Monday, December 9, 2013

State Releases Bay Delta Conservation Plan

The long-anticipated Bay Delta Conservation Plan was officially released today and greeted with rallies in Los Angeles, Santa Clara County and Sacramento by a coalition of groups opposing its major feature – giant tunnels designed to divert water under the Delta to farms in the Central Valley and Southern California metropolitan areas. If built, it would be one of the largest public works projects in the nation’s history. The draft Environmental Impact Study was released online by the State today. The federal Environmental Impact Report will be released December 13th. That will begin a 120-day period for public comment. The 30 thousand page document details the environmental features of a plan promoted by Governor Jerry Brown and the Resources Department as the best way to provide reliable water supplies for the State and restore the Delta’s impaired ecosystem. In addition to the twin tunnels, the plan would restore 153,000 acres of natural habitat in the Delta to enhance the ecosystem. These measures would improve fish habitat, protect natural plant and animal communities, enhance water channels and expand wetlands, grassland and vernal pool complexes. Critics say it will damage the Delta’s ecology and fishery. The broad coalition of groups against the plan promises to employ public opinion, lawsuits and a possible ballot measure to halt the BDCP. Vic Bedoian reports from Fresno.