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Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown scaling back Delta Tunnels proposal

Sacramento Delta

After seven years of resistance and fightback against the Twin Tunnels boondoggle that would shunt water from the Sacramento Delta southward to the Central Valley and Southern California, California Governor Jerry Brown is thinking of scaling it back to just one tunnel. This would cost a mere $10 billion rather than $17 billion. Gosh. Proponents of the plan say they might be close to getting the money. Translation: They don’t have the money.

Yet this misbegotten project continues to stumble on. Perhaps if Gov. Brown and the State of California hadn’t been so obviously and deliberately misleading about the project, maybe more would support it. But you can’t shunt huge amounts of water away from the Delta then say with a straight face that this will help the Delta. Yet that is what Gov. Brown is doing.

And it’s questionable the tunnels would actually allow more water to be pumped.

Complicating Brown’s plans, his administration has not been able to guarantee that the tunnels will allow any more water to be pumped out of the Delta than is being pumped out now — roughly 50 percent of all its fresh water in most years.

Obegi said the primary goal of his organization is to get the state to take less water from the Delta. Regional projects like water recycling, stormwater capture and the construction of new off-stream reservoirs should instead meet California’s future water needs, he said. Other environmentalists agreed, saying want more details of how much water would be taken in a single tunnel, when and what the impacts on the environment would be.

“After spending over a quarter of a billion dollars pushing for the big tunnels, the state and the Metropolitan Water District have finally recognized that it is dead,” said Jonas Minton, a senior water analyst with the Planning and Conservation League. “The problem with a somewhat smaller version is that it still lacks all the safeguards required to ensure that it will not destroy the environment and economy of the Bay Delta estuary.”