Saturday, July 28, 2012

Jerry Brown: 'I just want to get s--- done!' 'His legacy' s---?

30 Years Later, California Governor Jerry Brown Restokes Water War Fears with Delta Tunnel Project
Can the critics call it the second coming of the
 Peripheral Canal if the conduit used to divert water 
around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta for shipment 
to Central Valley farmers and thirsty 
Southern Californians . . . is a tunnel?
During the California water wars in his first
 go-round as governor, Jerry Brown pushed 
the canal solution through the legislature only
 to see voters reject his plan at the polls in 1982 
and turn the issue into a third rail of state politics.
On Wednesday, Governor Brown unveiled plans to
 build a $14 billion tunnel system to divert 
Sacramento River water from the delta, to pumps and aqueducts, for the trip south.
The tunnels are part of a $23.7 billion proposal that includes more than 100,000 acres of floodplains and tidal marsh restoration. Funding for the project hasn’t been nailed down yet. Water user fees would be
 used for a big chunk of the tunnel construction.
An $11 billion water bond that would probably supply billions for the project was 
bumped from the November 2012 ballot to 2014 for the same reason it was originally bumped from 2010 to 2012: a suspicion it wouldn’t pass.

In making the announcement, the governor, appearing with U.S. Secretary of
 the Interior Ken Salazar, told of how he had buried his best friend a couple 
of weeks ago and at this stage of his life, “I want to get shit done.”
An optimistic Salazar said the tunnels would bring an end to “the epic water wars that have plagued this state for decades.” But the “shit” Brown wants to get done is a balancing act that has only grown more 
omplicated over the years.
A large contingent of interested parties is focused on restoration of the delta, which has become environmentally degraded. They fear the plan being presented will deteriorate delta water quality, make for unsustainable agricultural practices near the delta, violate the Clean Air Act, kill recreation around the delta and get rid of incentives to fix levees.
Instead of building an expensive tunnel system, they say, we should be reducing exports of delta water, rebuilding levees, making state and regional workers implement conservation practices, and letting locals lead the way in land use decisions. They see it as a water grab, pure and simple.
Supporters say the project would benefit the delta ecology. Water that is drawn 
from the Sacramento River and funneled through the delta to pumps, they say, 
disrupts normal water flow, threatens native fish and wreaks general havoc upon 
the ecosystem. By diverting the water from the river, the delta would be allowed 
to return to a more natural state.
Supporters also see the project as a safeguard against catastrophic failure by the series of levees that protect the delta. New studies show that rising sea levels from global warming, the threat of a major earth
quake and deterioration of the levee system itself virtually guarantee some kind of 
disaster by century’s end. Failure of the levees to hold would draw a huge pulse 
of salt water from the San Francisco Bay, disrupting the flow of fresh water to the 
south and possibly destroying the delta ecosystem.
The delta plan that is emerging has been under active development since 2009. 
It is a complex work-in-progress that the Sierra Club of California, in its critique 
of Brown’s plan, pointed out: “Key decisions on how much water will ultimately 
be diverted, how the system will be operated, and what actions will be taken to
 protect the region’s endangered species will be delayed until after construction 
has began.”
-Ken Broder
To Learn More:
Calif., Federal Officials Reveal Water Tunnel Plan (by Gosia Wozniacka and Hannah Dreier, Associated Press)
Gov. Brown Pushes $23-billion Plan to Tunnel under Delta (by Bettina Boxall and Anthony York, Los Angeles Times)
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