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Anything but Twin Tunnels

A push for other solutions for water, flood control & Delta protection

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Anything but Twin Tunnels

A growing coalition believes the Twin Tunnels will devastate the Delta, farming, and critical habitat.

HIME ROMERO/ The Bulletin/


POSTED November 5, 2013 12:00 a.m.

STOCKTON – Rogene Reynolds lives on two acres of farm land on Roberts Island.

This region of the South San Joaquin Delta is deep rooted, belonging to her family since 1889.

At Monday’s Delta Coalition community forum at the University of the Pacific Alumni House, Reynolds, who was part of a distinguished panel, said the Bay Delta Conversation Plan would greatly impact the place she calls home.

“(BDCP) would take 20 percent of prime farm land, using eminent domain,” she said.

The “Real Delta Story” forum was held with the purpose of providing information and education about the Delta as an essential environmental and economic resource for agriculture.

Rather than Gov. Brown’s peripheral tunnels – Restore the Delta, a non-profit,  grass-root effort that’s 15,000-members strong,  believe  this plan would drain the Delta, in turn, dooming the salmon industry including the indigenous Chinook not to mention other wildlife species – Reynolds and others  support fat levees such as the one in Jones Tract.

The Delta makes up about one-third of San Joaquin County land, including 87 percent of that devoted to agriculture. Grown here are high volume commodities such as pears, wine grapes, asparagus, turf-grass, cherries, blue berries, tomatoes and other produce.

Reynolds said her area is home to 11 different types of fish, 28 species of wildlife and 18 varieties of plant.

One such species are the Sandhill Cranes.

Barbara Barrigan-Parilla, who is executive director for Restore the Delta, noted that the Sandhill Cranes migrate each year to State Island near the Sacramento River town of Walnut Grove. BDCP would use a portion of this land as the staging area for construction of the twin tunnels.

“You can’t relocate (Sandhill Cranes),” she said. “They migrate as a family and always in the same area.”

Barrigan-Parilla foresees “interruption to agriculture” as construction would bring in 100,000 workers, 3,000 barge trips, and ground-shaking noise caused by pile drivers and other heavy duty equipment.

Jeff Michael has been the director of UOP’s Business Forecast Center since 2009.  He believes in investing in a “sustainable levee system” over that of tunnels as a better alternative to California’s water crisis and preservation of the 1,000 miles of waterways.

BDCP’s plan of installing tunnels, said Michael, agreeing with experts, would be at earthquake risk.

“Why stick with this project? It doesn’t make sense,” he said.

John Herrick, who serves as attorney and general manager for the South Delta Water Agency, noted that the Delta levees have held up better than thought.

“We should have had 75 floods in the Delta in the past seven years,” he said, looking at old data provided by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.

 Along with strengthening levees, Ken Vogel, who chairs both the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors and the Delta Conservancy, added that constructing new reservoirs, recycling ground water, and improved water management, among the alternatives.

“The eight valley counties should also work together to come up with better solutions,” he said.

In fact, the last large construction of a reservoir, according to state Sen. Cathleen Gagliani (D-Stockton), was New Melones in 1979.

She pointed out that Temperance Flat, located just above Friant Dam, could serve as a possible site for a reservoir.  “We need to capture spring water that would otherwise be lost to the Sea,” Gagliani said.

Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton) and Supervisor Larry Ruhstaller believe the infrastructure is in need of a big fix.

“We have old leaky pipes and sewer plants that should be upgraded,” said Ruhstaller, who chairs the Delta Protection Commission and a member of the Delta Stewardship Council.

State Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis) said water issues in California will continue regardless of the outcome with BDCP.

“That struggle will go on for years,” she said. “So we need to form allies with other coalitions (throughout the state).”

Restore the Delta is scheduled to host a special eminent domain and BDCP response workshop at the Reserve at Spanos Park (Mount Diablo Room), 6301 W. Eight Mile Rd., Stockton, on Wednesday, Nov. 13, from 4 to 8 p.m.

Those opposed to BDCP – in this case, Delta landowners, marina owners, and residents along these waterways – are invited to attend the workshop.

Featured speakers will be attorney Tom Keeling and Melinda Terry, who is general manager of the North Delta Water Agency.

A $20 donation is suggested at the door.

For more information, call 209-475-9550 or log on to www.restorethedelta.org.

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