Media Statement: CA Department of Water Resources’ cost-benefit analysis of Delta Tunnel Project

Media Statement

May, 16, 2024

CA Department of Water Resources’ cost-benefit analysis of proposed Delta Tunnel Project

CA Department of Water Resources’ (DWR) cost-benefit analysis of the proposed Delta Tunnel Projectreleased.

Governor Newsom’s proposed Delta Tunnel project is not just misguided; it’s a blatant disregard for the well-being of California’s environment and communities.

Industrial agricultural water users are poised to exploit the Delta Tunnel’s benefits, seizing 34 percent of the new water supply while shifting the cost burden onto everyday Southern Californians. Furthermore, the Delta tunnel offers negligible relief during prolonged droughts exacerbated by climate change. Instead of squandering $20.1 billion on a project with minimal returns, Governor Newsom should prioritize climate-resilient solutions like sustainable use, water conservation, and recycling that guarantee long-term water security for urban areas and don’t drain our rivers.

The Governor’s deaf ear to the cries of fishing families and businesses, communities of color, Tribes, and environmental advocates is a shameful testament to his administration’s priorities. By sidelining their concerns, he perpetuates systemic injustice in water policy decisions.

Plus, it’s baffling that he acknowledges the impacts of climate change on California’s water supply while championing a project that exacerbates these issues. Doubling down on water pumping with a tunnel project, pushing construction of Sites Reservoir, and scheming to implement the Bay-Delta voluntary agreements in the face of collapsing salmon populations is not just reckless; it’s negligence. 

In fact, DWR claimed a ‘missed opportunity’ and stated, ‘If the Delta Conveyance Project was operational during the high rain events of winter 2021-2022…a significant amount of water could have been captured and moved.’ Apparently, they forgot to mention the missed opportunity for the salmon fishing industry and families to make a living because of another closed fishery this year due to the dismally low number of baby salmon that survived their water policies in 2021. Imagine how low the salmon population numbers would be right now if the Delta Tunnel was actually operational in 2021.

The fixation on the Delta tunnel, alongside other destructive water initiatives, paints a damning picture of the state’s commitment to environmental stewardship. It’s time to prioritize the needs of California’s people and ecosystems over corporate interests and shortsighted, fish-killing projects.

Scott Artis, Executive Director

Golden State Salmon Association