On Wednesday, April 22, 2020, the Delta tunnel Stakeholder Engagement Committee (SEC) met to consider the design for the Southern Forebay proposed by the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority. Prior to the meeting, several Stakeholder Engagement Committee members had written to the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority, requesting postponement of further SEC meetings until Governor Newsom’s shelter in place order is lifted.
Many SEC members spoke out strongly at the beginning of the SEC meeting, requesting that future meetings be postponed until Delta residents could engage on the project design. The members were told by DCA Executive Director Kathryn Mallon that “the due date is not moving.” Mallon said that the Stakeholder Engagement Committee members could choose to not meet, but if so, they would simply lose the opportunity to have any input into the project design.
Carrie Buckman, DWR’s Environmental Program Manager, gave an exceedingly vague explanation, stating that “we are trying to move this forward in an expedient manner …. because we want to continue this planning effort.”
It is clear that the real driver of the rigid deadlines is the engineering design schedule for the single tunnel project. The engineering design schedule is based on having a final engineering design by the end of FY 2021-22, the original deadline for the twin tunnels project final engineering design.
Below is the current status of the engineering design schedule, from Executive Director Kathryn Mallon’s Report in the April 16, 2020 DCA Board meeting packet, p. 37. Mallon’s report states that the DCA is four weeks behind based on deliverable status, and that “the engineering team has ramped up their resources and will continue recovering the time in the upcoming month.”
The Conceptual Engineering Report is scheduled to be finished by the end of September, with the conceptual tunnel and shaft design finished in May, the conceptual design of the intakes and pumping plant in August, and the South Delta forebay and conveyance to Banks pumping plant in September.
The engineering schedule is basically the same as the original WaterFix / twin tunnels engineering design schedule. Below is the 2018 WaterFix project engineering / construction schedule from the January 2018 edition of Tunnel Talk Magazine. Only the land acquisition, utilities and site work, and construction activities have been paused.
Year 1 – 2018 – Requests for Qualifications (RFQs) and leadership staffing
Year 2 — 2019 — Engineering design and field work contracts signed, preliminary engineering
Year 3 — 2020 — Preliminary engineering
Year 4 — 2021 — Intakes and pumping plant design finished
Year 5 — 2022 — Final engineering design
There is no room in this schedule for the COVID-19 pandemic.