For Immediate Release, October 29, 2020


Kathryn Phillips, Sierra Club California, (916) 893-8494,
John Buse, Center for Biological Diversity, (323) 533-4416,

Lawsuit Challenges California’s $16 Billion Move to Fund Delta Tunnel Project

Revenue Bonds Would Lock in Funding Before Any Environmental Review

SACRAMENTO, Calif.— Five environmental groups sued the California Department of Water Resources today for adopting a resolution approving the issuance of the Delta Program Revenue Bonds.

The bonds could raise $16 billion, or more, for planning and building the massive Delta tunnel project, which would divert billions of gallons of water from the environmentally sensitive San Joaquin Delta and convey it south. The project is the Newsom administration’s proposed replacement for the twin-tunnel California WaterFix project.

Today’s lawsuit, filed in state court in Sacramento by the Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, Planning and Conservation League, Restore the Delta and Friends of Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, challenges the department’s approval of Delta tunnel funding without first conducting any review under the California Environmental Quality Act.

“The single tunnel project would have devastating consequences for the Delta,” said Bob Wright, an attorney for the Sierra Club. “The state can’t afford to continue throwing money away on this unsustainable pipe dream.”

The Department announced the single-tunnel version of the Delta tunnel project in January 2020, having abandoned the twin-tunnel proposal in 2019. The current project would siphon water from the Sacramento River before it passes through the Delta, wreaking ecological and economic havoc. The project could significantly decrease the fresh water flowing through the Delta, harming farming communities, native fish and the ecosystem’s overall health.

“It’s outrageous that California officials would commit funds for this massively harmful water tunnel without public engagement or environmental review,” said John Buse, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This boondoggle will destroy the Delta ecosystem in a desperate attempt to continue unsustainable water use in Central and Southern California.”

The environmental groups also filed an answer to the Department’s complaint for validation, an action that seeks to confirm the legality of the bond issuance.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.