California Water-Fix Could Result in Taking of Farmland

Fri Sep 4th, On Environmental Law, by

The DCE (short for Delta Conveyance Facilities Design and Construction Enterprise), a private-contractor group embedded within the state Department of Water Resources, has determined it will be necessary to acquire 300 farms by eminent domain in order to construct two tunnels, each 40 feet wide and 35 miles long. They would take water from the Sacramento River north of Sacramento and move it under the Delta to state and federal pumps in Tracy to the State Water Project and to the federal Central Valley Project. The intakes to the pumps will be moved north, reducing reliance on larger pumps that kill fish and disrupt the flow of the delta.

The landowners subject to the eminent domain actions will have 30 days to negotiate an offer with the state before it is taken by forced sale. Landowners in Sacramento San Joaquin, Contra Costa and Alameda are potential targets of the eminent domain. Plans have been made to acquire the land and right of way through eminent domain, by the Delta Conveyance Facilities Design and Construction Enterprise (DCE). DCE is a private contractor employed by the state Department of Water Resources to work on the proposed tunnels.

The delta is located at the juncture of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers and is the largest estuary on the West Coast. The proposed tunnels in the California Water Fix proposal would be 40 feet wide and 35 miles long from Elk Grove south of Sacramento continuing south to Clifton Court Forebay. The tunnels will be dug 150 feet below ground and will bypass the Delta to divert fresh water from the Sacramento River to existing water-export pumps to canals heading south. The beneficiaries of the tunnels include the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which serves 17 million people, as well as farms and businesses.

It is likely that water agencies will pay for the property acquisition as part of California Water-Fix.

California WaterFix and California EcoRestore are two separate efforts reflected in Alternative 4A as the State of California’s proposed water project to fulfill the requirement of the 2009 Delta Reform Act. California WaterFix is the conveyance facilities, including the two tunnels. California EcoRestore is the habitat restoration measures needed to restore the delta habitat ecosystem.

The comment period for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan/California WaterFix Partially Recirculated Draft Environmental Impact Report/Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (RDEIR/SDEIS) has been extended to October 30, 2015.

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