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Coalition launches campaign against destructive peripheral tunnels

Governor Jerry Brown and federal officials will unveil their plan to build twin "peripheral tunnels" to export more Delta water from the Sacramento River to corporate agribusiness and southern California tomorrow - and Delta advocates will launch their campaign against the tunnels with a rally and news conference at the West Steps of the State Capitol on Wednesday, July 25 at 12:30 p.m.

Governor Jerry Brown will be joined by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Assistant Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for the National Marine Fisheries Service Eric Schwaab in Sacramento tomorrow to announce a "proposed path forward for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan and California's water future," according to a news release from the Governor's Office.

The announcement will take place July 25, 2012 at 10:30 a.m. at the Natural Resources Agency Building, Room 1131, 1416 Ninth Street, Sacramento, CA 95814. "This event is open to credentialed media only," the news release states.

Prior to the noon rally, peripheral canal opponents will gather at 10 am outside the Resources Building with their signs for a pre-rally response to the announcement.

Restore the Delta, elected leaders, the Sierra Club, Food & Water Watch, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, Planning and Conservation League, Environmental Water Caucus, Delta Counties Farm Bureau Caucus, Winnemem Wintu Tribe, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations and other groups will point out the expected damage to water, the environment, fish, farming and water ratepayers presented by the proposal.

“The governor and federal officials are poised to pursue one of the largest public works projects in our history,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta. “We oppose the rush to build Peripheral Tunnels that would exterminate salmon runs, destroy sustainable family farms and saddle taxpayers with tens of billions in debt, mainly to benefit a small number of huge growers on the west side of the Central Valley.”

A broad coalition of Delta residents, Indian Tribes, fishermen, family farmers, and environmentalists believes that you can't "save" the Delta by draining it. The proposal to drain the Delta to benefit the Westlands Water District, agribusiness tycoons Stewart and Lynda Resnick and other powerful corporate interests is the centerpiece of the controversial Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP).

Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, compared the governor's "twin tunnels" plan to the Brazilian government's plans to build the third-largest dam in the world and one of the Amazon's most controversial development projects – the Belo Monte dam on the Xingu River in the state of Pará.

"The Governor's proposed gigantic tunnels and the raising of Shasta Dam are the same as what they are doing at the Belo Monte Dam....totally ignoring the needs of the animals, the environment, and the people, and most of all ignoring the the total IRREVERSIBLE DAMAGE TO THE WATERS!" said Sisk. "It is all about the money and who's pockets it is in."

"The Governor and Government is wrong about this water plan on all levels," she emphasized. "California Tribes need to be included and come to the water talks and plans! We have not given our 'free, prior, and informed consent' on this water plan that affects our tribal communities and way of life!"

Speakers will include Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta; U.S. Rep. John Garamendi; Sen. Lois Wolk; Assem. Bill Berryhill; Mayor Ann Johnston; Caleen Sisk, Chief of Winnemem Wintu Tribe; Jim Metropulos, Sierra Club; Jonas Minton, Planning and Conservation League; Zeke Grader, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations/Golden Gate Salmon Association; Russell van Löben Sels, Chairman, Five Delta Counties Farm Bureau Caucus; Bill Jennings, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance; Kristin Lynch, Food & Water Watch; Nick di Croce, Environmental Water Caucus, and John Herrick, South Delta Water Agency.

People interested in attending the rally should arrive by noon on July 25 at the West Steps of the Capitol.

The campaign against the peripheral canal or tunnel is building momentum every day. For example, the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors today voted 5 to 0 to oppose the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the tunnels.

Over the past several decades, water exports have increased dramatically from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. These increasing water exports have spurred the decline of Central Valley chinook salmon, steelhead, Delta smelt, striped bass, Sacramento splittail and other fish populations, resulting in the listing of many fish species under the Endangered Species Act.

Restore the Delta is a 7000-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. For more information, go to:

Please note: I will not be able to respond to comments until later Wednesday because I will be at the rally and events all day focusing on taking photos and doing a report, after getting a night's sleep. I know some people on this site get all flustered if somebody doesn't respond immediately to a comment or question- and then accuse the author of "posting and running."

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Comment Preferences

  •  Time to see Chinatown again. n/t (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stagemom, enhydra lutris, KenBee

    Barack Obama: Gives people who tortured other people to death a pass, prosecutes whistleblowers. Change we can believe in!

    by expatjourno on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 12:10:48 AM PDT

  •  Let me be devil's advocate for a minute (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joanil, FG

    I lived in CA for 30+ years, fought against the original Peripheral Canal back in the day, am very familiar with the issue. But I wonder if there's an angle to this new version that may bear consideration. Climate change may be a factor here.

    Melting snowpack provides a large percentage of the water to the area. As it slowly melts it feeds the rivers that fill the current dams. But all too soon the snowpack will be more rainpack, leading to massive floods when it rains (formerly snow), and of course when what snow that does fall melts faster than previously ... followed by massive drought since will be no snow to gradually melt and feed the rivers.

    In this context, a case could be made for catching these floods behind a raised Shasta dam. Catch more of the increased runoff before it floods, and hold it for release until later in the season.

    (The Colorado River is a separate, though similar, issue. Much of its own water comes from snowpack too, so may well suffer a similar fate.)

    In this scenario, yes, the fish, delta, and other natural elements might very well get the short end of the deal, and they will suffer terribly. But as the global temperature increase increasingly reverts many parts of California back to desert again, sadly I can see the argument for this approach.

    Here's what's coming. Assume temperature only goes up 1C (it won't stop there, 2C and more is far more likely). If so, in the coming years (and they are not all that far off) when the Midwest becomes a worse dust bowl than during the Depression, and the entire southwest burns all summer every year, and the western third of the country gets less precipitation, and that precipitation is less snow and more rain ... actions like this may be forced upon us. The next few decades will get ugly, and it is possible that ugly choices like the one to be announced on Wednesday may be the best that can be done in order to attempt to stabilize California's water flow for the few more decades that a stopgap like this will buy.

    Now, I'm not convinced this will work, or is the only way it can be done. This is a devil's advocate post. I don't know the answer. But I wanted to ask the question.

    Thanks for listening.

    PS: if you haven't yet, read Mark Lynas' book Six Degrees.

  •  as usual, in water issues, the farthest downstream (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    enhydra lutris

    have no voice.
    what would it be like to let the coastal fisheries have the first word instead of the last?

    will this help the crumbling levees issue, by bypassing them?

    the farmers downstream need to at least treat their waste water in any plan that's discussed.  the fertilizer pollutants are a nightmare.

    so many questions.  will this be another brown family water boondoggle?  the cal water project of the 60's was a disaster for all concerned.
    and yes, i fish.

    Only after the last tree has been cut down. Only after the last fish has been caught. Only after the last river has been poisoned. Only then will you realize that money cannot be eaten. ---Cree Nation Tribal Prophecy

    by stagemom on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 05:41:03 AM PDT

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