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A Real Halloween Horror Show: Jerry Brown’s Delta Death Tunnels

by Dan Bacher

The real-life horror show of Governor Jerry Brown’s Delta Tunnels Plan keeps revealing its deadly surprises as the public comment period for the California Water Fix draws to a close on Friday, October 30.

Like an evil vampire that you just can’t seem to kill, the Delta-destroying tunnels plan keeps coming back.

The voters overwhelmingly defeated the water-sucking and fish-exterminating vampire project, originally known as the Peripheral Canal, in November 1982.

However, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger resurrected the undead project from its electoral tomb starting 2007 under new, less scary-sounding names – the Delta Vision Plan and the Bay Delta Conservation Plan – and did everything he could push the plan through without allowing the voters to vote, including pressuring the Legislation to pass a water policy/water bond package that facilitated the construction of the tunnels in 2009.

Jerry Brown embraced the water-guzzling vampire project of Schwarzenegger’s as his own “legacy” when he entered his third term as Governor in January 2015 – and in fact fast-tracked the project. However, after the scientists from Environmental Protection Agency, Delta Independent Science Board, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Academy of Sciences and every science panel examining the project issued scathing reports revealing how the tunnels could hasten the extinction of Central Valley salmon and steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, the Brown and Obama administrations resurrected the conveyance plan as the “California Water Fix” – and stripped the “habitat restoration” component out of the plan to become the “Eco Restore” proposal.

In addition to hastening the extinction of Central Valley steelhead and salmon and other species, the deadly project will imperil the salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

New horrors unveiled: Kern County Water Agency demands unlimited water without restrictions! 

Every week its seems that new horrors about the Delta-killing nature of the tunnels plan are revealed- and that was the case yesterday when Restore the Delta (RTD) exposed a new document that reveals the true goals of the Kern County Water Agency – “unlimited water, on demand, with few environmental restrictions.”

If that it isn’t scary at a time when winter salmon, Delta smelt and longfin and other imperiled fish species are getting closer and closer to the dark abyss of extinction, I don’t know what is!

“In their drafted public comments letter on the Recirculated EIR/S for the Delta Tunnels, the Kern County Water Agency (KWCA) reveals the true goals of agricultural water exporters — unlimited water supplies, even if it violates federal Endangered Species and Clean Water Acts,” according to a statement from RTD.

In the letter KWCA declares appreciation for this revised draft because they believe it is “an important” first step toward creating a workable solution for their agency. Yet, they still want more; otherwise, the project is not “economically feasible.”

The letter reveals their goals: greater deliveries for the State Water Project and allowing for “adaptive management” with limited adjustments to the water supply of the project, RTD stated.

“Their demands are clear: Proposition 1 money to be used for water purchases (never mind that Prop 1 claimed no such thing would happen); no limits on supply to the State Water Project or the Central Valley Project during spring months (regardless of Delta fishery needs or Federal ESA protections),” said RTD.

The letter concludes:

“Finally, in addition to revising the operational criteria, the Agency requests that the description of the alternatives in the RDEIR/SDEIS be revised to clarify that the spring outflow criteria will be satisfied in accordance with the following hierarchy:

a. Available State and federal public funding will be used to purchase water necessary for spring outflow (e.g., through Proposition 1 funding).

b. State and federal agencies will attempt to obtain additional water to satisfy the spring outflow criteria if it becomes available.

c. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service will include spring outflow requirements in their permitting decisions on all issues related to water in the Delta watershed.

d. All other available sources of water will be considered by the Real Time Operations and/or Adaptive Management Program teams prior to reducing SWP and Central Valley Project (CVP) exports.

e. Water should be made available by the SWP and CVP only in amounts determined to be necessary by the Real Time Operations and/or Adaptive Management Program processes.

f. No spring outflow contributions should be required from the SWP or CVP for the first 10 years of Project operations.” 

Page 124 — http://www.kcwa.com/public/documents/PublicBoardPacket.pdf
User Name: publicuser
Password: kcwa1234

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta, slammed the KCWA for demanding a project that “defies both nature and the law.”

“It also exposes the big lie that BDCP officials and Governor Brown’s office have used to mollify San Francisco Bay-Delta residents and fishing communities who depend on a healthy Delta ecosystem,” she said. “Tunnel proponents like BDCP Director Jerry Meral, DWR Director Mark Cowin, Resources Secretary John Laird, Fish and Wildlife Director Chuck Bonham, and California Water Fix Director Karla Nemeth have stated on numerous occasions that the project would not increase the total water exports from the Delta, it would simply rebalance where the water is being drawn from and the timing of exports, in a way that protects the Delta.”

She said the Kern County Water Association comment destroys that talking point and reveals what Dr. Jeff Michael from the University of the Pacific has pointed out repeatedly — the project is not cost effective for farmers without guaranteed water supply.

“The KCWA wants all the water they can use, delivered on their schedule, even if it pushes protected species like the Central Valley Spring-run Chinook Salmon to extinction, or causes salt-water intrusion or toxic buildup in the Delta, in violation of the federal Clean Water Act,” noted Barrigan-Parrilla.

“Californians were told the Delta Tunnels will meet the co-equal goals of the Delta Reform Act of 2009, to provide a more reliable water supply for California AND protect, restore, and enhance the Delta ecosystem,” she concluded. “Sadly, this letter confirms what we have always suspected. The Tunnels are simply a water grab by Big Ag in the Southern San Joaquin Valley. To get what they want, they are willing to sacrifice the San Francisco Bay-Delta, its residents, farmers, and endangered species.”

Take Action Against This Vampire Project NOW!

Everybody who cares about West Coast salmon fisheries, the Bay-Delta Estuary and ocean ecosystem, the public trust, Delta and Sacramento Valley farming, environmental justice, Tribal water rights, fair water rates for Southern California ratepayers and future of California must help drive a stake into Jerry Brown’s vampire plan by taking action!

We don’t want the zombie-like advocates of the Governor’s tunnels plan to convert the Bay Delta Estuary into a fish and wildlife graveyard! It doesn’t get any scarier than that!

If you haven’t already, you should sign the Restore the Delta petition at Change.org:
Click here to sign petition

The petition letter outlines three objections to the Tunnels plan for officials based on 1) environmental, 2) public health, and 3) economic concerns. It also encourages investment in shovel-ready water projects that will bring jobs and sustainability to California.

If you have more time, I highly recommend writing a letter based your experience and expertise:http://restorethedelta.org/take-action-oppose-the-delta-tunnels/

Also, on the final day of public comments for the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed Delta Tunnels, a coalition of fishermen, environmentalists, residents, and elected officials will reveal why the Delta Tunnels (BDCP/WaterFix) would be an “ecological and economic disaster for California.”

The press conference will take place on the North Side, of the State Capitol in Sacramento on Friday, October 30, 2015 at 11:00 am. Tunnels opponents are encouraged to attend.

Speakers include State Senator Cathleen Galgiani; Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman; Conner Everts, Environmental Water Coalition; Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta; Bob Wright, Friends of the River; Tim Sloane, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations; Esperanza Vielma, Café Coop; and Ryan Camero, Delta Activist, 2015 Brower Youth Award Winner.

For more information, click here