“Waiting until after construction and the expenditure of billions of dollars to see if these experimental new concept fish screens will work cannot be reassuring.”
—Bill Jennings of the The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, blasting the fish screens supposed to protect fish from the new peripheral tunnels.
The screens to go with the Sacramento intake are experimental, and no one knows if they will work. The screens on the big pumps by Tracy are obsolete 1950s technology and don’t work very well.
Most people don’t realize it, but the Tracy pumps, giant old fish grinders that they are, will continue to play a big role in Delta water exports under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan and it’s new pump and tunnels.
The Sacramento pump will be limited by “flow requirements an biological constraints,” so, “BDCP currently estimates that 50% of State and Federal Project exports would come from the existing South Delta diversion facilities in average water years and as much as 75–84% in dry and critical water years,” Jennings writes.
The BDCP estimates this could make fish kills worse in certain years. An amazing outcome considering the billions to be spent on the project.
Jennings says the new pump shouldn’t be built until it is certain it will work and is legal under environmental law. And the old pump should get screens that work, too. This recommendation seems so obvious, so responsible, so fundamentally just for the Delta, I feel sure the state will ignore it.
If the history of the Delta tells us anything, it’s that past agency assurances that projects to divert water from the estuary would be beneficial or benign were grievously wrong: virtually all of them exacerbated conditions to the point where Delta fisheries are on life support,” Jennings writes. “Speculative promises of mitigation and accountability can no longer be sufficient to justify the construction of major water projects.”
Read Jennings press release here.