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Delta Deception
Let's review some recent West Coast tunnel history
Let's review some recent West Coast tunnel history
10 November 2016

Half-truths about California’s water system do not advance an informed public discussion. Communications that lack the proper context, omit details or distort data can lead to the wrong conclusion. The State Water Contractors launched the “Delta Deception” series to fill in the blanks with some ongoing discussions about California water supplies.

Today’s Delta Deception comes from a November 3 opinion editorial, “Delta Tunnel Planners Should Learn From Seattle's Expensive Goof,” by Conner Everts of the Southern California Watershed Alliance published on KCET’s website. In his op-ed, Everts states:

 “Let’s review some recent West Coast tunnel history."


Truth Be Told: Everts’ review omitted the most important chapter in that history, a new large water tunnel under San Francisco Bay that came in on time and on budget. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) did a series of upgrades to modernize and repair its Hetch Hetchy system that spans from Yosemite National Park to the Bay Area Peninsula. California WaterFix seeks to prevent water outages from earthquakes by transporting water supplies under the Delta in a new twin tunnel pipeline system. Likewise, the SFPUC looked to protect its supply by retiring an aging tunnel on the floor of southern San Francisco Bay and replacing it with a 15-foot tunnel

SFPUC’s tunnel upgrade is the most similar West Coast tunnel project to California WaterFix, both in terms of its purpose and the similar soil materials (sands and clays). But, regardless, Everts ignored the successful SFPUC project and focused on a tunnel project boring through urban infill material under Seattle. He also ignored the successful “Big Pipe” project in Portland that overhauled the city’s combined storm water and sewer system.

Around the world, other successful large tunnel projects include the Lee Tunnel project for stormwater upgrades in London, the Eurasia road tunnel project in Turkey, the Port of Miami tunnel project, the Queens Bored Tunnels in New York and the Clean Rivers Project in Washington, D.C.

To “review” recent West Coast tunnel history and omit most of it is simply deceiving.