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California’s Scariest Halloween Horror Show: Jerry Brown’s Delta Tunnels

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While adults and children alike dress up as vampires, ghosts, zombies, extra-terrestrials and other creatures on Halloween, Governor Jerry Brown is busy promoting his own real life horror show that exceeds the terror found in any scary movie that’s ever appeared on the silver screen — his Delta Tunnels of Death.

Like an evil vampire that you just can’t seem to kill, the Delta-destroying tunnels plan keeps coming back.

Jerry Brown is no stranger to vampires and “dark energy” himself.

In a pre-recorded interview with Chuck Todd this August, Brown “compared the controversy surrounding Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton’s email server to a vampire plot,” reported Politico on August 21.

“It has some kind of dark energy that gets everybody excited,” Governor Brown said. “It’s almost like a vampire; she’s going to have to find a stake and put it right through the heart of these emails.”

The California governor also said the email controversy “has kind of a mystique to it.”

I think I will take the good advice that Brown had for the email controversy and apply it to his Delta Tunnels plan. We must find a stake and put it right through the “heart” of the California WaterFix project.

As you may remember, the voters overwhelmingly defeated the water-sucking and fish-exterminating vampire project, originally known as the Peripheral Canal, in November 1982.

However, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger resurrected the undead project from its electoral tomb starting in 2007 under new, less scary-sounding names – the Delta Vision Plan and the Bay Delta Conservation Plan – and did everything he could push the plan through without allowing the voters to vote, including pressuring the Legislation to pass a water policy/water bond package in November 2009 that cleared the path to the construction of the peripheral canal.

Jerry Brown embraced the water-guzzling vampire project of Schwarzenegger’s as his own “legacy” when he entered his third term as Governor in January 2015 – and in fact fast-tracked the project as the peripheral canal became the twin tunnels. .

I’ve published hundreds of articles about the Delta Tunnels, Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to divert Sacramento River water 30 miles under the California Delta to facilitate its export to corporate agribusiness and Southern California water agencies,  in a wide array of publications.

In my reporting, I’ve covered many of the horrors of the deadly, estuary-killing plan. These include:

* How the project won’t create one drop of new water while spending up to $67 billion of taxpayer and ratepayer’s money.

* How the project’s former point man Jerry Meral, in a moment of candor in 2013, claimed the Delta “cannot be saved,” after years of promoting the peripheral canal and tunnels as the solution to the co-equal goals of water supply reliability.

* How the reports of scientific panels, ranging from the Delta Independence Science Board to federal EPA scientists, that have given the alleged “science” of the tunnels project a failing grade.

* How the California WaterFix is a massive water grab for corporate agribusiness interests and Southern California water agencies, subsidized by the taxpayers.

* How the project won’t help Californians during the drought, fund innovative water conservation, stormwater capture, or water recycling projects that are desperately needed.

* How the plan will push endangered fish species, such as Delta and longfin smelt, winter Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead and green sturgeon, over the abyss of extinction, while failing to address the state’s long-term water supply needs.

* How the project will devastate not only San Francisco Bay and Delta fisheries, but recreational, commercial and subsistence fisheries up and down the West Coast; the salmon fishery alone is worth $1.5 billion annually.

* How the tunnels will also imperil the salmon, steelhead and other fish populations on the Klamath and Trinity Rivers that are an integral part of the culture and livelihoods of the Yurok, Karuk and Hoopa Valley tribes.

* How the tunnels would devastate the Delta’s $5.2 billion agricultural economy and $750 million recreation and tourism economy.

* How the Winnemem Wintu Tribe and other California Indian Tribes have been excluded or marginalized in the Delta Tunnels process.

* How documents for the tunnels projects, in an overt case of environmental injustice, have not been translated into Spanish and other languages, as required under an array of state and federal laws.

* How the current petition before the State Water Resources Control Board and all of the previous plans, EIRs and documents of the plan have failed to address other alternatives, such as the Environmental Water Caucus’  Sustainable Water Plan for California, for achieving the dual goals of ecosystem restoration and water supply.

I’ve  also covered the lack of scoping meetings for the new plan; lack of details regarding financing, addition of 8,000 new pages for public comment on top of the existing 40,000 pages that were previously submitted by the state and federal governments last year; and the lack of a cost-benefits analysis.

But in the many hours I’ve spent covering the California WaterFix and its predecessors, there’s one deadly  flaw with the project that stands out among all others: the false assumption the project is based upon.

The Water Fix  is based on the absurd contention that taking up to 9,000 cubic feet per second of water from the Sacramento River at the new points of diversion, as requested in the petition by the Department of Water Resources  (DWR) and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to the State Water Resources Control Board, will somehow “restore” the Delta ecosystem.

I am not aware of a single project in US or world history where the construction of a project that takes more water out of a river or estuary has resulted in the restoration of that river or estuary.

Based on this untenable premise and all of the flaws that thousands of Californians have uncovered about the project, I am strongly urging the State Water Resources Control Board to reject the petition of DWR and Reclamation requesting permits for new water diversion intakes on the Sacramento River and water quality certification under the Clean Water Act.

This vampire project will make the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, San Francisco Bay and our ocean waters into a giant aquatic graveyard. We must drive a stake into the heart of this project of multiple horrors and stop it from pushing Delta and longfin smelt, Central Valley steelhead, Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon, green sturgeon and other fish and wildlife species into the dark abyss of extinction.

Dan Bacher is an environmental journalist in Sacramento. He can be reached at: Dan Bacher danielbacher@fishsniffer.com.

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