Delta Tunnels: Three Experts Worth Hearing

Our media release for today and, in case you missed it, two great op-eds in the Contra Costa Times and the Sacramento Bee, one by Contra Costa County Supervisor Mary N. Piepho and the other by Raul Grijalva calling out latino front groups by Westlands Water District.

For Immediate Release: Feb 9, 2016
Contact: Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta 209-479-2053, [email protected]

Three Emerging Issues, Three Experts Worth Hearing

Stockton, CA – In a letter sent last week to the Santa Clara Valley Water District, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta, recommended the inclusion of three independent experts to appear before the Board to assist them in their consideration of continued financial support for the Delta Tunnels (California WaterFix). The three experts Barrigan-Parrilla recommends are:
 –  Jeffrey Michael Ph.D., Director of the Center for Business and Policy Research, University of the Pacific – On the Cost vs. Economic Benefit of the Tunnels Plan
In a recent op-ed in the Sacramento Bee, Cost of Delta tunnels doesn’t add up, Dr. Michael said:…the economic benefits of the tunnels to the water exporters total about $5 billion of its $15 billion cost, and the benefit-cost ratio is even worse when the negative impacts to the Delta and risks to the environment and upstream interests are considered.”

In his blog Valley Economy, Dr. Michael has tracked the economics of the BDCP/WaterFix/Delta Tunnels for years and finds that each new version of the plan seems to reduce economic benefits for water exporters, Bay-Delta residents, the environment, and the state as a whole.
Christina (Tina) Swanson Ph.D., Director of the Science Center at Natural Resources Defense Council on the Sacramento River Watershed and Climate Change
At a 2015 State Legislative hearing on the Tunnels, Swanson explained, “The Sacramento River Basin is the area projected to be more effected by climate change with regard to loss of snowpack and volatility of water supply.” [We need to fully examine what effects climate change has on] “the year-to-year reliability of the water supply available for export from the Delta.”
Dr. Swanson is also an expert on fresh water needs for a healthy San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary.
– John Herrick, Counsel and General Manager of the South Delta Water Agency on the lack of “full model runs” in the Tunnels DEIR/DEIS
In a February 2, 2016 letter to the State Water Resources Control Board, Herrick details the lack of “full model runs” for the  Delta Tunnels (WaterFix) preferred alternative (4A).  The lack of proper modeling “…means that neither the SWRCB nor the public has any real data on which to judge the impacts to third parties of the environment.” He urges the board to delay any decisions on the Tunnels’ Point of Diversion permit because, “There is literally nothing for the parties to evaluate or about which to testify.” In addition, the lack of full model runs calls further into question the reliability of the water supply for exporters.

Barrigan-Parrilla adds, “After spending roughly a quarter of a billion dollars and ten years of time, the water exporters cannot tell bond funders for the project with confidence how much water they will receive via the Delta tunnels. The lack of complete, accurate modeling makes the tunnels a high risk endeavor for funders, investors, and the ultimate financial backers – the people of California.”


In case you missed it…

Guest commentary: State's irresponsible actions could be the death of the Delta
By Mary N. Piepho, guest commentary, in Contra Costa Times, 2/6/2016 

Westlands’ cynical ploy uses farmworkers’ group to curb environmental laws
By RAÚL M. GRIJALVA, special to the Sacramento Bee, 2/6/2016 



Pro-Delta Tunnels Group Bars Journalist from Media Teleconference

For Immediate Release: 2/8/2016

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director, Restore the Delta 209-479-2053
Bill Jennings, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, 209-938-9053

Pro-Delta Tunnels Group Bars Journalist from Media Teleconference
Veteran fisheries reporter Dan Bacher asked to media event, then denied access

Sacramento – Daniel Bacher, a veteran Northern California journalist specializing in fisheries, received a media advisory in late January announcing a media teleconference being held by Californians for Water Security to “discuss the urgency of implementing California’s Water Fix” (aka The Delta Water Export Tunnels).

The media advisory read in part…
“On Wednesday at 10:30 a.m., the day before the State Water Resources Control Board holds its initial meeting to consider issuing permits for the California Water Fix, supporters including water experts, environmentalists and business and labor interests will host a media teleconference to discuss the importance of implementing the Governor’s plan to update our aging water infrastructure.
“The California Water Fix has endured nearly a decade of extensive expert review, planning and scientific and environmental analysis by the state’s leading water experts, engineers and conservationists, and unprecedented public comment and participation.
“The coalition urges the Water Board to approve the petition as the only viable plan to protect the health and water quality of the Delta, while securing water supplies for nearly 2/3 of our state’s homes, farms and businesses.“

Speakers included Rich Atwater, Executive Director, Southern California Water Committee; Jerry Meral, California Water Program Director, National Heritage Institute; and Michael Quigley, Executive Director, California Alliance for Jobs.

