Sensible Water Management in California

Sierra Club California’s Smart Water Alternatives
To The Bay Delta Conveyance Project




Since passage of legislation in 2009, California’s water policy debate has been dominated by the controversy over a proposed tunnel that would divert water from the Sacramento River around the San Francisco Bay Delta for export south. It would accelerate the decline of the largest estuary on the West Coast of the northern hemisphere, a key component in the state’s fishing industry and rich wildlife biodiversity. It would do nothing to reverse the damage related to the flow change created by the existing Tracy pumps. It recycles an old idea voters rejected decades ago, during an earlier Brown administration, when they rejected the Peripheral Canal and will burden Californians statewide with the financial and environmental impacts of an unnecessary and costly construction project that ultimately won’t fix the state’s water problems. The Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the most recent tunnel proposal was released in late July 2022.

The Sierra Club opposes the proposed Delta Conveyance/Tunnel. Instead, we believe Californians should pursue a range of strategies that together will sustainably meet water needs while protecting the environment. With this document, Sierra Club California presents alternatives to the Delta Conveyance proposal. The list of alternatives in this document demonstrates that there are reasonable ways to meet California’s water demand without diverting more water from the Delta.

Potential Water Savings/Additional Supplies from a Portfolio of Resilient Strategies

Resource Strategy

Water Savings/Supplies (million acre-feet/year)

Agricultural Water Use Efficiency

5.6 - 6.6

Urban Water Use Efficiency

 2.0 - 3.1

Recycled Municipal Water

1.8  - 2.1

Stormwater Capture

0.5 - 3.0

Groundwater Storage and Conjunctive Management*

0.5 - 2.0


10.4 - 16.8

 Note: This table has been compiled from a 2022 analysis by the Pacific Institute and 2016 analysis by the Department of Water Resources (DWR).