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Delta Flows: Met’s Kightlinger signing off, but his talking points linger

What a week, and it’s just started.

We awoke Monday to the pleasurable sounds of the general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) Jeffrey Kightlinger’s swan song interview with the Water Education Foundation. After 15 years in charge of an arrogant boys club with many issues, Kightlinger is stepping down. 

Takeaway? We outlasted him!

On the Delta Tunnel(s) issue, Kightlinger is asked:
The proposed Delta Tunnel is years away from being complete, assuming all goes according to plan. Will California ever solve the conundrum of protecting the Delta while ensuring reliable water supplies through the State Water Project?

KIGHTLINGER: The progress is very slow, there is no denying that, and it’s frustrating. But on the other hand, I do think there is reason for optimism. … If you look at our last three governors, Schwarzenegger employed a blue-ribbon committee to look at all the California water issues and the conclusion was that we need to enhance our conveyance. Gov. Brown picked it up and pushed forward with the twin tunnels project. Gov. Newsom said that was a little overly ambitious but agreed something needs to be done and supports a single tunnel project. … Having the elected leadership of our state, for the last 15 years, basically say we need to address this problem, tells me that eventually we’re going to get it done.

Maybe the 4th Governor will get it done, Jeff!

Anyway, though Kightlinger is off to embrace his golden years, his talking points sadly remain in the mix. 

In CalMatters, also on Monday, Heather Dyer is CEO and general manager of San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District sings some of his golden oldies over at CalMatters. 

She claims:
“The Delta Conveyance Project essentially eliminates our impacts on endangered fish, which eliminates the losses associated with delivering our water through the Delta. It also ensures the long-term reliability of Valley District’s imported State Water Project supplies, which currently flow through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.“

She also sings the praises of the Sites Reservoir proposal. But here’s the reality of the Conveyance “Tunnel” and other “solutions” she backs in her piece: Truths we have been telling since back when Jeffrey Kightlinger was just learning his talking points.

1. The Delta tunnel does NOT “essentially eliminates our impacts on endangered fish, which eliminates the losses associated with delivering our water through the Delta.”  To the contrary, federal agencies found that for more endangered species WaterFix (Brown-er Twin Tunnels) was WORSE than the status quo.  

2. Governor’s Newsom’s Delta tunnel would enable the CVP and SWP to turn the Delta completely salty, and the agencies likely would do so since the agencies are again waiving water quality standards that protect ag and other users in the Delta this summer. The tunnel is an existential threat to communities in the Delta.

3. Both of these projects are seeking to increase reliance on the Delta, spending tens of billions of dollars chasing after water that will cause even worse impacts to fish and wildlife, fishing jobs, Delta communities. Thankfully, urban communities in SoCal still have huge opportunities to invest in water recycling and other projects to adapt to a future with significantly less water imported from the Delta.


We just wanted to take a moment to thank all of our supporters. 

We continue to be able to fight false narratives and to do this work (with the longevity required to win) because of good people like you. I hope sure we see you at our big online event on June 4!  

– Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director, Restore the Delta