SACRAMENTO—Northern California legislators pushed for a delay in the $23 billion water conveyance project through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta until more details are available on the state’s revised Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP).
“The state should not make premature commitments to a large-scale water export project before the project has been vetted and details of the BDCP are available for public review,” said State Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis), a long-time advocate for the Delta and opponent of plans to build a peripheral canal.
Wolk is the lead author of the request letter addressed to Natural Resources Secretary John Laird. It was signed by 15 state legislators including Senator Mark DeSaulnier and Assembly Members Jared Huffman, Alyson Huber, Joan Buchanan, and Wesley Chesbro.
“California and the Federal Government have a long history of missteps in the Delta,” it states. “We urge you to put aside proposals that advance plumbing before policy and refocus the BDCP on the many sustainable solutions that can be supported by sound science and realistic financing. As our congressional colleagues have pointed out, the most recent BDCP framework raises more questions than it answers, and puts at significant risk the ecosystem and communities of Northern California, and the ratepayers of Southern California.”
The legislators’ message mirrored that expressed in a letter from 12 members of Congress to Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior Ken Salazar and Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce Rebecca Blank.
The estimated cost of the BDCP tunnel conveyance system is now $23 billion, not including debt servicing, which equals $1.1 billion a year for 35 years. The plan would increase exports to south of Delta contractors including the Metropolitan Water District. The sheer size of the project and surface flow requirements for the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers and endangered Delta fish species may render the project environmentally and economically unfeasible.