Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
The Manteca City Council has expressed concern that the Bay Delta Conservation Plan’s “twin tunnel” scenario could endanger the city’s existing water rights (“Manteca leaders: Twin tunnels put water in jeopardy,” June 26). This fear arises in part from a common misperception: that the tunnels are intended to increase the amount of water sent to points south of the Delta. In reality, the tunnels are aimed at simply restoring a consistent flow of water that answers the needs of the system’s many stakeholders.
The plan seeks to stabilize water supplies to the average annual level established over the recent past. Water deliveries will vary based on conditions, carrying more water in high-flow years so that diversions can be reduced in dry periods. The plan preserves San Joaquin Valley agriculture by creating a more reliable and secure supply.
The plan would not affect water rights. Guided by the latest scientific data and fishery experts, the plan calls for large-scale creation of tidal wetlands, riverside forest, submerged floodplain, and other kinds of places where fish and wildlife can feed and shelter. Should additional flows be needed to augment habitat restoration flows could be augmented through voluntary purchases from upstream agencies willing to sell water.
Water diversions would be governed based on existing water rights. Rules governing the timing and volume of diversions through new pumping plants would be enforced by federal and state fisheries protection and regulatory agencies. Total export levels would be tied to the achievement of numerous, specific biological goals and objectives for threatened fish species, and would respect local water rights.
The plan acknowledges and respects California’s water right priority system, as well as state and federal laws relating to the areas of origin. These laws provide assurances that water supplies will be reserved to meet future demand in those areas where water originates.
Bay Delta Conservation Plan