Why Both the Governor’s Peripheral Tunnels and the “One Tunnel” Proposal are the Wrong Answers to Fair Water Policy

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Contact: Steve Hopcraft 916/457-5546; steve@hopcraft.com  Twitter:  @shopcraft

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla 209/479-2053 barbara@restorethedelta.org; Twitter: @RestoretheDelta

California Water War Expert, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla

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Why Both the Governor’s Peripheral Tunnels and the “One Tunnel” Proposal are the Wrong Answers to Fair Water Policy

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla is the Executive Director for Restore the Delta, a 7000-member grassroots organization committed to making the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta fishable, swimmable, drinkable, and farmable benefiting all of California. Barbara is a leading opponent of both Governor Brown’s plan to build two Peripheral Tunnels and a separate proposal to build a single Peripheral Tunnel.  Here are key points Barbara makes:

  • We oppose the rush to build a project that would exterminate salmon runs, destroy sustainable family farms and saddle taxpayers with tens of billions in debt, mainly to benefit a small number of huge corporate agribusinesses on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.
  • Governor Brown’s Peripheral Tunnel proposal is fatally flawed. It’s a bad investment.The total cost is unknown; the financing unsecured, and the only certainty is water customers will pay billions and billions in increased rates. There’s a better solution than to drain the Delta, burden taxpayers with tens of billions, and extinguish native salmon to mainly benefit a small number of huge corporate mega-farms that are unsustainable.
  • This plan would increase water rates for Southern Californians, who would not get any increase in water but would subsidize San Joaquin farmers, who would get more water. The taxpayers of the south pay the debt for the water facilities, while much of the water is virtually donated to the agribusiness giants of Kern.
  • Two-thirds of the water taken from the Delta will go to land-rich mega-farmers and billionaires in Westlands, Kern and Semitropic Water Districts, many of whom will water cotton, almonds and other permanent, water-intensive crops, planted on arid land. Large portions of these crops are for export to India and China. The billionaires will sell some of the water to desert developers.
  • A single Peripheral Tunnel would still harm the Delta, and wouldn’t be cost-effective for the water-takers. The question with the portfolio-based alternative to the BDCP is, ‘Why would water contractors pay for a tunnel that would deliver less water?’  Their agencies cannot afford it.  There is already doubt that they can afford to pay for the currently proposed tunnels, which would deliver between 4.5 and 6 million acre feet of water. If the existing pumps at Tracy remain in use, and a 3000 cfs tunnel is added at Hood, the total export capacity from the Delta would remain at 6 million acre feet.  You cannot restore the Delta by taking that much water out of it.

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