Bay Delta Conservation Plan

Voters are suspicious of another potential megaproject boondoggle, but boosters persist

After years of planning, state officials released the Bay Delta plan on Dec. 9. The plan calls for spending $24.75 billion to stabilize water deliveries to agricultural and municipal users while protecting the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta environment. The centerpiece, which would cost $16 billion, consists of three additional water intakes at the delta's north end, two 30-mile water-conveyance tunnels and numerous gate and forebay facilities. The twin 40-ft-dia water tunnels would be bored 150 ft below ground and convey up to 9,000 cu ft per second.

The 9,000-page Bay Delta plan, which has a 25,000-page environmental impact report, is out for public comment through April. Critics claim the project is underfunded and unsustainable. The plan "isn't a magic bullet," says Beau Goldie, CEO of the Santa Clara Valley Water District, which gets more than half its water from the Delta. But "we must also reflect on the costs of doing something different and the costs of doing nothing."