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Thursday
Mar012012

POLITICS/ENVIRONMENT: California Resources Agency, release of Bay Delta Conservation Plan, proposal for tunneling under the delta, water from Sacramento River to be diverted into the tunnels.... 

* San Francisco Chronicle:  "Calif. delta tunnel plan would increase pumping" - From the Chronicle:

   The amount of water pumped out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta would significantly increase and some species would be harmed if massive tunnels are built to move water around the fragile ecosystem, according to thousands of pages of documents released by state officials Wednesday. Additionally, more than 110,000 acres of fish and wildlife habitat would be created in the delta, representing the largest habitat restoration in state history. Officials stressed that the plan is preliminary and that they expect significant changes before it becomes final.

   John Laird, secretary of the California Resources Agency, said the unusual early public release of as many as 10,000 pages of documents was meant to elicit input to further refine the proposal. "This is a starting point for what we might actually do for the delta," Laird said.

   The documents are part of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, which is a 50-year effort to restore the delta ecosystem, which provides water for 25 million Californians in the Bay Area and Southern California and to farmers in the Central Valley. The state released major pieces of the working draft of the plan, along with preliminary chapters of environmental impact documents that must win approval of state and local agencies before the multibillion-dollar project can be built.

   State officials hope to have a final version of the plan by the end of the year. Envisioned in the documents released Wednesday is a project that would consist of two large tunnels constructed south of Sacramento and under the delta . . . . .

   Water from the Sacramento River would be diverted into the tunnels, instead of flowing through the delta to the pumps, as it does today. The entire plan will cost an estimated $25 billion, with the construction of the project estimated at around $13 billion. Construction costs would be paid by customers of water agencies that benefit from the project, including some in Alameda and Santa Clara counties................

***ALSO, Sacramento Bee:  "Bay Delta water diversion plan could harm fish temporarily, state analysis says"