LATHROP – The City of Lathrop voted months ago to stand united with other San Joaquin Delta-area communities against an appointed commission with power over land use decisions.
But on Monday they put their money where their mouth was.
After a brief discussion the council voted 4-1 – with Mayor Joseph “Chaka” Santos dissenting – to give $8,000 to the Delta Initiative Coalition to help fund a coordinated effort to fight the Delta Stewardship Council. Some fear could become a tool for Governor Jerry Brown in his quest to build tunnels to divert water from the Sacramento River around the Delta and into a series of aqueducts and canals.
Dubbed the “peripheral tunnel”, it is a spinoff of the peripheral canal advocated by Brown the last time he was governor that voters defeated in a ballot initiative in 1982. The project would take the fresh, clean Sacramento River water that now flows through the San Joaquin Delta and dilutes the saltwater from the San Francisco Bay and send it down to the Westlands Water District for irrigation and Southern California for drinking purposes.
It would deliver the water via two massive underground pipes that would run for 37 miles from the Sacramento River to the federal and state pumps in Tracy.
Opponents claim that without the freshwater flowing through, a saltwater estuary would be left that would decimate agricultural practices in the region and cast a fallout through the communities. The damage would range from saltwater intrusion into ground wells to ravaged fish populations.
“I think we need to fight this fight jointly. If cities start backing out this thing will fall apart,” said Councilman Sonny Dhaliwal. “We need to do whatever we can to fight for the Delta.”
Santos said he wasn’t a fan to shelling out $8,000 for the cause. He added that there was always room for “negotiating” – saying he’d feel more comfortable to give a smaller amount.
He appeared to take issue with the context that Interim City Manager Steve Salvatore put the donation in.
“If this happens it could be devastating for this whole region,” Salvatore said. “In the context to participate in something that’s much bigger than us, it’s not that much.”
Stockton Mayor Ann Johnston has been the face of the coalition ever since its inception. She made a public plea for the funds during the council’s meeting two weeks ago.
The funding will be used to pay for the services of a Sacramento lobbyist to represent the area’s interests in the crucial coming months. Brown’s plan calls for construction to begin in 2017 and completion to come in 2026.