On July 25, 2012, California Governor Jerry Brown along with the Department of the Interior and NOAA announced revisions to the proposed framework for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP). This new preferred alternative proposal, along with a range of alternative proposals, will be subject to a full public environmental review. In making their announcements today, state and federal officials emphasized that the current state of the California water system is unsustainable from both an environmental and an economic perspective. The BDCP will play an important role in helping California achieve its co-equal goals of a reliable water supply and a healthy Bay Delta ecosystem.
A major aspect of the plan proposes construction of a pair of a water conveyance facilities designed to move water under the Delta from the north to the federal and state pumps at Tracy in the south. This facility as proposed could play an important role in the restoration of California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The revised preferred alternative includes water intake facilities with a total capacity of 9,000 cubic feet per second. The previous proposal’s water intake facilities operated at an intake capacity of 15,000 cubic feet per second.
The conveyance facility has been proposed, in part, to address the aging system of levees in the Delta that are at risk of collapse in an earthquake. If enough levees failed in a significant seismic event, salt water from the ocean could intrude up the Delta as far as the Tracy pumps. This scenario would make the pumps unusable and disrupt California’s water supply. Among numerous other components, the BDCP framework also calls for restoring approximately 113,000 acres of wetlands, floodplains and other habitat within and surrounding the Delta.
Parties working on the BDCP expect to issue a draft plan and corresponding EIS/EIR for public review this fall. Leading up to this release, state and federal agencies will work closely with public water agencies and other interested parties. Based on this input, state and federal agencies will continue to refine the revised proposals. After completion of this preliminary work the BDCP will release an updated progress report.
The official press release for the July 25, 2012 announcement can be found here: http://baydeltaconservationplan.com/Libraries/Dynamic_Document_Library/Joint_Announcement_Press_Release-7-25-12.sflb.ashx
(By John Wheat)