Looks like Stockton-based Restore the Delta and twin tunnels orchestrator Jerry Meral have found something they can agree on:
Neither likes the Peripheral Canal Lite.
The proposal for a single tunnel with one-third the capacity of the existing twin tunnels proposal is getting criticized from both ends of the spectrum.
In a blog post on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan website, Meral (whose real title is deputy secretary for the California Natural Resources Agency) wrote that building one smaller tunnel would cost 60 percent as much as the existing proposal while moving only a third of the water.
It would not provide enough water for farms and cities south of the Delta in the event of widespread permanent flooding, his blog post says.
“Sadly, the alternative proposal also suggests greatly reducing the scale of habitat restoration contemplated in the current Bay Delta Conservation Plan,” the post says. “This is remarkable, considering the alternative is proposed by some conservation groups. It may reflect their lack of faith that restored habitat will improve fish populations, a concept that federal and state fish agencies support.”
Restore the Delta’s take is that a single tunnel “pencils out to be an even worse deal economically for urban ratepayers and San Joaquin Valley agribusiness.”
Unlike Meral, of course, RtD opposes tunnels altogether, favoring “regional water independence.”
The Restore the Delta statement came in response to this fact sheet by the State Water Contractors comparing the two alternatives. Like Meral, the contractors came to the conclusion that “there is no business case” for spending billions of ratepayer dollars on a downsized proposal that won’t solve water reliability problems.