California Governor Gavin Newsom revived plans to construct the controversial Delta tunnel water project. On Wednesday, the state unveiled a downsized version of the original proposal.
The new plan now comes after three years of little public activity. In the released blueprint termed Delta Conveyance, a 45-mile tunnel will be dug. It will divert water from the Sacramento River through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to farms and cities across the state. The blueprint outlines the expected environmental impact. This Environmental Impact Assessment Report is key in securing approvals for the project.
Proponents of the downsized version say that a single tunnel running parallel to Interstate 5 will create fewer disruptions. Further, they also say that it will be simple to put up than the initial twin-tunnel proposal by Governor Jerry Brown. Newsom scrapped the twin tunnel project immediately after taking office in 2019 and directed officials to start working on a plan that would lower the project’s footprint.
While Newsom’s directive might have delayed the project, it has not changed much about its impact. What is being proposed now is similar to what Brown had in mind. In essence, they both cite the necessity of the project to deal with California’s unreliable water supply issues. Further, some experts say that it will reduce the harm the current system inflicts on the ecosystem.
Some of the problems that the project faced have been from conservationists and Indigenous communities. According to Doug Obegi, a lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council, such a project would cause far worse ecological problems. The Delta Counties Coalition, on the other hand, termed the revival of the project another ”deficient and flawed tunnel plan.” They say that it would do little to improve the water supply across the state.
Even so, the project will not start until 2028.
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