In Case You Missed It: September 8, 2017
Nora Kovaleski, 408-806-6470, [email protected]
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta, 209-479-2053, [email protected]
In Case You Missed It:
Federal Audit Reveals State & Federal Gov.
Improperly Spent $84 Million to Plan for Delta Tunnels
BREAKING—The Associated Press obtained a federal audit completed by the Department of Interior’s Inspector General that discovered the U.S. government improperly used taxpayer money and spent $84 million to help plan Governor Brown’s Delta Tunnels project—a controversial water conveyance proposal that would send Sacramento River water to the Central Valley and Southern California.
The Associated Press via the LA Times reports:
“The audit says that California water districts — and not federal taxpayers — were supposed to bear the costs of the $16-billion water project.
The inspector general says federal authorities also did not fully disclose to Congress or others that it was covering much of the cost of the project’s planning.”
The verdict follows over a year of federal investigation requested by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) who filed a complaint last February that accused the California Department of Water Resources and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation of improperly allocating federal funds intended for wildlife and habitat restoration to the Tunnels project. PEER claimed that of the $60 million in Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act grants spent, not a penny went to habitat improvements.
Executive Director of Restore the Delta Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla said:
“As we knew from research completed by our colleagues over the last few years, funding has been misused to finance the planning of the Delta Tunnels. We are seeing the same type of obfuscation in the financial planning for the construction of the project.
“Central Valley Project contractors cannot afford 45% of the $17 billion initial construction costs without a subsidy. State Water Project Contractors, like Metropolitan Water District are not being honest with their boards about their partners or ratepayers how much it will cost in total. It is a boondoggle that is being shoved onto 98% of Californians who will be paying for generations.
“The truth is Westlands and the other west side San Joaquin Valley growers could not afford the planning process without tax contributions from federal taxpayers. How can MWD or SCVWD partners have confidence in Westlands as a partner for a project that starts at $17 billion?”
It doesn’t make any sense to relocate farms to the southern dry part of our state or to foster farms choosing to grow in almost desert conditions. It would make more sense to use this money to pay off easements and protect California farms from the evident over development of commercial real estate. Additionally, I suspect the water from the tunnels is for projects in Mexico and the Westlands are just a go between.