California Delta Tunnels Don't Stand Up to Federal Analysis

Federal agencies think the proposed Bay Delta tunnels are still too dangerous for endangered species.

1 minute read

May 25, 2017, 9:00 AM PDT

By Elana Eden

Sacramento - San Joaquin River Delta

Jeffrey T. Kreulen / Shutterstock

Initial studies from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service do not project confidence in Governor Brown's signature water infrastructure proposal.

The California WaterFix project is a proposed overhaul of the state's water conveyance system, consisting of two large tunnels beneath the California Delta. An ongoing concern has been how tunnel operations might strain the regional ecosystem, particularly endangered species of salmon and smelt. The proposal has already been scaled back in an effort to reduce its environmental impact.

In late 2016, the state Department of Water Resources released a biological assessment concluding that the plan "minimized" potential harm to endangered species. 

The federal analyses released in March differed, finding that up to 7 percent of an endangered fish population could be killed by tunnel operations. Moreover, they suggested that the conservation measures proposed in the plan—restoring 15,000 acres of habitat—would not be sufficient to offset the damage.

In the Sacramento Bee, officials noted to Matt Weiser that the draft reports are not yet complete, and the tunnel proposal itself is still being revised.

Sunday, May 7, 2017 in The Sacramento Bee

View of small-town street with brick buildings and cars parked in diagonal parking with string lights going across street in Cleveland County, Oklahoma.

Norman, Oklahoma Eliminates Parking Mandates

The city made a subtle, one-word change that frees up developers to build parking based on actual need and eliminates costly unnecessary parking.

September 14, 2023 - Next City

Few passengers waiting in subway station with multiple platforms and "North Station" signs in Boston, Massachusetts

Boston Transit Riders Report Safety Concerns

Almost three-quarters of current and former riders report feeling unsafe while using MBTA services.

September 18, 2023 - Hoodline

View of Boston from Bunker Hill with statue in foreground

Boston to Begin Zoning Code Update, Mayor Announces

It’s been nearly 60 years, but the city of Boston is finally ready to do a comprehensive rewrite of its zoning code.

September 14, 2023 - The Boston Globe

Sidewalk in Seattle with yellow fall leaves on the ground and cars parked next to the curb.

Proposal Could Mandate Sidewalks as Part of Seattle Complete Streets

Almost a third of the city’s neighborhood streets lack sidewalks.

6 hours ago - The Urbanist

View of San Francisco neighborhood from top of hill with misty bay in background.

San Francisco Supervisors Punt Housing Ordinance

After hours of public comment, the zoning reform package aimed at increasing housing production and limiting red tape was delayed for further discussion.

September 24 - SF Standard

Woman wearing helmet riding POGOH bike share bike in bike lane in Pittsburgh, PA.

Pittsburgh Launches Adaptive Bike Share Fleet

The new bikes include a recumbent bicycle and a front-loading cargo bike.

September 24 - Pittsburgh Magazine