The delta tunnels — a project only engineers can love
http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-leslie-costs-and-benefits-delta-tunnel-20161120-story.html By Jacques Leslie, Los Angeles Times
A generation ago the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta tunnel project might have made a certain kind of sense. California’s lakes and rivers had been so thoroughly replumbed by dams, drains, pumps, canals and aqueducts that the state already contained the world’s most engineered water system — so why not add one more megaproject to the labyrinth?
Water from the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers flows into the delta, where some of it is directed into pumps that send it south to farmers on the San Joaquin Valley’s west side and to municipal users in Southern California. The tunnel project, known as California WaterFix, is the latest rendition of proposals dating back to the 1940s to divert Sacramento River water south before it reaches the environmentally ravaged delta. The WaterFix calls for a pair of 35-mile-long, 40-foot-diameter tunnels to be installed as much as 150 feet below ground, starting at Clarksburg and leading to the state aqueduct near Tracy.
The tunnels’ planners hope to increase water deliveries south by avoiding the delta and restrictions meant in part to protect fish that get caught in the current pumping system. But as the project has evolved . . . Read More