Sept. 6, 2012 Peripheral Tunnel Plan Details Released at Public Meeting
Written By: Dan Bacher, September 7, 2012
The California Natural Resources Agency on August 29 held the first public meeting of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan in Sacramento since the Governor announced his controversial plan to build the peripheral tunnels on July 25.
Jerry Meral, the Deputy Resources Secretary, began the meeting by emphasizing that although the state and federal governments had chosen a preferred project, “there are still a lot of steps that the project must go through.”
Meral updated the joint agreement announced by Governor Jerry Brown and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in late July, reiterating and expanding upon many of the points announced in the press conference.
Meral said the “preferred project” is Alternative 4, with a reduced conveyance size of 9,000 cfs and a reduction of the number of intakes from 5 to 3.
”The project is based on a gravity flow designed to maximize energy efficiency and minimize environmental impacts,” said Meral. “The tunnels have to be larger because the water is not pumped through a powerhouse.”
He said though no specific size for the diameter of the tunnels has been chosen yet, it would probably be a range of 33 to 35 feet. The energy costs have also been reduced from 250 mw to 50 mw with the gravity fed tunnels.
He also claimed the revised project addressed a number of key biological issues. According to Meral, the revised project:
•Addresses upstream temperature and flow concerns
•Reduces South Delta entrainment for all species
• Increases Delta outflow in the spring
• Reduces the construction and operation effects of the North Delta intakes
• Includes “decision trees.”
Meral claimed that by choosing 3 diversions over the original 5, they are trying to avoid the construction and operation effects of the North Delta intakes, as well as addressing the impacts on the Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge