WaterFix Is Dead. Now We Can Work for Sustainable Solutions.

Today, the State of California announced that they are withdrawing the permits and applications for the California WaterFix project and taking a fresh look at designing a single Delta tunnel project. WaterFix, the multi-billion dollar proposal to construct two massive tunnels and take even more water from the Bay Delta, would have devastated the health of the Bay-Delta estuary and the thousands of Delta farmers and salmon fishermen that depend on its health. We look forward to working with the Newsom Administration in an open and transparent process to consider a single tunnel conveyance project. I believe that a single tunnel could be part of a Portfolio Approach that takes less water from the Delta and makes significant investments in local and regional water supply projects.

Aerial View of the Bay-Delta, 2009

Paul Hames / California Department of Water Resources

Today’s announcement is a tremendous victory for the Delta communities, fishermen, conservation groups, and citizens around the state that have risen up over the last decade to take a stand against the California WaterFix project, in order to protect the health of the Bay-Delta estuary. It’s important to take a moment to recognize that this would not have happened but for the thousands of people who have spoken out against the project and in favor of sustainable water solutions, who have signed letters, filed lawsuits, and encouraged political leaders to find a different way.

Withdrawing these permits appears to mark the successful end of the fight against the WaterFix project. Now, the focus shifts to working with the Newsom Administration on sustainable water solutions. California has an Untapped Potential of sustainable local and regional water supply projects that will enable us to protect the economy and environment, even as we divert less water from the fragile estuary.

More than six years ago NRDC, water districts, and other conservation groups proposed a Portfolio Alternative for the Bay-Delta. Unfortunately, the Brown Administration rejected our coalition’s request to simply study this proposal, which included a single tunnel under the Delta, new storage South of the Delta, significant investments in local and regional water supplies, and protective operating rules that would significantly reduce water diversions from this fragile estuary. Today’s announcement, in combination with the Governor’s Executive Order earlier this week, takes us one step closer to this vision.

Thank you, Governor Newsom.

About the Authors

Doug Obegi

Director, California River Restoration, Water Division, Nature Program

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