of the Delta Tunnels project Being a classic White Elephant
 
            There is no discretion under the Endangered Species Act to authorize a project that would jeopardize survival of listed fish or adversely modify critical habitat. Center for Biological Diversity v. United States Bureau of Land Management (Ruby Pipeline Case), 698 F.3d 1101 (9th Cir. 2012). Pumping has already been restricted below capacity from the Delta by federal district court orders under the Endangered Species Act. The Recirculated Programmatic Draft EIR (RDEIR) for the Delta Plan admits that the “Revised Project”— anticipated upstream diversions for the exporters under the BDCP plan—would have significant and unavoidable environmental impacts including violation of water quality standards and adverse effects on special status species and habitat. (RDEIR, 24-10). The admitted impacts on biological resources include “substantial adverse effects on sensitive natural communities, including wetlands; substantial adverse effects on special-status species; substantial adverse effects on fish or wildlife species habitat; interfere substantially with the movement of any native resident or migratory fish or wildlife species or with established natural resident or migratory wildlife corridors.” (RDEIR, 24-10).
 
            The situation will worsen because of climate change. The Delta Plan establishes that “Warmer temperatures throughout the state will cause higher evaporation rates, particularly during the hot summer and early fall months, contributing to reduced stream flows, drier soils, reduced groundwater infiltration, higher losses of water from surface reservoirs, increased urban and agricultural demand for irrigation water, and more water needed for ecosystem protection (California Natural Resources Agency 2008).” (Delta Plan, 80). Moreover, recent studies sponsored by the California Climate Change Center, released in support of the 2012 and 2009 California Climate Change Assessments demonstrate that there will be a significant increase in dry and critically dry years by the latter half of this century with a corresponding decrease in wet and above normal years.
 
            The scope of study needs to be expanded to include the possibility that future developments including climate change and regulatory activities or court actions under the Endangered Species Act might either prohibit the Delta Tunnels from operating at all, or severely reduce under some or all conditions the amount of water allowed to be transported through the Tunnels. The parties paying for the Delta Tunnels might end up having paid for and continuing to pay for a project of little or no economic value. That would be a project that would have great costs but little or no benefits. The benefit cost study also needs to fairly and candidly discuss and disclose the risks of the exporters attempting to transfer the burdens of paying for what would prove to be an unnecessary or little used project--a classic White Elephant-- to the public.
 
(c) Future State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) Proceedings may also Result in the Delta Tunnels project being a White Elephant
 
            The Statement of Reasons filed by the Delta Stewardship Council in support of the proposed Delta Plan Regulations includes statements that “The best available science suggests that the currently required flow objectives within and out of the Delta are insufficient to protect the Delta ecosystem. Additionally, uncertainty regarding future flow objectives for the Delta impairs the reliability of water supplies that depend on the Delta or its watershed. The predictability of water exports cannot be improved and the Bay Delta Conservation Plan cannot be implemented without timely State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) action to update flow objectives.” (Statement of Reasons, 5-6).
 
            The Delta Plan, citing National Audubon Society v. Superior Court (Mono Lake case), 33 Cal.3d 419 (1983), explains that the State “has an affirmative duty to take the public trust into account in the planning and allocation of water resources and to protect public trust uses whenever feasible.” (Delta Plan, 82). The Delta Plan explains that “the state’s navigable lakes and streams are resources that are held in trust for the public and are to be protected for navigation, commerce, fishing, recreational, ecological, and other public values.” (Delta Plan, 82). 
 
            The Delta Plan admits that the original SWP and CVP contracts assumed greater water export quantities than consistently can be delivered. (Delta Plan, 91). A recent workshop conducted by the SWRCB has shown that legitimate claims to water flowing into the Bay Delta exceed the available water supply by more than five times in most years. In the words of the California Supreme Court “[B]ecause the State Water Project had never been fully constructed there is a huge gap between what is promised and what can be delivered, rendering State Water Project entitlements nothing more than hopes, expectations, water futures or as the parties refer to them, paper water. . .” Vineyard Area Citizens for Responsible Growth, Inc. v. City of Rancho Cordova, 40 Cal.4th 412, 430 (2007). Moreover, “these project rights are junior in priority to the rights held by water users in the Delta and within the Delta watershed.” (Delta Plan, 82).
 
            The scope of the benefit cost study must also consider and evaluate the possibility that future SWRCB proceedings determining how much water is actually available, and protecting the Delta under the public trust doctrine, may also sharply reduce or eliminate water available for transport through the Delta Tunnels. Moreover, there is the prospect of water rights adjudications and the exporters are last in line in terms of water rights. That also raises a real prospect of prohibition or curtailment of diversions through the Delta Tunnels. Again, such actions are real possibilities that could render the Delta Tunnels project a White Elephant having great cost but little or no benefit.
 
The Statement that “the Proposed Study takes a Statewide Perspective” is Not True as there is no Consideration of Upstream Costs
 
            The first paragraph in the amendment describing the scope of work states that “The proposed study takes a statewide perspective, and analyzes impacts to various groups whose welfare may be impacted by the Plan.” That statement is simply not true at present. Attempting to maintain freshwater conditions in the Delta in the wake of the massive new diversions upstream for the exporters will likely require releases of water from storage reducing available water supplies for fish. (Delta Plan, 80, 91). The massive new diversions for the Delta Tunnels would thus cause change in storage and releases from upstream reservoirs such as Shasta, Trinity, Oroville, and Folsom, and affect and imperil all provisions already in place designed to maintain cold water storage and minimum flows upstream for fishery and other purposes. Consequently, the Delta Tunnels would affect water availability, environmental conditions, and fisheries throughout the Sacramento River and San Joaquin River watersheds upstream from the Delta. There is no mention of these upstream impacts in the draft scope of work. The costs of these upstream impacts must be considered in a “statewide” study.  
 
Possible Explosion of Costs
 
            The  costs for the replacement span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge between Oakland and Yerba Buena Island exploded from the original projection of under $1 billion to over $6 billion. Massive government public works projects tend to cost far more than what the government claims when trying to sell the public on the project. The scope of the benefit cost study must be expanded to include analysis of possible increase or explosion in projected costs of the Delta Tunnels, intakes, and mitigation measures, who would get stuck with the bill, and how payment of the bill could be guaranteed.
 
Draft Technical Report Must be made Available to the Public
 
            The Scope of Work document in section 2 recites that the Draft Technical Report will be submitted for review by DWR, Reclamation, “and the water contractors involved in the BDCP.”
 
            The Draft Technical Report needs to be submitted to the public at the same time it goes to the exporters. Surely, public agencies in Northern California, Delta and Sacramento Valley water users, along with the public including California taxpayers and ratepayers have the same right to see the Draft as the exporters. The BDCP is a public project.
 
CONCLUSION
 
            Past California environmental and benefit cost disasters have ranged from endangering Mono Lake to drying up a 60 mile stretch of the once mighty San Joaquin River to the explosion of costs for the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge structure replacement project. All “friends of the river”, the public, taxpayers, and ratepayers must become active to prevent the exporters and DWR from inflicting another massive and costly prospective environmental and benefit cost disaster on the public, taxpayers, ratepayers and our environment.
 

 

 
 
 

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