Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Water Steal Fix... Is In!

For Jerry Brown’s water-stealing WaterFix, the Fix is IN…

By Dan Bacher
On the same day that Californians for Water Security, the astroturf coalition established to rally support for Jerry Brown’s $15+California's $15+ billion waterstealing "WaterFix" boondogglebillion Delta Tunnels, announced they were approaching their first anniversary, a panel of experts convened by Restore the Delta revealed the alarming information that they have discovered so about the project after reading through the 48,000 page Environmental Impact Report (EIR).
In an email statement to their supporters on September 29, Californians for Water Security claimed, “the coalition has achieved so much in the past year, thanks to the active participation of you and all of our coalition members. But it’s not time for celebration. It’s time to continue the work.”
“This next year could be the most important year in moving the California Water Fix from planning to construction. In the next year, we’ll have important decisions on the environmental impact report; local water agencies and contractors will make key decisions on future support; key state and federal agencies will hold hearings and determine positions on CA Water Fix; and much more,” the group wrote.
“You know how important the CA Water Fix is to the future of California’s water security. That’s why we hope we can count on continued support from you and our more than 150 organizational members and more than 16,000 citizens who support the project,” the “coalition” (http://watersecurityca.com) claimed.
However, the experts speaking in the Restore the Delta teleconference painted a very bleak, much different picture about the “future of California’s water security” for fish, wildlife, the environment and the people of California if the proposed California Water Fix, the Delta Tunnels project formerly known as the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), is somehow approved by the permitting agencies.
They noted that this giant project will cost California tax and ratepayers between $15 and $60 billion — “one of California’s largest public investments to date.” And there will be no public vote, unlike in 1982 when the voters turned down the original peripheral tunnel plan by a huge margin.
For the complete statements by each expert on the panel and the audio of the event, you can go to: http://restorethedelta.org/…
Jeffrey Michael Ph.D., Director, Center for Business and Policy Research, University of the Pacific, spoke on “Water Yields, Economics and Missing Alternatives,” exposing how the project is not economically or financially feasible.
“First, an EIR must describe the project accurately,” said Michael. “The Delta Tunnels EIR/EIS describes a project that is not economically or financially feasible due to its minimal water yields. Specifically, the EIR/EIS describes water exports with the $16 billion tunnels will only average about 250,000 acre feet more each year than under No Action.”
“That’s about 16,000 acre feet of unreliable, untreated water per $1 billion of capital cost, an incredibly low return on investment. For comparison, the highest cost alternatives like desalination plants deliver over 50,000 acre feet of highly reliable, purified water for the same capital investment,” noted Michael.
Robert Wright, Senior Counsel for Friends of the River, reported on the devastating impacts that Tunnels Plan would have on endangered species, including Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, green sturgeon and Delta and longfin smelt.
“The Delta Water Tunnels would instead destroy endangered and threatened fish species,” said Wright. “The Tunnels would divert for the Central Valley and State Water Projects vast quantities of freshwater from the Sacramento River near Clarksburg that would no longer flow through the lower Sacramento River, sloughs, and Delta. This would jeopardize the continued existence of endangered and threatened species of fish and adversely modify their designated critical habitat by taking away freshwater flows for Winter Run Chinook salmon, spring-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, green Sturgeon, and Delta smelt.”
Besides jeopardizing the continued existence of endangered Central Valley salmon and steelhead and Delta and longfin smelt, the tunnels also imperil the salmon and steelhead runs on the Trinity and Klamath rivers, since a large percentage of the water from the Trinity River is diverted to the Sacramento River system and the Delta for export to corporate agribusiness interests on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.
Osha Meserve, North Delta Water rights attorney, exposed how the state and federal agencies were currently forging forward with key permits while the environmental review process is still underway.
“Signaling their commitment to a deeply flawed project, the project rushed forward with its major water right and wetland fill permit applications this month,” said Meserve. “In its submittal to the State Water Resources Control Board, tunnel applicants claimed they owned the roughly forty parcels of land necessary to construct the three tunnels that can convey 9000 cubic feet per second of water. Keep in mind the highest the river has flowed near the proposed tunnel intakes is 8400 cfs this month.”
“Later, after we pointed out the error, DWR submitted an errata sheet and tried to excuse its misrepresentations because the form was not usable for a project this large. DWR also had to amend its application to show that every water user in the Delta – over three thousand water rights — may be injured by the project from the changes in water quality, quantity and levels the project will cause,” she explained.
Tim Stroshane, water policy analyst for Restore the Delta, revealed the alarming impact the tunnels would have on the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary, the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas.
Stroshane said, “Harmful algal blooms are expected to increase due to the Tunnels, consuming most or all dissolved oxygen in the water, and suffocating oxygen-respiring organisms like fish. Blue-green algae, such as one species called Microcystis, can also produce ‘cyanotoxins’ that pose a significant potential threat to wildlife, dogs, and human beings, and exposure can cause liver cancer in humans.”
“Tunnels’ reports acknowledge that ‘increases in the frequency, magnitude, and geographic extent of Microcystis blooms in the Delta would occur relative to Existing Conditions,’ increasing a dangerous ecological and public health threat,” he disclosed.
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta, discussed “Politics vs. Sustainability” in the Tunnels Plan. She criticized the project for being a “legacy project” inherited from Governor Jerry Brown’s father “created on flawed logic” – and urged the Governor to “do the right thing” and drop the tunnels project.
“This repackaging of the Delta tunnels will waste up to $60 billion dollars without creating any new water, won’t help desperate communities during the drought, or fund innovative water conservation, stormwater capture, or water recycling projects that cities are eager to build for resilience in a changing climate,” she said.
“Californians now face a huge decision. Should we commit $60 billion (after bond repayment and operation costs are considered) to construct twin 40 foot-wide, 35 mile-long, tunnels to export what water is left for almonds for export and speculative development – in the year 2031? Or are we going to protect the most magnificent and important estuary on the west coast of the Americas?” asked Barrigan-Parrilla.
She concluded, “Governor Brown has inherited a legacy project from his father that was created on flawed logic – an overextended water supply, even back in the 1960s. With climate change, snowpack will continue to diminish in the Sacramento River watershed and more rain will fall at the coast. Instead of continuing to cling stubbornly to this flawed family legacy, Governor Brown needs to do the right thing for the future of the state he loves. He needs to drop the tunnels project once and for all, and use his office to create a Marshall plan for water sustainability for all Californians, not just mega growers in Westlands and the Kern County Water District, and certainly not for the Metropolitan Water District.”
The comment period ends for the California Water Fix ends on October 30, 2015, so Californians now have only one month left to submit comments on the Environmental Impact Report for the proposed Delta Tunnels project. If you haven’t submitted your comment yet, now’s the time to do it!
Public Comments on the Delta EIR/EIS can be submitted to:
BDCP/California WaterFix Comments
P.O. Box 1919
Sacramento, CA 95812
BDCPComments [at] icfi.com
You can also sign the petition to oppose the Delta Tunnels at: http://www.change.org/

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