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One of the biggest myths about the fight over Governor Jerry Brown's plan to build the twin tunnels under the Delta is that it is a conflict between northern California and Southern California.

In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. The conflict over the two gigantic twin tunnels is not between northern California and southern California, but instead between the great majority of Californians, both north and south, who oppose the tunnels versus corporate agribusiness interests, developers, water privateers and corporate-backed politicians who support the project.

The growing opposition to the twin tunnels proposed under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) was highlighted by a news conference in front of LA City Hall on Wednesday, December 18. Water ratepayers, community leaders and consumer groups spoke out against the tunnels project, claiming that it would raise rates and property taxes but bring no new water to Los Angeles.

Governor Jerry Brown and his staff have portrayed the BDCP as the "solution" to achieving the co-equal goals of ecosystem restoration and water supply reliability. The 120-day public comment period for the 40,214 pages of BDCP documents released last week began on Friday, December 13.

"One calamitous storm or natural disaster — driven by climate change — could jeopardize the entire Delta, destroy its ecosystem and cut off water to 25 million Californians,” Brown claimed. “This agreement with our federal partners moves us another step closer to being more prepared for an uncertain future in California.” (

Food & Water Watch, eight Los Angeles neighborhood councils, the Sierra Club, Southern California Watershed Alliance and Environmental Water Caucus Ratepayers and advocates strongly disagreed with Brown - and called on Mayor Garcetti, the Los Angeles City Council and LADWP to oppose “unfair rate hikes and property taxes” proposed to pay for the massive twin tunnels project.

The 35-mile long, 40-foot wide twin-tunnels project is estimated to cost between $25 and $54.1 billion, forcing Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) to increase water bills and property taxes from $2,000-$4,500 per household, according to Food & Water Watch California Director Adam Scow. This “twin-tunnel tax” would not bring any new water to Los Angeles.

“At a time when Los Angeles is becoming more water efficient and using less water from the Delta, this twin-tunnel project would raise water bills and property taxes on Los Angeles homeowners and small businesses by at least $2,000 to subsidize more water for large corporate agribusinesses in Kern County and the Westlands Water District,” said Scow. “This plan is fundamentally unfair to Los Angeles taxpayers and ratepayers.”

Scow said the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s water plan calls for reducing its purchase of imported water from the Delta by 30 percent and increasing its local water supply through cost-effective measures such as replacing aging water pipes, cleaning groundwater, and expanding water recycling.

“Yet large corporate agribusinesses in Kern County and the Westlands Water District support the tunnels on the condition that they will secure massive amounts of water from the Delta for themselves and continue to be subsidized by taxpayers and ratepayers in Los Angeles and throughout southern California,” emphasized Scow.

“It's wrong and unfair for Los Angeles ratepayers to subsidize new tunnels for corporate interests when we already need to invest billions in fixing and upgrading our local water infrastructure,” said Ed Begley, actor and environmental advocate. “We need to clean our local water supply and create local jobs - not waste billions on a wasteful tunnel project.”

An independent cost-estimate of the tunnels done by ECONorthwest for Food and Water Watch and the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN) shows that LADWP would need to increase water bills from $7-15 per month for over 40 years or $2000-$4,500 per household to fund its cost share of the tunnels, according to Scow.

Furthermore, with rising energy prices, delays, and cost overruns – common in large-scale construction projects – the costs to Angelinos could be significantly higher. ECONorthwest projects that the real cost of constructing the tunnels would be $17 billion in 2017, the earliest year that construction would begin.

“In a tough economy, we know that ratepayers can only afford to pay so much,” said Chris Sales, Board President of the Northridge South Neighborhood Council. “The Northridge South Neighborhood Council, which represents 20,000 Angelenos, encourages Mayor Garcetti and the City Council to oppose this wasteful project and prioritize investments that create local jobs and protect our environment.”

“The North Hollywood North East Neighborhood Council, representing 25,000 residents, opposes the twin-tunnels – a project that would raise our water bills and property taxes but deliver no additional water,” said Board President Ernie Moscoso. “We call on Mayor Garcetti and the City Council to oppose this unfair tunnel tax and prioritize investments that expand our local water supply.”

LADWP has projected that billions of dollars are needed to replace its aging system of pipes and water mains, and billions more to expand water recycling and to clean a large aquifer in the San Fernando Valley, according to the groups. A recent poll from the L.A. Times showed that when told about the costs of the tunnels, a majority of Californians opposed the project.

Conner Everts, Executive Director of the Southern California Watershed Alliance, also slammed the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, representing a growing movement of Los Angeles Basin environmentalists who are opposed to Jerry Brown’s twin tunnels.

“This project is an unfair tunnel tax will raise our water bills but give us no new water,” said Everts, who grew up steelhead and trout fishing in Southern California streams. “Los Angeles needs to invest in local infrastructure and local jobs first.”

Everts also noted that Southern California is on the path to taking less imported water. “If we continue with the illusion that there will be more water, we aren’t facing the reality of our water supply, or investing in water conservation jobs for Southern California,” he stated.

