Howard Jarvis Taxpayers and Sustainable Water Advocates Slam Tunnel Plan

By Dan Bacher | April 16, 2014 | Politics can make for strange bedfellows, but so can drought, as exemplified by the concurrence be...

By Dan Bacher | April 16, 2014 |

Politics can make for strange bedfellows, but so can drought, as exemplified by the concurrence between the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN) over the enormously expensive pork barrel project known as the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.

Tom Stokely, Media Contact for C-WIN, explained, "California's water scarcity is being used by the Brown administration to push its so-called Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), a hyper-ambitious public works project that would convey water from the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta to south state corporate farms and municipalities via a pair of massive subterranean tunnels."

"The BDCP would cost upward of $100 billion, would do nothing to increase drought water supplies to southern California, and would devastate the Bay-Delta ecosystem, the richest estuary on the west coast of the continental United States," said Stokely. "The California Water Impact Network and allied organizations oppose the project because of its ruinous expense, horrendous environmental impacts, and ultimate inadequacy in addressing California's long-term water dilemma."

"We therefore welcome the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association into our alliance," said Stokely. "Equitable water distribution advocates and conservative taxpayer protection associations do not always agree on the issues."

"But in this case, we are in full accord," he emphasized. "The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association recently issued a statement expressing concern that the BDCP doesn't adequately address the profound fiscal impacts of the project, and decrying indications that the fiscal burden for the scheme will fall on already beleaguered taxpayers and property owners."

In its letter, the Association expresses concerns over the BDCP's unresolved financing and taxpayer issues: "We do not contest the state's existing requirement that water users pay all costs associated with the construction of any new conveyance facility in the Delta. However, there appear to be sufficient doubts among the participating water agencies so as to question whether the projected revenue stream will be sufficient to fund this project."

Further, the association notes, the BDCP seems the latest in a series of ill-conceived state projects that fail to meet established goals but burden residents with ever-spiraling tax bills.

"In recent years, California has undertaken several infrastructure projects which were poorly planned and executed," the organization stated. "High Speed Rail and the Bay Bridge fiasco are but two examples. Our concern is that the BDCP may well be plagued with similar challenges..."

Stokely said, "We couldn't have said it better ourselves."

"C-WIN is looking forward to working with the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and any other group of concerned citizens in the campaign to stop the BDCP," said Carolee Krieger, the executive director of C-WIN. "This fight transcends the usual political divisions. It's about the responsible use of taxpayer money, and it's about making government accountable to the people - all the people."

The construction of the peripheral tunnels will hasten the extinction of Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, as well as imperil steelhead and salmon on the Trinity and Klamath rivers. The plan will remove large tracts of Delta farmland, among the most fertile on the planet, out of agricultural production in order to irrigate toxic, drainage impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and to provide water for oil companies conducting fracking and steam injection operations in Kern County.

Yet the project won't provide one drop of new water. If the tunnels were in operation today, they wouldn't do anything to alleviate the drought.

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