California’s Governor, Jerry Brown, has spent the past few years pushing his answer for the state’s water shortages, and the plan just got a little closer to fruition. Brown’s plan is to build two 35-mile tunnels, each four stories high, which would pump water from the Delta, near San Francisco, and bring it south to the rest of the state. Pumps already exist for this purpose, but the plans have been idled by lawsuits, because the pumping kills fish in the California Delta, some of whom are protected by the Endangered Species Act.
The Department of Water Resources recently endorsed the tunnels as environmentally sound, but a number of water conservationists and Northern California water agencies disagree. They argue that the plan would devastate the delta and local fish populations. Under current plans, the tunnel will not be taking any more water out of the estuary than the pumps would, but environmentalists fear that would change under drought conditions.
The Department of Water Resources also filed notice with the Sacramento County Superior Court toward securing any eventual funding for the project. The filing was on the state agency’s authority to issue revenue bonds to pay for the tunnel’s design and construction, regardless of whether it is reimbursed by the state’s many water districts who opt in to the tunnel project. “This brings the state closer to modernizing our aging water delivery system in a way that improves reliability and protects the environment,” said acting department director Cindy Messer.