Coalition Calls for Portfolio-Based Alternative to be Analyzed in BDCP
A coalition of environmental and business groups called on state and federal officials today to consider a portfolio-based approach as a stand-alone alternative in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan process.
In a letter to U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and California Natural Resources Secretary John Laird and other officials, the coalition said the conceptual alternative offers a more effective and affordable package of solutions to address the complex water challenges facing the Delta.
Coalition members include The Bay Institute, the Contra Costa Council, Defenders of Wildlife, Environmental Entrepreneurs, the Planning and Conservation League and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Separately, seven urban water agencies, including the San Diego County Water Authority, Alameda County Water District, Contra Costa Water District, East Bay Municipal Utility District, Otay Water District, the City of San Diego and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, sent a letter to Salazar and Laird asking that the conceptual alternative be thoroughly studied as a stand-alone alternative in the environmental review process for the BDCP.
The portfolio-based proposal calls for a scaled-down conveyance facility and additional, complementary investments in local water supply sources, regional coordination, south of Delta storage, levee improvements, and habitat restoration. The total price tag would be similar to or smaller than estimates for a large-scale conveyance system, according to the water agencies’ letter.
“A portfolio approach could produce superior benefits at a similar or lower cost to water users and the public, and at reduced levels of environmental impacts,” the water agencies wrote. “It has the potential to be consistent with the best available science and, as a result, may be more readily permittable and capable of delivering benefits more rapidly. It would appear that a solid business case can be made for such an alternative; in any event, the business case must be made before any project proceeds.”
The portfolio alternative calls for:
- Increased water exports from the Bay-Delta in wet years and smaller water exports in dry years.
- A North Delta diversion facility and tunnel for 3,000 cubic feet of water per second (as opposed to 9,000 cfs in the current plan)
- Major statewide investments in water recycling, urban conservation, groundwater cleanup, capturing storm water and other local water supply development.
- Improved physical connections between water agencies in the Bay Area, Central Valley and Southern California to aid the movement of water and to use infrastructure more efficiently.
- New surface and/or groundwater storage south of the delta for storing wet-year deliveries for use in subsequent dry years.
- Levee upgrades to protect people and infrastructure in the delta.
- Delta floodplain and tidal marsh restoration on approximately 40,000 acres.