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Lies, damn lies, and the Twin Tunnels

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POSTED August 8, 2013 11:04 p.m.

The Twin Tunnels propaganda is a classic case of double talk.

California’s big water interests keep assuring folks that the net result of investing anywhere from $28 billion to $60 billion depending upon who you believe will be the taking of no additional water from the Delta. They also say it won’t harm the Delta.

Trust those statements as much as you would having the mayor of San Diego around your daughter.

On the surface, both assertions ring true. But ponder it for a few minutes and you realize the Twin Tunnels might more aptly be called the Mother of All Trojan Horses.

They could theoretically create a system where salt water intrusion is kept at a minimum through carefully placed levees and intentional flooding of islands. But salt water runs deep. Less fresh water flowing through the Delta means less seepage into underground aquifers. And if other tributaries have to contribute greater amounts of water to keep the Delta clear of salt water during droughts  that means further drafting of underground aquifers. The result will be salt water intrusion far from the Delta that could render domestic and farm wells useless.

The use of water almost elusively from San Joaquin River basin tributaries to flush the Delta when the $28 billion to $60 billion re-engineering of water flows fails to protect fish and keep salt water at bay means Los Angeles and massive colonies of corporate farming interests such as the Westlands Water District will indeed get more water. That’s because in dry years less southbound water will be used to solve Delta environmental concerns. They may actually take less water in such years but compared to those who rely in the various tributaries of the San Joaquin River watershed, the cutback will be a drop in the bucket.

Long before man tinkered with the Delta and created levees and ultimately the California Aqueduct, all of the Sacramento River water flowed into the San Francisco Bay as did that on the San Joaquin River.

Volume wise, there is more water that runs into the Delta from the Sacramento River watershed. The amount of San Joaquin River water that makes it if the Delta was cut drastically in the 1920s when the City of San Francisco put in the first “tunnel” bypass of the Delta — the Hetch Hetchy pipeline — to make sure a good share of the Tuolumne River water never flowed that far.

Los Angeles et al are doing the same thing that San Francisco did but on a much larger scale. San Francisco never has water deliveries cutback by court orders or dry years because they have conveniently bypassed the Delta. If the Twin Tunnels are built neither Los Angeles nor corporate farmers will be forced to contibute to environmental solutions. That leaves the poorest and most powerless region of the state — the San Joaquin Valley — holding the bag.

The Twin Tunnels is about insuring the largest water deliveries as possible to Los Angeles and corporate farmers. In order to accomplish that it has to put interests in most of the San Joaquin Valley and the Delta at risk.

You will hear a lot of wolf crying about how fragile the Delta levees are and how an earthquake that would have to be large enough to level San Francisco, Los Angeles and drop a third of California into the ocean will collapse levees and disrupt water supplies.

Funny, but just 23 years ago during the Peripheral Canal debate — Twin Tunnels Version 1.0 — barely a whisper was mentioned of earthquakes and levee stability. It was a much more honest argument. Los Angeles and corporate farmers wanted more water. Now they don’t want more water, they simply want to keep getting the same amount. It’s doublespeak. In reality, they want to maximize their take of water, period. Why else would you invest the gross national product of a Third World Country to supposedly not improve the bottom line?


This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com or 209-249-3519.

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