California officials released the first of three updates last week in the long-awaited Bay Delta Conservation Plan, outlining the administration’s plan to build twin tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta that would provide increased water supply reliability to Central and Southern California while also serving to restore the Delta’s troubled ecosystem. The Plan also proposes restoration of crucial tidal marsh and wetlands habitat in the Delta needed to support multiple species.
Currently, 25 million people and three million acres of irrigated farm land rely on Northern California water conveyed through the Delta. Water deliveries have been sharply curtailed in recent years by regulatory actions under the Endangered Species Act. By changing the point at which export water is diverted from the southern Delta to an area on the Sacramento River just south of Sacramento, and conveying that water in tunnels under the Delta, the impacts of current pumping operations – altered Delta flows and entrainment of protected fish – can be avoided.
The plan is estimated to cost $24 billion over the next 50 years. Water district ratepayers that receive federal and state water from the project would be responsible for most of the cost, with public funds needed for habitat restoration in the Delta. There will be a public meeting following each of the three BDCP releases, with the first meeting March 20. Click here to watch a video about the BDCP from the California Department of Water Resources.
For more information, including access to all of the released documents, visit baydeltaconservationplan.com.
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