SACRAMENTO (KCBS / AP) – California water officials are proposing changes to a multibillion dollar plan involving two water diversion tunnels for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

The changes were unveiled on Thursday, with Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin quoted in published reports as hopeful the planned changes show officials are serious about doing their best to reduce impacts to Delta residents.

The proposals include moving the tunnels farther east, away from two towns, and reducing the size of a water storage reservoir from 750 acres to somewhere between 10 and 40 acres.

More of the dirt and chemicals removed while drilling the tunnels would also be deposited on state-owned land as opposed to private land.

“The construction impacts don’t involve the entire Delta, they don’t last forever and they can be mitigated,” stressed California National Resources Secretary John Laird, who added that his agency is working hard to address the concerns of Delta residents. “Clearly people in the Delta would be impacted by this project but we’ll take every legally allowable step to mitigate the impacts.”

Critics contend it’s still a flawed project.

“The Delta’s in crisis because thirty years of excessive water exports have damaged fisheries and have had a negative impact on water quality for farms,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parilla, executive director of Restore the Delta.

“What else hasn’t been considered or looked at is when you de-water the Delta, you de-water the San Francisco Bay,” she said. “And, what is the impact going to be on the crab fishery, the coastal salmon fishery?”

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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