Sacramento’s Proposed Delta Water Tunnels

At Ace, water supply and quality are always of interest to us. As most area residents are aware, California governor, Jerry Brown, has proposed a Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) that impacts Sacramento supply. This plan proposes to build two diversion tunnels with three instakes near highway 160 that will pipe water to Southern California. 

In late May, the Delta Protection Commission voted to oppose the plan. There are many Sacramento residents that agree with DPC opposition and believe that this is not a healthy proposition for their region or the state. So what’s at stake?

Estimated Construction Costs

The estimated cost for the highway reconstruction is $75 million, and plumbing costs are estimated at $14 billion. BDCP advocates propose that the money to pay for the project would come from issuing bonds and repayment of the debt would be passed to the southern beneficiaries of the water in the form of higher water rates.

Plan Intent

The BDCP has been in the making for over seven years as government tries to find solutions for state-wide water shortages—a valuable resource the Delta seems to have in abundance. The proposal is intended to help protect the dwindling freshwater fish and restore an additional 100,000 acres of habitat in the area.

Negative Impacts Of Water Diversion Project To Sacramento County

The proposal promises to pass the costs to the water recipients down south although there are concerns that the residents along Highway 160 could face years of disruption on a critical route farmers take to get their products to market. The region also garners significant amounts of tourism dollars from the scenic paths that the highway currently takes; it’s possible this cash flow could dry up as well. Many predict that disruptions from the construction efforts would span the course of a decade at least.

Sacramento residents are not just concerned with the inconvenience and loss of business that a construction effort like this would cause. They pragmatically point out that there is no extra water to spare for their southern desert neighbors. If one diverts water from Northern California rivers, what water source will replace the diverted supply needed for their own farmlands.

Worst case scenarios swirl around the region that the county could end up buying their own water back from their southern neighbors at high rates once their resources are consumed and drained away.

More Information Needed

Opposition feels that the BDCP proposal is incomplete and needs a cost benefit analysis done by an independent party. Stating it does not currently possess the qualities of a comprehensive state water management plan that is beneficial to all. For instance, reports about the proposal do not include policies for state wide water treatment and reclamation. The Delta Protection Commission feels that not enough has been done to explore alternative options.

The proposed plan looks as if Southern California will continue to garner water from the north, treat the water, and reclaim it while still receiving continuous supply from the Delta. The fear is that the extra water received by the south would spur building projects and growth there which would further strain the state’s resources.

State Environmental Concerns

The ecological impacts to the Sacramento region and the state are many. The Delta and its waters are home to various types of aquatic life. It is possible that drastically changing the Delta water levels endanger the fish that make their home there.

As a Sacramento plumbing company and residents of the region, we will watch to see what happens next with the proposal. We hope that the government and area citizens are able to execute a plan best for the land and residents overall. 

Image credit: © Mauro Marini |