Gov. Jerry Brown, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Assistant Administrator for Fisheries Eric Schwaab today outlined revisions to the proposed Bay Delta Conservation Plan that, along with a full range of alternative proposals, will undergo a rigorous public environmental review in the coming months.
The announcement carefully avoided the use of the term we will pursue a "tunnels plan" or a "peripheral canal," though it was clearly about a tunnels plan.
Speaking at a joint press conference in Sacramento, the officials said California's water system is unsustainable from an environmental and economic perspective and called the BDCP a key part of a comprehensive solution to achieve the dual goals of a reliable water supply for California and a healthy California Bay Delta ecosystem that supports the state's economy.
They said the revised BDCP approach is grounded in science and designed to help restore fish populations, protect water quality and improve the reliability of water supplies for water users who receive deliveries from state and federal projects. It improves on key aspects of previous proposals and offers a strong governance model, financing options, a scientific review process and a steadfast conservation foundation for a new water conveyance facility to move water and help restore the health of the ecosystem, they said in a joint news release.
The elements of a preferred proposal include the construction of water intake facilities with a total capacity of 9,000 cubic feet per second -- down from an earlier proposal of 15,000 cfs – operations of which would be phased in over several years and a conveyance designed to use gravity flow to maximize energy efficiency and to minimize environmental impact. Many other alternatives, including no conveyance facility, and facilities with capacities ranging from 3,000 to 15,000 cfs, will also be fully considered as part of the upcoming environmental review process.