For Immediate Release: Friday, November 22, 2013
Contact: Steve Hopcraft 916/457-5546; [email protected]; Twitter: @shopcraft; @MrSandHillCrane; Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla 209/479-2053 [email protected];
Peripheral Tunnels Opponents Respond
to USGS Report on Subsidence:
Tunnels will do NOTHING to Address Threat to Valley;
Water Takers Weren’t Supposed to Plant Permanent Crops
Restore the Delta Executive Director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla said:
“San Joaquin Valley’s land subsidence is the real threat to California’s water delivery system.” RTD said the report shows that the Westlands and Kern Water District mega-growers are engaged in unsustainable growing of permanent crops on arid land, and that the governor’s Peripheral Tunnels don’t address this root cause of the state’s water problem.
The San Joaquin Valley’s complicated system of moving water around depends on maintaining water levels and flows in the Delta Mendota Canal and in irrigation canals. But groundwater overdraft in parts of the region is causing the land to subside and the canals to sink. One dam and canal in western Madera County are sinking six inches a year, so the dam won’t be high enough for gravity to push water down the canal.
An engineering geologist with the Department of Water Resources says that two areas subsided up to a foot a year for the past four to five years. And a USGS hydrologist says the lining of the Delta Mendota Canal is actually buckling in some places. One canal has lost 50% of its capacity due to subsidence.
Yet, water rate payers are being asked to subsidize construction of the Brown Administration’s peripheral tunnels so that big corporate agribusinesses in the San Joaquin Valley can prop up its unsustainable economic and environmental model.
“How can California water ratepayers be expected to pay for the construction of the Peripheral Tunnels when the state’s existing water delivery infrastructure is breaking down?” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director for Restore the Delta.
“Exporters have spent millions of dollars creating a public campaign that they are the victims, and that the Delta is the weak link, but these water takers were never supposed to plant permanent crops,” continued Barrigan-Parrilla. “They’ve exhausted their own groundwater supply, and now they are coming after the Delta and upstream rivers to support farms that are not environmentally and economically sustainable. Sending them water is like enabling a drug addict. Is the state’s entire water supply to be sacrificed for almonds to export to China?”