State withdraws twin tunnel WaterFix approvals, initiates planning, permitting for smaller single tunnel

Photo: CA Dep’t of Water Resources

SACRAMENTO – The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today is taking formal steps to withdraw proposed permits for the WaterFix project and begin a renewed environmental review and planning process for a smaller, single tunnel project that will protect a critical source of water supplies for California.

Today’s actions implement Governor Gavin Newsom’s direction earlier this year to modernize the state’s water delivery infrastructure by pursuing a smaller, single tunnel project through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The project is needed to protect water supplies from sea-level rise and saltwater intrusion into the Delta, as well as earthquake risk. It will be designed to protect water supply reliability while limiting impacts on local Delta communities and fish.

This action follows the Governor’s recent executive order directing state agencies to develop a comprehensive statewide strategy to build a climate-resilient water system.

“A smaller project, coordinated with a wide variety of actions to strengthen existing levee protections, protect Delta water quality, recharge depleted groundwater reserves, and strengthen local water supplies across the state, will build California’s water supply resilience,” said Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot.

DWR Director Karla Nemeth took action today to rescind various permitting applications for the WaterFix project, including those in front of the State Water Resources Control Board, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and federal agencies responsible for compliance with the Endangered Species Act. Documents related to these actions are available here.

DWR will work with local public water agencies that are partners in the conveyance project to incorporate the latest science and innovation to design the new conveyance project, and work with Delta communities and other stakeholders to limit local impacts of the project.

Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay), co-chair of the California Delta Legislative Caucus, issued the following statement today after the state Department of Water Resources officially withdrew its permit application to build the twin tunnels.

“It’s very encouraging that after all these years we are finally being heard by the Governor’s Office. The withdrawal of the permit application acknowledges that alternative solutions have been either overlooked or ignored. I look forward to working with the Governor and Secretary Crowfoot to build a comprehensive water plan that is a benefit for all Californians.”

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