Governor Brown's budget includes $3.5 million for Delta Tunnels

State officials deny any money targeted for controversial tunnels

By Dan Bacher
It’s easy to see why the Governor broke his promise to the taxpayers when you consider the $21.8 million that Big Money interests, including corporate agribusiness groups, billionaires, timber barons, Big Oil, the tobacco industry, and the California Chamber of Commerce, dumped into the Proposition 1 campaign.  There is no doubt that these wealthy corporate interests are expecting a big return for their "investment," including the construction of the tunnels, in California’s play-to-pay politic system.  For more information, read my article on the East Bay Express website:

“Governor Brown wants to waste more taxpayer money to prop up a hugely controversial project that was supposed to be paid for by the water exporters,” she said.  “It's time for the madness to end. Let’s redirect available funding to projects that will make California water more resilient to climate change and extended droughts.”  

“Water recycling, urban water conservation, groundwater recharging, and storm water capture are all projects that are desperately needed, as we see by the massive flooding in Southern California today. The tunnels fail to address those opportunities. The Delta Tunnels are a 20th Century fix to a 21st Century problem,” Barrigan-Parrilla concluded.

The tunnels would divert massive quantities of Sacramento River water for export to corporate agribusiness interests irrigating drainage-impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, Southern California water agencies and oil companies conducting environmentally destructive fracking and other extreme oil extraction methods in Kern County.

The tunnels would hasten the extinction of imperiled Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, as well as imperil the salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.  

Unfortunately, some species may become extinct even before Brown has a chance to build his “legacy” project, the Delta Tunnels, due to abysmal state and federal government water management policies. 

Fish species ranging from endangered Delta smelt to striped bass continued to plummet to record low population levels in 2015, according to the annual fall midwater trawl survey results released by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) on December 18. 

Only 6 Delta smelt, an endangered species that once numbered in the millions and was the most abundant fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, were collected at the index stations in the estuary this fall. The 2015 index (7), a relative number of abundance, “is the lowest in history,” said Sara Finstad, an environmental scientist for the CDFW’s Bay Delta Region. 

Likewise, Longfin Smelt, a cousin of the Delta Smelt, declined to the lowest abundance index (4) in the history of the survey. Only 3 longfin smelt were collected at the index stations throughout the three-month period. 

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