The length of Sunday’s story on the state’s track record complying with Delta water quality standards forced me to leave a lot of material on the cutting room floor.
Including comments from Craig Wilson, the former Delta “Watermaster” who, until his retirement in 2014, worked for the same state water agency that is now holding extensive hearings that may decide the fate of the twin tunnels.
I asked Wilson his view of the state’s performance keeping the Delta fresh.
“I have to say that in general they have done a pretty good job in compliance with standards,” Wilson said.
When violations do occur, they are often inadvertent, slight, and quickly corrected, he said.
But here’s the rub: Wilson believes that if the tunnels are built, diverting much of the Sacramento River’s flow before the water reaches the heart of the Delta, that it will become that much more difficult in the future to meet downstream water quality standards.
“It’s going to take a whole heck of a lot of water,” he said.
Water which, if left in the Delta to satisfy the water quality standards, makes the $15 billion project less attractive financially for water users who must pay for it. “I don’t see how the customers are going to get much of a deal on that,” Wilson said.
That’s why Wilson has advocated for a smaller diversion on the west side of the Delta. That would allow water to flow through the estuary and satisfy water quality standards before getting slurped up and sent south.But so far, Wilson said, his proposal doesn’t seem to have gained traction.