Some Delta advocates are ready to at least consider a smaller “peripheral tunnel.”
No way, others say.
In a split vote, the Delta Protection Commission last week agreed to send a letter asking the state to analyze a new plan that includes a 3,000 cfs tunnel — five times smaller than the twin tunnels currently being studied.
Environmental groups and some water districts issued the “portfolio” alternative earlier this month, repackaging a number of ideas that have been looked at separately but not collectively. Not just the tunnel, but also south of Delta storage, stronger Delta levees and habitat restoration.
Some commission members signaled they’d support the state studying that alternative — though they’re not ready to endorse the plan itself.
“We’ve been asking for this for four years — and you’ve repackaged a lot of what we’ve been saying. I believe we need to get this sooner than later,” said San Joaquin County Supervisor Larry Ruhstaller.
“The train is leaving,” said Delta farmer Bob Ferguson, a commission member. “For once, why don’t we get on that train?”
Commissioner Dante Nomellini, however, said any kind of tunnel would be a violation of the law.
“I wouldn’t want to be part of any implication that suggests we might go along with an isolated facility of any kind, regardless of size,” Nomellini said. “… There’s nothing in this proposal that emphasizes the need to take control away from the project operators and put it in the hands of some responsible agency that might operate the facility in accordance with protective requirements.”
The motion to write a letter passed, with 5 in support, 3 in opposition and one abstention.