Sacramento’s tunnel vision will destroy the Delta

Tulare Lake. Away.

Owens more. On a respirator but nearly dead.

Mono Lake: His life is on the line.

They — and many more California lakes and rivers — were victims of defying Mother Nature and sucking vast amounts of water from one basin to another.

Bypassing a vast amount of water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecological system by tunneling under it – what could go wrong?
Therefore, Wednesday’s latest reincarnation of Los Angeles’ not-too-secret plan to destroy the Delta along with their partners-in-crime on the west side of Kern County is pure tunnel vision.

For starters, let’s go back to the original sin that was committed after the state water project that brought us the California Aqueduct was passed by the legislature and approved by the voters.

It was supposed to make existing agriculture more sustainable at the time and reduce groundwater draft, making the southern San Joaquin Valley the global poster child for subsidence.

Instead, land speculators could team up with bureaucrats to use a loophole to send water into the desert lands of western Kern County.

Mega-companies and family businesses whose “farms” were mansions in Beverly Hills were able to get water to an area where even groundwater was not available to grow almonds, pistachios, and cotton.

We must be clear on this point. Agriculture is essential for our survival. It is an important part of the California economy. Our exports also help feed the rest of the country and the world.

That said, not all farmers are created equal.

The tunnel will benefit only a handful of “farmers” who are more at home with hedge funds than trimming a hedge.

They have business deep pockets. It is farmland that was not cultivable before the State Water Project came along.

They were the last to put their straws into California’s intricate water storage and transportation system.

They drain water from other farmers, including those on the western side and deep in the San Joaquin Valley that the State Water Project was supposed to stabilize.

Instead, the small hand that turned desert lands into farmland through corporations with the money to easily spend family farms has been able to requisition water courtesy of the state bureaucracy to become immensely wealthy.

Then we have the tunnel project’s other primary benefactor – the Metropolitan Water District which includes Los Angeles and much of Southern California.

The tunnel, they claim, will not increase their share of water and single drop.

Instead, it will simply stabilize streams and protect them from earthquakes that topple levees, court orders mandating fish flows, and the ravages of drought.

This should scare you into holy LA if you’re in Northern California, the Delta, or living in the collective basins of the Stanislaus, Tuolumne, and Merced rivers.

Who do you think will pay the price?

It won’t be Stewart and Lynda Resnick who are the owners of the $5 billion privately owned agro-conglomerate that includes Wonderful Pistachios and Wonderful Almonds and lives in Beverly Hills. Nor will it be Los Angeles developers building more homes and pools in a basin that naturally lacks the water to support what’s already there.

The courts – or rather the state – will have to source water from somewhere to protect the already fragile Delta and fish and keep salt water at bay.

San Francisco has paid $30,000 a year for the right to destroy part of Yosemite National Park and bypass the Delta with a huge pipe running under Modesto to divert much of the flow of the Tuolumne River. and prevent it from benefiting the Delta’s ecological system before it reaches the cranes in the Bay Area.

As a result, San Francisco has avoided the impact on their water supply from court-imposed flows for fish and even most state-imposed drought cuts.

It’s the same sweetheart deal Los Angeles is looking for with the Delta tunnel.

Yet that is but a Trojan horse,

The real price is excessive runoff from winter storms and the like that spill into the Pacific.

L.A. backers gave a snap this time, stressing that the tunnel would only divert water if there was extraordinary runoff from massive winter storms.

Then call it what it is.

The tunnel is the Metropolitan Water District’s plan to beat anyone at capturing excess water beyond what the current storage system can handle.

The state and local jurisdictions are now doing much more sensible planning such as off-stream reservoirs and are looking for a large-scale groundwater replenishment project.

But if Los Angeles and western Kern County can drain that excess flow through the tunnel first, they can recharge the massive water bank created on the south side of the San Joaquin Valley before someone else catches an excess drop of water.

They could easily capture enough excess precipitation that current reservoirs can’t, which would be the equivalent of a Shasta Lake.

Not a bad trick for a tunnel that won’t bring “an extra drop of water” to Southern California from the northern state’s water basins.

Of course, now backers say water diversion will only occur during times of excessive precipitation and higher-than-average river discharges.

But after the small hand Los Angeles did to destroy Owens Valley, which is naive enough to believe that once a tunnel is in place, at some point during normal water years it will not be used to supply the Delta of life-giving water. to rob.

And let’s not forget the damage the tunnel will inflict on the Delta and San Joaquin County, where most of the Delta’s landmass and waterways lie.

Saltwater intrusion will slowly destroy the ecological system as it spreads further west on a more routine basis.

At the same time, less seepage in the Delta means that the aquifer below is also subject to more saltwater intrusion.

During the drought of 1989, saltwater was discovered in deep wells as far east as Jack Tone Road.

Imagine the tunneling implications of groundwater drinking water supply for Manteca, Tracy, Lathrop Stockton and Ripon.

It will hurt fish. It will harm Delta agriculture. And — if the state is right in what its plans are to exclusively use the Merced, Tuolumne, and Stanislaus rivers rather than touch the Sacramento River that is sucking up Los Angles to protect the endangered Chinook salmon — this will be San Joaquin , Stanislaus and Merced counties.

According to the state, their plan to increase water flow might increase the number of Chinook salmon on the three rivers by an additional 1,103 fish. In return, a state-run survey found that 4,000 jobs would be lost in the northern San Joaquín Valley, 130,000 acres of farmland would be valued and the regional economy would take a $12.9 billion hit.

What’s not to like about the Delta Tunnel Plan if you’re a $5 billion Beverly Hills farmer or Southern California homeowner who’d like to add a pool you can fill with water that’s diverted to enter the Delta? to flow?

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