California Governor Jerry Brown wants to build two massive tunnels to siphon water away from the Sacramento Delta to Central Valley agriculture and Los Angeles. Despite much pious and evasive posturing, it’s clear Brown will cheerfully let the Delta die. A top water aide let this slip saying the tunnel plan “is not about, and has never been about, saving the Delta. The Delta cannot be saved.” If built though, it will send large amounts of money to two of Brown’s pet constituencies, big labor unions and the investment banks who will underwrite the bonds. Anyone who thinks Brown is still a moonbeam liberal who cares about the environment isn’t paying attention.
The Bay Area gets two-thirds of its water from the delta and will do whatever it takes to preserve the delta from Brown’s cynical and irresponsible attempt to grab its water.
The best way to improve the health of the Delta is to fix the damaged levee system and allow more water to flow through the estuary, not less. Additional water for cities and agriculture can come from increased recycling and from expanding reservoirs and using underground aquifers for more storage.
Historians now question whether humorist Mark Twain actually uttered the famous quotation: “Whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting over.” If he didn’t, he should have. Northern Californians are in for the water fight of their lives — and with the likely cost in dollars and in water, it’s a fight they can’t afford to lose.