Federal agencies greenlight proposed delta tunnel project

Federal fishery agencies pushed forward a controversial water project. (June 27, 2017)

Federal fishery agencies Monday pushed forward a controversial water project that would change the way Northern California supplies are sent to the Southland.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service concluded that the construction of new diversion points on the Sacramento River and two massive water tunnels would not jeopardize the existence of endangered species in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, which is the hub of California’s waterworks.

The release of the documents marks a major — but by no means final — step in the long, twisting path of the proposal, which has been in the planning stages for more than a decade.

Called biological opinions, the reviews analyze the project’s likely effects on endangered and threatened species, including the vanishing delta smelt, winter-run Chinook salmon and Central Valley steelhead.