State and Feds will release EIS for Delta Tunnels plan tomorrow

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Just in time for the Holidays, the California Department of Water Resources and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced they will release their 80,000-page Environmental Impact Report/ Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/ EIS) for the controversial Delta Tunnels plan on Thursday, December 22, 2016.

The release of the huge document by the two lead agencies for the project comes at a critical time for the future of Governor Jerry Brown’s Delta Tunnels project, the California WaterFix. The two top officials at the Department of Water Resources are retiring on December 31, while the new Donald Trump, administration, filled with many controversial environmental appointees, will take the helm in Washington D.C. on January 21.

The document will be available at

According to a statement from Restore the Delta (RTD), “This document represents the agencies’ final attempt to convince state and federal regulators that their proposal for twin 40-foot, 30-mile long water tunnels to transfer Sacramento River water beneath the San Francisco Bay-Delta can meet environmental and water quality standards under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a feat no previous version of the proposal has achieved.”

“Despite any claims by project supporters, this document is by no means an approval of the proposal. It is akin to the submission of homework to be graded,” the group said.

As the Department and the Bureau jointly told the State Water Board at the end of November 2016, the environmental report cannot be finalized until a biological opinion is completed in March or April 2017. They told the Board they would finalize the report “at approximately the same time” as when the biological opinion is released, according to RTD.

“How thoughtful of Delta Tunnel lead agencies to dump this document on defenders of the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary just before the holidays. For comparison, an 80,000-page document is roughly 66 Bibles long,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta. “We will begin digging through the information, evaluating agency replies to public comments included in this document, engage in the process moving forward, and prepare for litigation if required.”

The 80,000-page document is being released as the Delta Tunnels plan faces increasing opposition from fishermen, Tribal leaders, conservationists, environmental justice advocates, scientists and elected officials because it would destroy West Coast salmon and other fish populations and devastate family farms and communities throughout the Delta.

The Water Fix is based on the absurd contention that taking up to 9,000 cubic feet per second of water from the Sacramento River at the new points of diversion, as requested in the petition by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to the State Water Resources Control Board, will somehow “restore” the Delta ecosystem.

I am not aware of a single project in US or world history where the construction of a project that takes more water out of a river or estuary has resulted in the restoration of that river or estuary.

You can read a transcript of my testimony before the State Water Resources Control Board: at:

Bill Croyle Named Acting Director of CA Department of Water Resources

Governor Jerry Brown has named Bill Croyle as the acting director of the Department of Water Resources, according to an internal memo from John Laird, the Secretary for Natural Resources of California, sent to DWR employees on December 13.

Croyle will replace Mark Cowin, who is retiring after 36 years with the agency, including nearly 7 years as DWR director. Croyle will assume his new position on January 1, 2017.

Mr. Croyle joined the Department in August of 2007 and served more than six years as Chief of Flood Operations, according to Laird. He is currently the Deputy Director for Emergency Preparedness and Security.

Before joining DWR, he worked for more than 23 years for the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board. Mr. Croyle is a registered professional engineer with a B.S. in civil engineering from California State University, Sacramento.

“Please join me in congratulating Bill and giving him full support in his new role,” said Laird to the DWR employees.

“My colleagues and I at the Natural Resources Agency also express gratitude to Mark Cowin, who retires December 31 after nearly seven years as director of DWR,” said Laird. “He started in the department’s Fresno office 36 years ago as a civil engineering graduate of Stanford University. Mark has served California well as a pragmatic, empathetic statesman in perennial water resources conflicts. His energy and talent have been crucial to the development of water policy – including the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and a $7.5 billion water bond — that will serve future Californians well.”

Laird said Cowin “will continue to serve the administration in an advisory role.”

Mike Jackson, legal counsel for the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN), responded to news of Croyle’s appointment by stating, “He is a dedicated public servant and will be very loyal to the department that he heads. I don’t seen much difference between him and Mark Cowin.”

Jackson did note that Croyle understands water quality better than most DWR employees. “Hopefully, his water quality experience will result in him telling the Governor about the terrible water quality problems that will be compounded by the California WaterFix,” said Jackson.

Carl Torgersen, the DWR Chief Deputy Director, will also be retiring from his position at the agency at the end of 2016. Who will replace him has not been made public yet.

Photo: The American River below Nimbus Dam on December 16. The American, a tributary of the Sacramento, is one of many rivers and streams imperiled by Governor Jerry Brown’s Delta Tunnels proposal. Photo by Dan Bacher.