Editorial: Block outrageous effort to lock in Delta tunnels water grab

Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is now trying to jam through a political deal that would enable construction of his $17 billion Delta twin-tunnels project, the biggest public works project in state history, without the approval of the state Legislature, the voters or ratepayers who would be footing the bill.

Brown’s state Department of Water Resources suddenly plans to extend State Water Project contracts, with amendments, for another 50 years. Fifty years! That would allow water contractors backing the twin-tunnels project to lock in water contracts for the Delta tunnels project before Brown leaves office at the end of this year.

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The only way to stop it is if the Assembly’s and state Senate’s Joint Legislative Budget Committee refuses to hold a procedural hearing on the contracts that is currently scheduled for Aug. 14. Mind you, the joint committee has no approval authority, but its refusal to hold the required hearing could delay the process until after the November gubernatorial election. That’s what the committee must do.

The future of California water and a project of this magnitude demands maximum transparency and public input. The hearing must be postponed until the Legislature, the next governor and the public have the opportunity to fully vet the proposal and its impact.

Otherwise, the fix will be in for Brown’s so-called California WaterFix. Even if Gavin Newsom, Gov. Jerry Brown’s likely successor, wanted to later kill the water grab that would send more Northern California water to Central Valley farmers and Southern California cities.

Without a public vote. Without complete information on the financing and cost allocation of the twin-tunnels project. Without sufficient analysis of how much water would be available to contractors.

Once the hearing has been held, state water experts say, the Department of Water Resources can execute the contract amendments. Period. Under existing law, the Legislature would have no oversight under future State Water Project contract amendments.

This is outrageous.

Twin-tunnel proponents are ignoring the July recommendations of the State Water Resources Control Board for significant increases in the water flowing through the Delta in order to preserve its long-term health. The recommendations raised significant questions about the viability of the twin-tunnel project, which won’t pencil out unless it results in increased water flows from the Delta to Southern California.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Business


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