Twin Tunnels plan in Sacramento Delta is dead. Good.

Sacramento River. Twin Tunnels area
Sacramento River Delta Credit: SacramentoRiverDelta.net

CA Governor Gavin Newsom has officially killed the Twin Tunnels plan to sluice enormous amounts of water from the Sacramento Delta to the Central Valley and Southern California. Good. The plan was always an expensive boondoggle that would have put even more stress on the Sacramento Delta and its fish.

The plan never treated the Delta fairly. It was always a ploy to grab water from the north and send it south. Previous governor Jerry Brown was all for the twin tunnels. Newsom withdrew permit applications, which stops the project.

Instead, California will focus on a much more modest one tunnel plan, recharging groundwater, building local water reserves statewide, and, yes, protecting the Delta, which is something Jerry Brown had no interest in doing.

Such a scaled-back project could cost roughly $10 billion, according to estimates done by the state and water agencies last year. The decision was largely a victory for environmental groups and Delta political leaders, and a setback for Los Angeles water officials who had supported the plan and promised to pay for most of it.

“It’s great to hear the destructive Delta twin tunnels project has been abandoned,” said Jeff Miller, a senior conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity. “California should focus on restoring the vital Delta ecosystem and its native fish instead of diverting more water.”

Los Angeles water officials, who were unhappy with Newsom’s move, were stoic Thursday.

“The status quo in the Delta is simply not an option,” said Jeff Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which has 19 million customers. “New conveyance is essential. The current system is already outdated and vulnerable; climate change will further stress it with a future of sea level rise and increasingly intense floods and droughts.”