California has long had a mismatch.
“Where the waterfalls and where the people are. Much of the water, about two-thirds, fall in the Sierra Nevada, but most of the population is in the Central Valley, the Bay Area, along the coast or in Southern California,” said Carrie Buckman, Environmental Program Manager with Delta Conveyance.
In addition to climate change, less and less water is falling overall, and the mismatch becomes a crisis. Trying to balance those needs has California’s Department of Water Resources seeking a water lifeline.
“To store water when it’s available and deliver it to them when they need it,” Buckman said.
Pushing a pipeline plan, like the Delta Conveyance project, on many different occasions seemed dead in the water.
The area referred to as the Delta goes from Sacramento to Tracy and the Bay Area to the ocean. Fifty percent of California’s water moves through these waterways.
The current Delta Conveyance Project proposal, more commonly known as the Delta Tunnels, would be one tunnel with intakes near Hood.
It would move the water through a south tunnel to the Bethany Reservoir, past Antioch, and Stockton to the Mountain House area. From there, the water would go to the Bay Area, then to the Central Valley, and to Southern California.
DWR said the project would serve Californians, who get their water through the state water project. That’s 27 million people, but others are worried about the 271 who live in Hood, the proposed starting point of the potential tunnel.
“You can’t tell me it won’t destroy this town, simple as that,” Chair Community Council Mario Moreno said.
Moreno is a Hood native, and he’s terrified of the potential impact a long construction project could have on this tiny Delta community.
The concern is nothing new.
Dan Walters, a journalist, and columnist for Cal Matters has been covering Delta Water Diversion efforts for over 40 years. He’s heard nearly every argument against them ranging from environmental to quality of life.
“There’s not one single thing in the opposition,” Walters said. “It’s a variety of interests and beliefs that are taken as a whole that the tunnel will be a net damage to the Delta.”
Buckman said the new tunnel aims to minimize impacts on landscape and wildlife.
“It is following a route that we think has less effects within delta communities,” Buckman said.
But to still fill the essential need for water storage.
Buckman points to the storms of October and December of last year. DWR claims that if the proposed Delta Conveyance had been in place, they would have been able to keep the freshwater from going into the ocean, saving and transporting enough to serve 2.5 million Californians for a year.
Moreno worries years of noise, debris, traffic jams, and unsightly construction will drive his lifelong neighbors, friends, and visitors away from the community. He’s going to continue to fight for his peaceful waterfront way of life in the Delta, as the DWR fights to keep water sustain life flowing throughout California.
“We’ll see, I’m still going to be here fighting,” Moreno said.
The DWR has released a draft report detailing the expected environmental impacts of the project. The public has until the end of the year to weigh in with concerns or suggestions.