The consensus diagnosis for the Delta estuary is dire. The California Environmental Water Caucus prescribes more river flows and reduced fresh water exports to help the Delta recover. The EWC’s plan demonstrates how water supply reliability can be improved while reducing exports from the Bay Delta Estuary. Many of our recommendations have been presented to the Delta Stewardship Council as part of Alternative 2 for the Delta Plan.
We have now packaged this series of related actions into a single alternative for evaluation in any future NEPA or CEQA evaluations, or by the State Water Resources Control Board. The actions are largely based on the EWC report California Water Solutions Now, (www.ewccalifornia.org), which can be referenced for supporting details. This package of actions (“The RX Plan”) represents the EWC alternative to the BDCP.
The RX Plan includes a unique combination of actions that will open the discussion for alternatives to the currently failed policies which continuously attempt to use water as though it were a limitless resource. The RX Plan is about far more than just reduced exports. The uniqueness of this Plan is that while it will reduce the quantity of water exported from the Bay Delta Estuary, in order to protect the health of the Estuary’s habitat and fisheries with increased inflows and outflows, it also contains actions that will reduce the demand for water and increase supplies for exporters south of the Delta in order to compensate for the reduced south-of-Delta exports.
It is the only extant plan that will modernize existing facilities in the Bay-Delta with improved fish screens at the South Delta, levees reinforced above the PL84-99 standard, and significantly increased flows in order to recover habitat and fish stocks, while avoiding the huge infrastructure costs of tunnels under the Delta. It will also provide increased self-reliance for south-of-Delta water users through inter-regional water transfers and south of Delta groundwater storage. The reinforced levees will provide increased reliability of the water supplies through the Delta. And it will accomplish the legislated goals of Estuary restoration and water reliability for billions of dollars less than currently contemplated plans.