California water tunnel plan violates environmental rules

The plan of California government to draw two water tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has been facing obstacles from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), report Reuters.

EPA is claiming that the plan may violate federal Clean Water Act, degrading the ecosystem of the delta further.

The verdict is a setback for the $25 billion water project to divert water from the Sacramento River above the delta, through underground tunnels from San Jose to San Diego, says the news report.

The tunnels were proposed as part of a Bay Delta Conservation Plan, which would create approx. 150,000 acres of wetlands to offset the environmental damage caused by the construction of tunnels.

The EPA is in support of the water project, but it has warned that diverting water around the delta will increase the amount of naturally produced toxins, salts and pesticides in the creek, destroying the ecosystem.

Besides, EPA has warned that the move will result in violations of Clean Water Act water quality standards.

Another concern expressed by EPA is that the project will harm the fish species, including the pinky-sized delta smelt, whose reduction in numbers cause water scarcity in Californian farms, according to the news agency.

The EPA warning confirms the fears about ecosystem and community imbalance. It is time to consider other options, excluding tunnels for delta restoration, said, Lois Wolk, democratic state senator.

There are many other options to mitigate any damages. No movements are going to be fatal for the project, said, Gerald Meral, former secretary of California Natural Resources Agency, in charge of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.

Recently, the Department of Water Resources planned to delay finalizing the 40,000-page draft of the water project. The state plans to release an updated draft by early next year.

[email protected]