There is a much less expensive alternative to the Brown Bore - the twin tunnels that the governor wants to drill to allow Sacramento River water for Los Angeles and corporate farmers to bypass the Delta.
It’s actually a mini-version of the 37-mile tunnel plan. It involves building two short tunnels near Tracy underneath the Old River and flooding several Delta islands.
The proposal was floated by Assemblyman Bill Berryhill after consulting with water experts who aren’t on the payroll of the state, Los Angeles area concerns, farmers or environmentalists.
It accomplishes the same exact goals - at least those that parties publicly admit to - as the Brown Bore. It addresses fish kill at the pumps, restores Delta wetlands, and protects the relative cleanness of water going into the California Aqueduct for its journey south. Combined with levee enhancements it protects the delivery of water in the event of a major earthquake. It better protects the Delta and its fish plus it doesn’t set in motion events that will require farms and cities dependent on the watershed of the San Joaquin River and its tributaries to be sacrificed in the name of Los Angeles and big corporate farm water interests.
What it doesn’t do is provide the maximum construction jobs for a relatively short term period nor does it assure Los Angeles will never have to worry about water it has been commandeering from the north state to ever be subjected to reduction due to drought or court order to protect the fish and the environment of the Delta.
There are those who contend Gov. Jerry Brown never learned the lessons of his first go-around with pushing a Delta conveyance back, when the Peripheral Canal fight in 1982 up ended California politics during his first stint as governor.
That’s not true. His plan this time is a true bypass. It bypasses the voters by shifting the $14 billion cost for the tunnel portion to water users in LA and corporate farms on the west side of the Southern San Joaquin Valley. They are the only folks who will benefit from the twin tunnels.
Brown can argue that he isn’t completely bypassing voters as they will get a chance to say yea or nay to a companion $10 billion plan to protect the Delta from the ravages that the twin tunnels will inflict on the Delta environment. Of course, if voters say no, LA and corporate farms owned by a number of Fortune 500 companies will have their water and the Delta will be ruined.
It fits well into the design of the style of Big Government 101. Sacrifice the weak for the benefit of the strong. Just like Washington, D.C., sacrificed Main Street for Wall Street in The Great Recession, Sacramento will sacrifice the less moneyed for the benefit of wealthier and more powerful concerns when it comes to California water.
Not a bad day’s work for a man who in his younger days as governor in a time that now seems far, far away embraced the philosophy of E.F. Schumacher’s book “Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered” to the point that it was his governing mantra.
This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 209-249-3519.