Increasing numbers of columnists and editors from the Los Angeles Times and other Southern California newspapers have criticized the tunnel plan also.

On December 15, LA Times columnist George Skelton exposed how Governor's Brown’s use of the "threat" of a "catastrophic earthquake" on the Delta to justify the construction of the twin tunnels is based on a “shakey rationale.” (

Skelton also had a solution to the tunnels. “Before spending $16 billion boring oversize tunnels and mucking up people's lives, how about this? Try modern fish screens. Relocate the pumps so they don't reverse river flows. Take the water after it flushes through the delta," he said.

Californians for a Fair Water Policy is a statewide coalition of ratepayers, environmentalists, Tribal leaders, farmers, businesses and fishermen opposed to the tunnels project because of the severe negative impacts on California ratepayers, taxpayers, wild salmon and the San Francisco Bay Delta's ecosystem. Learn more at

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Comment Preferences

  •  Happening Everywhere (4+ / 0-)

    I don't live in California, but I can commiserate with steep water bill increases.

    The city of Cleveland 2 years ago started a process of raising our water bills like 82% over the course of 4 years. The average Cleveland customer would see his quarterly bill go from $46 to $84 dollars.

    Those in surrounding suburbs will see an increase from $88 per quarter to $133.

    Couple that with all the utility companies raising rates and high property taxes and it is no wonder the 1% are about the only people that can afford homes anymore.

    People who are on the margins have a hard time eating these "small" increases as politicians like to call them.

    We don't have it as bad here as you do in California, but we can certainly empathize with the struggle to keep your head above water as local governments dig deeper into your pocket and make it harder to keep your house.

    The saddest part is that our water fees spiked because we conserved too much water and it was costing the city revenue.

    There is something perversely wrong when you reward your constituents conservation efforts with jacked up rates.

    •  This is quite a bit more complicated than just (0+ / 0-)

      rate hikes though.

      It's stealing water we need in Northern California rivers (for environmental and cultural reasons) to give to agribusiness and making Southern California ratepayers pay the bill.

      Like the old saying goes, it's like taking from Peter to pay Paul and giving CongAgra. all the money.

      © grover

      So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

      by grover on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 12:53:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  good, awareness gaining on ignorance (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    norcal puff pieces on the Happy One Year Anniversary to the MPAA's were received to a chorus of boos and good info.

    Geezus, 'park', it's a park???? Yeah if you are an oil company with good insiders it's a park.

    This machine kills Fascists.

    by KenBee on Thu Dec 19, 2013 at 08:48:47 PM PST

    •  Yes, those puff pieces were disgusting (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      old wobbly, KenBee

      Those puff pieces were disgusting, especially when the head scientist who oversaw the creation of the North Coast "marine protected areas" is awaiting trial on federal charges of conspiracy to embezzle. He's trying to work out a plea deal with federal prosecutors. Once the trial is over, expect to see more news about the MLPA scam; I don't know how state authorities can continue to claim the science process was "fair" when the head scientist, an alleged embezzler, rejected the Yurok Science Team's studies numerous times. Sooner or later this process will have to be investigated and the cynical corporate "environmentalists" who keep uttering the "most open, transparent and inclusive process in human history" mantra will exposed for the frauds that they are.  

  •  Woohoo!! Glad to see N.CA and S.CA ratepayers (4+ / 0-)

    beginning to see how horrible the BDCP is. Received my DVD of the EIR/EIS today - if you want one, email Get cracking - you only need to read 300 pages a day to get through it all before public comment ends! Better yet - just pick a chapter, read it and comment!!!

    The Maven has a countdown clock on the public comment period. As of today, we have 115 days left to comment.

    If you want to learn about CA Water news - Make MavensNotebook your go to site. SRSLY!  

    If you are on the twitter - follow these tags. #whereinbdcp #bdcp @Mrsandhillcrane

    And without a doubt - bookmark

    In 1982 the vote results on the Peripheral Canal looked like this.. VOTING PATTERNS ON PROPOSITION 9 (PERIPHERAL CANAL), JUNE 1982 INTERACTIVE

    We will force this to a vote AGAIN! And the map will only be green in Kern, Tulare and Kings County.

    if a habitat is flooded, the improvement for target fishes increases by an infinite percentage...because a habitat suitability index that is even a tiny fraction of 1 is still infinitely higher than zero, which is the suitability of dry land to fishes.

    by mrsgoo on Thu Dec 19, 2013 at 08:51:55 PM PST

  •  Jerry: We Don't Dig/This (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grover, unfangus

    it tebble, it hobble; honey lu been shot. - harvey kurtzman

    by renzo capetti on Thu Dec 19, 2013 at 09:01:32 PM PST

  •  Every time I read about the tunnels (& fracking) (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I just get more and more disappointed in Jerry. He's done do much good on social issues. But he's making such a mess of the environment.

    It's like he doesn't live here.


    © grover

    So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

    by grover on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 12:56:48 AM PST

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