Stockton, CA — Executive Director of Restore the Delta, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla released the following statement regarding Santa Clara Valley Water District’s California WaterFix vote:
“Yesterday afternoon, Santa Clara Valley Water District agreed to moving forward with a project named California WaterFix, yet with funding capped at $600 million in 2017 dollars (minus interest), and for possibly one tunnel.
“The San Jose Mercury News and the Sacramento Bee reported that Santa Clara’s vote is a rejection of California WaterFix as proposed presently.
“Governor Jerry Brown and Secretary Laird released statements that claimed victory because Santa Clara Valley Water District was moving ahead in supporting California WaterFix to get ‘the water they need.’
“These contradictory views of Santa Clara Valley’s vote reveal the deep disarray that this project is in. Governor Brown wants to sell the vote as a win. Yet, Santa Clara’s support, just like the Kern County Water Agency vote of 48.5 percent to pass a motion of support, is for something other than California Water Fix. So many conditions have been placed on the terms of support (including description of a scaled back project) that it feels like a bait and switch is being set in place for a new project.
“The truth is that Metropolitan Water District voted to fund 26 percent of WaterFix, Kern County came up short with approval of 6.5 percent funding at $1 billion, and now SCVWD has voted for about 4 percent support at $600 million. That suggests that total State Water Project funding for the project (with other small contributing agencies on board) is shy of 40 percent. In other words, Governor Brown doesn’t even have half the contributions for WaterFix bond sales lined up to move forward. Is this because 40 percent is enough for one tunnel—a project that has not been set to paper?
“While some politicians and environmental groups like the idea of a single tunnel, the single tunnel concept has never been evaluated within CEQA/NEPA documents, or in the permitting process in front of the State Water Resources Control Board.
“We at Restore the Delta prefer improved through Delta conveyance with no tunnels, coupled with a large volume of regional water projects that promote regional self-sufficiency and reduced reliance on the Delta as required by law.
“However, the through Delta (no tunnel) conveyance method, the single tunnel, and other viable Plan B’s, should be studied together side-by-side in a public and transparent manner. If the project cannot stand up to public scrutiny, then it is a bad project. And not telling the public in a forthright manner if the project is being revised is bad policy.
“This is why we are calling on Governor Brown to handle future water planning the right way. Delta water agencies, local Delta government, Delta public interest groups, Bay Area environmental groups, Northern California water interests and public interest groups, Northern California Tribes, environmental justice groups, commercial and sport fishing interests, and urban ratepayer groups should be welcomed to the table for analysis and discussions with water exporters as the project undergoes another revision. Project revisions need to stop being held in secret by the Governor’s office, water exporters, and the Department of Water Resources. All of California will be impacted by the project, and the Governor needs to treat all Californians’interests equally.
“No groups in California should ever have to pursue a Public Records Act Request and advocate for a State Audit to find out what is being/will be spent on a project, who is paying what portion, or what is being considered for construction, financial and operational planning. The private phone calls from the Governor to water district officials, and political wheeling and dealing needs to end. It is time for transparency, honesty, and a real public process.”
For immediate release: October 18, 2017
Nora Kovaleski, 408-806-6470, [email protected]
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta, 209-479-2053, [email protected]