I got up at 5:15 a.m. on Saturday morning with the idea of driving 100 miles to watch the sun rise over the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

I wanted to show my 84-year-old mom the beauty of one of California’s best-kept secrets. Maybe see some of the Delta’s magnificent sandhill cranes capable of flying up to 400 miles in a single day. But my real goal was to get a clearer perspective on the merit of building a single, 35-mile tunnel to provide a more reliable supply of water for generations of thirsty Californians.

What we got instead was a thick layer of fog. No cranes. No fish jumping. When we arrived in Courtland, we couldn’t even see the Sacramento River 50 yards in front of our noses. Nothing could have served as a better metaphor for the battle over the Delta’s murky future.

I’ve been wrestling with the question of whether the single-tunnel alternative would be in the state’s best interest for years. The issue moved to the front burner after Westlands Water District and the Santa Clara Valley Water District made it clear last month that they wanted no part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s massive, $17 billion twin-tunnel proposal.

Thank goodness. That was a bad idea from the beginning. A water grab of the worst kind that threatened to do further damage to the fragile Delta and the quality of the fresh water supply that the Bay Area depends on.

The governor still hasn’t completely given up on his twin tunnels. But he has indicated a willingness to back a single-tunnel project as an alternative, which is welcome news.

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Brown may be the only person in California with the knowledge, power and political savvy to put together a deal that will secure the state’s water needs for generations to come. It’s a shame that he only has one year left in office to make a single-tunnel project work.

The beauty of a single tunnel is that it reduces costs by billions of dollars. The savings could be invested in reinforcing Delta levees, increasing water recycling and developing additional storage. The result would deliver more water at a cheaper price while also protecting the health of the Delta.

It won’t be easy.

One of the chief complications is the need for the governor and water agencies to work …read more

Source:: East Bay – Science

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Clendaniel: Governor could still solve Delta’s water woes with single-tunnel deal

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