Tunnel Critics Urge Brown To Inaugurate a New Water Solution

Posted on 07 January 2015

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By Dan Bacher

In his inaugural address Monday at the State Capitol in Sacramento, Governor Jerry Brown made two references to California water as he discussed an array of issues. These included repaying the state's debt, funding education, promoting renewable energy and efficiency, addressing climate change, expanding health care, and dealing with changes in the criminal justice system.

He didn't specifically mention the peripheral tunnels proposed under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) during his talk, but he did tout the water bond and California Water Action Plan as "solutions" to California's water problems.

"We also have the people to thank for Propositions 1 and 2, which save water and money and prepare us for an uncertain future," he stated. "These are measures that nearly every Democrat and Republican voted to put on the ballot and nearly 70 percent of voters ultimately approved. And I'm proud to report that as a result, by the end of the year, we will be investing in long overdue water projects and saving $2.8 billion in the state's new constitutionally protected Rainy Day Fund."

"We must also deal with longstanding infrastructure challenges. We are finally grappling with the long-term sustainability of our water supply through the recently passed Proposition 1 and our California Water Action Plan," Brown said.

Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Gov. Brown's rush to build giant water export Tunnels that would drain the Delta and doom sustainable farms, salmon and other Pacific fisheries, used the inauguration as an opportunity to call on Brown to "inaugurate a new, sustainable water solution, and abandon the doomed BDCP tunnels, which violate the Clean Water Act, degrade Delta families' drinking water, and threaten salmon extinction," said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of RTD.

"For $67 billion, Californians get no new water, lose our fisheries and spend generations paying to subsidize huge, unsustainable industrial agriculture on unsuitable, drainage impaired Westside San Joaquin Valley lands," said Barrigan-Parrilla. "That money would be better spent on alternatives that will make more water available to all Californians: recycling, storm water capture, conservation, groundwater cleanup and recharge etc. It's time for a new, sustainable solution that makes new water, creates long-term jobs, promotes regional water independence and preserves fisheries and sustainable farms."

The tunnels' opponents called upon Gov. Brown to "abandon the doomed project" and instead embrace a sustainable water solution that is fair to all Californians. That solution includes reducing Delta water exports, strengthening Delta levees, and investing in regional water independence through sustainable programs.

"Gov. Brown is offering us the same old worn out ideas regarding water management - taking too much water from one part of the state, causing great harm to communities and fisheries, to 'fix' the problems for big agriculture on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. The tunnels will provide water only for big agribusiness growers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley who farm unsustainable crops like almonds for export. The recent BDCP redesign of the pumps means absolutely nothing. It still violates the Endangered Species and Clean Water Acts and dooms our fisheries," said Barrigan-Parrilla.


Gov. Brown's Tunnels

Cost: $67 billion
New Water: None
Jobs: 10,000 short-term construction jobs, destroys thousands of Delta farming jobs, destroys Pacific fisheries-related jobs
Who benefits? Mainly huge west San Joaquin growers

Sustainable Water Solution

Cost: $12 billion
New Water: 5-10 million acre feet
Jobs: Thousands of long-term jobs installing water-saving devices, replacing infrastructure
Who benefits? All Californians

The transcript of Governor Brown's inaugural address can be found here.

This article was originally published at Indybay.