Governor Jerry Brown has “killed” the Twin Tunnels in favor of one tunnel.
What does this mean for Northern California, farmers, and struggling Delta fish?
In a nutshell instead of pumping two bullets directly into their heart at point blank range the governor wants to cut down the ammo budget and just kill off Northern California, farmers and struggling Delta fish with one bullet.
After all, a smooth hit man can do the job with just one shot.
If this is the governor’s idea of compromise or of a holistic approach to the state’s pressing water needs then maybe we should just prepare for the end days of modern California.
It is clear Brown is focused only on his solution. And if you don’t think the goal is to eventually have a second tunnel, then you also believe the high speed train to the poor house will come in under the original budget, on time, and actually have enough riders to pay for itself once it is up and running.
Brown believes the lower cost of one tunnel will make it more palatable for the agencies still willing to help pay for it — primarily the Metropolitan Water District — so a deal can be finalized before he exits office in January.
Given how the tunnel project has been sold in terms of supposedly just securing a reliable flow of water to Los Angeles in the event of an earthquake large enough to trigger the state getting an east-west divorce courtesy of the San Andreas Fault and potentially collapsing levees, it’s a pretty myopic approach to the state’s overall water needs.
If we’re worried about collapsing water infrastructure was Brown in another dimension last year when 200,000 people were given short notice to flee for their lives when the state feared Oroville Dam was on the verge of failing?
What is a higher priority — making sure Los Angeles is inconvenienced with water rationing for a year or so if a major Northern California quake collapsed levees or making sure hundreds of thousands of people aren’t killed because of state neglect of dams built in the north state primarily for the expressed purpose to capture water and send it to LA?
The tunnels are also myopic in the sense the state’s latest Chicken Little reaction to water issues is focused on the “sexy” political issue of climate change and not historic data gleaned from tree rings that accurately reflect annual moisture based on their growth or lack thereof Tree rings strongly suggest mega-droughts are the norm and that we may be in one right now.
There is a difference between water shortage triggered by climate change and water shortfalls created by a mega drought. It lies in how you go about committing resources.
In a nutshell, the climate change crowd would argue addressing greenhouse gases will end or reduce the odds of drought. Water strategies based on the concept of mega droughts emphasize the need for more storage while at the same time becoming more and more efficient and frugal with how we use water.
Again, there is a difference between efficient and frugal. Efficient describes things such as finding ways with moisture senses and more drought tolerant grasses to reduce water consumed to keep ornamental residential lawns alive. Frugal means not planting large decorative lawn areas to begin with in a state that is for the most part acrid.
The Twin Tunnels that is now the Myopic Tunnel was not originally forged from the cry and hues of climate change. It came from a desire by water users not to be subjected to court-ordered cutbacks on water deliveries for fish, to share in the pain when government agencies divert more water to the Delta to keep fish flows healthy in times of drought, and to keep water they get as clean as possible without it running through the Delta where battles with saltwater intrusion and other issues require more expensive treatment before it can be delivered to end users in a good enough quality to drink.
Los Angeles is technically correct when they say they supposedly won’t get another drop of water by building what is now the Myopic Tunnel.
But in reality by taking their share of the pitcher of water before it enters the Delta they isolate their water from being diluted by fish flow needs or dry years in the front end of droughts.
There is also the troublesome issue of the original Twin Tunnel plan that is only on hold until the first tunnel gets built and then the water forces of LA can go for No. 2.
Look at the specifications. Even at peak flows based on current water contracts the tunnels would have been far from full.
So why over design a tunnel for capacity when you’re telling the world from the outset that there will never be any plans to take more water than you’re currently receiving?
If it walks like a turkey, if it gobbles like a turkey, then it is a turkey.
Jerry Brown’s father — the late Gov. Edmund G. Brown — had a true vision when it came to California water development. You may not have agreed with it but the components the senior Brown got started or finished on his watch had something for everyone.
The Myopic Tunnel isn’t much more than a selfish effort by LA to elevate their interests above everyone and everything else including fish.