Congressman Garamendi Asserts Delta Tunnels LOI is Dishonest in Letter to EPA

Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA 3rd District) recently sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, Andrew Wheeler describing the “misrepresentations” present in the Delta Conveyance Finance Authority (DCFA) Letter of Interest (LOI) for the Delta Tunnels project, formally known as the California WaterFix.

The Congressman’s letter asserts that the WaterFix LOI overestimates the amount of jobs the tunnels project would create, does not address the lack of federal participation in the project, and misrepresents the status of essential permits and environmental reviews for the project. Congressman Garamendi concludes his letter noting that the Delta tunnels project has already “bilked” the public, as evidenced by state and federal audits published last fall.

Osha Meserve, counsel for local farming and environmental groups with serious concerns about the Delta Tunnels project, said,

“Congressman Garamendi has identified several major flaws in Letter of Interest submitted by the nascent Delta Conveyance Finance Authority for billions in WIFIA loans. The material misrepresentations by the Finance Authority regarding the status of the Delta Tunnels’ permitting and environmental review are alarming and irresponsible. The EPA, which administers the WIFIA loan program, has expressed ongoing concerns about the project’s negative effects on Delta water quality due to reductions in freshwater flows, and those concerns have still not been addressed. This environmentally damaging project should not receive federal assistance.”

Executive Director of Restore the Delta, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla said,
“We are grateful to Congressman John Garamendi for sending his letter to the Federal EPA regarding the WIFIA loan Letter of Interest submitted by the Delta Conveyance Finance Authority, the finance joint powers authority for WaterFix. The DCFA’s LOI, prepared not by their own executive officer, but instead by Brent Walthall, assistant general manager for Kern County Water Agency, was riddled with errors and misstatements. In fact, at the last DCFA meeting on August 16, the LOI was not included in the board packet or made available to the public as part of the DCFA’s board packet. We learned of Mr. Walthall’s preparation of the document when he claimed responsibility for its preparation as questions arose during the meeting. This certainly was not a credible launch for the DCFA.”

“An additional glaring error made in the WIFIA loan LOI not mentioned in Congressman Garamendi’s letter is that it claims that water diversions from the tunnels would benefit economically distressed communities in the South San Joaquin Valley. However, as demonstrated in our recently released report, “The Fate of the Delta,” Stockton has more residents (percentage-wise) living in economic distress of any major city in California, and will be burdened with degraded water quality for economic, environmental, and human use, as a result of the tunnels project.

“The WIFIA LOI is not an honest document. It fails to acknowledge that the Delta Tunnels would sacrifice Delta environmental justice communities to allegedly help other communities. In fact, the Delta Tunnels fail to provide environmental justice protections for the entire state and would saddle environmental justice communities hoping to receive water from the project with enormous debts they can’t afford without improving their water supplies.”


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