More than 30 conservation groups are asking for more time to comment on the proposal to build two giant water diversion tunnels in the Delta.
In a letter dated Friday, the groups asked California officials to extend the public comment period on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, which is currently set to close June 13. The letter requests a minimum extension of 60 days.
The letter was submitted by the Environmental Water Caucus on behalf of 34 conservation groups struggling to comprehend the project’s complicated planning document and environmental impact study, which exceed 30,000 pages. Signatories range from the Karuk Indian tribe and Sierra Club to the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation.
The project, estimated to cost $25 billion, aims to re-engineer water diversions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and restore 100,000 acres of habitat. The most controversial component is two tunnels, 40 feet in diameter, that would divert a portion of the Sacramento River’s flow at three new intakes near Courtland.
The public comment period began on Dec. 13 after more than seven years of planning. The groups said they want more time because officials have yet to release an “implementation agreement,” which would spell out financial obligations and other responsibilities of the various water agencies that will benefit from the project.
The California Department of Water Resources is leading the project, and it has extended the public comment by 60 days once already.
“We’ve taken the request under consideration, but we haven’t made a decision yet on whether to extend the public comment period,” said DWR spokeswoman Nancy Vogel.
For more information on the project, visit: baydeltaconservationplan.com.
Call The Bee’s Matt Weiser at (916) 321-1264. Follow him on Twitter @matt_weiser.