Bacher, a longtime editor at Northern California Angler Publications, publishers of the Fish Sniffer magazine, was surprised by what happened next:

“When I called in and talked to the conference staff, four people in a row told me I wasn’t on the ‘approved credentialed media list,’” said Bacher. “I asked them, ‘So why did they send me a media advisory about the event (twice!) when they didn’t want me to get on the call?’”

It appears that Californians for Water Security, the “coalition” created by corporate agribusiness interests to promote the California Water Fix plan to build Governor Jerry Brown’s Delta Tunnels, does not want independent journalists to ask them any tough questions about the controversial water project.

“This is sad, but not surprising behavior from the Delta Tunnel advocates,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta. “Are they banning all press that do not agree with their point of view? Or just the ones who have attempted to inform the public regarding the tunnel impacts? If these proponents of the Delta Tunnels are so sure science and public opinion is on their side, what do they have to fear from a fisheries journalist? Hard questions from journalists enable public oversight and accountability in our democratic society.”

“Dan Bacher has been one of the few journalists in California covering the decline of native fish species. He has been on the front lines of that story for decades and deserves a spot in any media event that will impact California water and Delta water flows. Dan asks tough questions, as any good journalist should. Typically, one only bans journalists when you have something to hide and you want or need to manipulate what the citizens of CA are allowed to know. If you only want stenographers attending your media event don’t invite real journalists,” said Bill Jennings, executive director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance.

Bacher’s articles on fish, water and environmental justice have been published in an array of publications, including the Appeal Democrat, daily kos, the East Bay Express, Sacramento News & Review, Native California News, elkgrovenews.yet,, and Counterpunch. Bacher is a member of the Freelancers Guild of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, Communications Workers of America (CWA) AFL-CIO, Local 39521.

Reporters interested in this story may contact Mr. Bacher for more information:
Dan Bacher, Fishsniffer Magazine, 916-677-1786, [email protected]

Californians for Water Security offers no telephone contact information on their website, but inquiries can be sent to their email [email protected]

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LA Times OpEd: Can the Delta survive more ‘regulatory flexibility’?

In case you missed it…

Los Angeles Times Op-Ed
Can the Sacramento Delta survive more 'regulatory flexibility'?

By Doug Obegi 
Published: February 3, 2016
Original article at LA Times.

The state and federal Endangered Species Acts were created to prevent the extinction of our native fish and wildlife, and they've been tremendously successful. Yet despite these laws, California is on the verge of killing off some of its native salmon and other fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and San Francisco Bay, the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas.

Not just fish are at risk. Our state's salmon industry is economically crucial to coastal communities and thousands of fishermen and fishing families. Salmon are also essential to the coastal ecosystem; for example, killer whales that migrate off California are threatened because of the decline of salmon, their main prey.

Continue reading at LA Times.



Silicon Valley friends, you’re invited to our Meet & Greet in San Jose!

The Santa Clara Valley Water District, after firing their pro-tunnels CEO, is reconsidering the decision to support the tunnels plan. To get more background issue, read this recent article.

We are holding a meet and greet on Thursday, February 11th from 3 to 6 pm in San Jose (see our flyer below). It will be a casual open house type event where you can drop by between the hours of 3 to 6 pm, have a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and a snack, and talk with Restore the Delta staff about the real costs of the Delta tunnels project for Santa Clara Valley Water District rate payers.


Date: Thursday, February 11, 2016
Location: The Farmer’s Union, 151 W. Santa Clara St., San Jose
Time: Drop in between the hours of 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm

Will you be able to join us? RSVP by emailing [email protected].


SF Chronicle editorial: Delta tunnel troubles

In case you missed it…

The San Francisco Chronicle
Delta tunnel troubles

Published: January 30, 2016
Original article at SF Chronicle.

Gov. Jerry Brown wants to spend $3.6 million to incorporate his goal to build 40-foot-wide, twin 35-mile-long delta tunnels into state planning. In the scheme of a proposed $17 billion (and probably more costly) project, the amount tucked into the state budget is tiny. If adopted, however, future spending and permitting would need to be consistent with its purpose — to make a “conveyance” part of the state’s Delta Plan.

The Brown administration would say a conveyance plan is already part of the plan, but we disagree. Time is running out for the ill-advised Water Fix plan.

Proponents — state water contractors, labor and construction interests, the governor — are seeing cracks in their coalition. The contractors association, which has footed the bills for the tunnel environmental studies, has tapped out its members. Without guarantees that the tunnels will mean more water to ship south, it will be difficult to raise more funds.

Opponents — delta agricultural interests and environmental groups concerned about the health of the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary — are trying to squeeze spending and block legislative action. A bipartisan group of state senators and Assembly members, as well an allied congressional group, each has written the governor to argue against the $3.6 million expenditure. Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman, D-Stockton, has introduced a bill, AB1713, requiring voters to approve any “conveyance.” A wealthy Stockton farmer has put an initiative on the November ballot also requiring a vote of the people for bond-funded expenditures exceeding $2 billion.

Those of us who live by the bay know its health relies on healthy flows of delta water. Tunnels are no fix for that, governor.