Governor Jerry Brown’s recent announcement removing the restoration piece of his dual-goal strategy to save the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and make exported water more reliable undercuts his own rationale for the white elephant of a project known as the Twin Tunnels.
The 2009 enabling legislation that established the BDCP (Bay Delta Conservation Plan) identified two goals: increased reliability for water deliveries south of the Delta and improved fish and wildlife habitat. By suddenly excising the habitat component, the Brown administration has acknowledged that the Bay Delta Conservation Plan has absolutely nothing to do with conservation. Further, his action undermines the legal standing of the project, making it vulnerable to lawsuits. This will require the state to use taxpayer money to defend an indefensible project in the courts.
Finally, the move reveals the project for what it always was beneath its sheep’s clothing of “habitat restoration”: A ruinously expensive and environmentally destructive conveyance system that has no real beneficiaries beyond a handful of corporate farmers in the western San Joaquin Valley and the Tulare Basin. The Twin Tunnels will not produce a single extra drop of water for California, nor will they achieve their putative purpose of guaranteeing water security for California. They cannot deliver water when there is no water to deliver.
We need to put our public funds, our ingenuity, and our energy in maximizing sustainable water supplies through conservation, recycling, development of local sources, storm water capture, and limited desalinization — not by constructing ineffectual “legacy” projects that will burden our children and grandchildren with unconscionable debt.