The Brown administration on Monday, September 23 amped up its public relations campaign for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build twin tunnels to export massive quantities of northern California water to corporate agribusiness interests on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. As usual, the voices of Delta communities were completely excluded.
Restore the Delta (RTD) called out the Natural Resources Agency and the Department of Water Resources for choreographing a media tour of the Delta that does not include one Delta area representative. The group strongly opposes Governor Jerry Brown’s rush to build peripheral tunnels under the Orwellian-named Bay Delta "Conservation" Plan, noting that the $54.1 billion dollar boondoggle would drain the Delta and doom Central Valley Chinook salmon and other Pacific fisheries.
Restore the Delta Executive Director, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, said, “Directors and public relations officials are conducting a tour with officials from the Metropolitan Water District in the Delta at taxpayer expense to sell the project to Southern California media, but they have managed to exclude all Delta community representatives from talking with these members of the media to learn the Delta perspective of the peripheral tunnel project."
"While we do not fault the media for participating in the tour, as listening to multiple sources is part of their job, we note that the Department of Water Resources is expanding its tax-fueled media campaign to sell Californians on a $54 billion boondoggle project that Federal fisheries agencies have said will not save endangered fish species, will destroy wintering habitat for endangered Sandhill Cranes, and will destroy the Delta family farming community," she said. "All of this is being pushed forward by the Brown Administration to serve the special interests of a few big water districts like the Metropolitan Water District, Westlands, and the Kern County Water Agency which operate as the middlemen to control a limited, public resource for profit– California’s water supply.”
Delta residents, including farmers, fishermen and recreation enthusiasts, showed up with signs protesting the twin tunnels throughout the tour to answer questions on the Delta reaction to the proposed tunnel project.
Barrigan-Parrilla added, “What DWR officials will not tell the media is the level of destruction that will be inflicted on the Delta with this project. They also won’t tell the media that there is a better solution for the Delta and California, including: upgrading levees, reducing water exports, fixing the existing pumps, retiring drainage impaired farmland, and investing in projects throughout the state that will make more water for Californians. This will save the Delta and ensure that southern Californians have the water that they need.”
The construction of the tunnels would hasten the extinction of Central Valley salmon and steelhead, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other species, as well as imperil the salmon and steelhead populations of the Trinity and Klamath rivers. The "habitat restoration" proposed under the plan would take huge areas of fertile Delta farmland out of production in order to continue irrigating selenium-filled, drainage-impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.
Ironically, the exclusive media tour took place the exact same day that two articles slamming the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the tunnels, one by columnist George Shelton and the other by reporter Bettina Boxall, appeared in the LA Times.
Shelton’s column, “Buffaloes threaten pristine landscape," stated, “The Brown administration and some water buffaloes want to muck up one of the most unique, mysterious and picturesque areas of California. Muck it up literally.” (http://www.latimes.com/...)
Jerry Cadagan, longtime water activist, quipped, “In hockey it's a hat trick, in baseball a grand slam, in buffalo hunting it's a sharp arrow right in the heart; LA Times columnist George Skelton got himself a trophy buffalo today."
“And while Mr. Skelton handled the bow and arrow, his LA Times colleague Bettina Boxall took a very sharp knife and cut the buffalo's heart,” he added.
Boxall’s piece, “Who will pay for Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta tunnel project,” said, “Hints have been dropped that to keep the water project alive, urban ratepayers in Southern California may pay more than their share, in effect subsidizing San Joaquin Valley agribusiness interests.” (http://www.latimes.com/...)
Restore the Delta is a 10,000-member grassroots organization committed to making the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta fishable, swimmable, drinkable, and farmable to benefit all of California. Restore the Delta works to improve water quality so that fisheries and farming can thrive together again in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.