State, Feds Request 60-day Extension on Delta Tunnels Hearings; Howard Jarvis Assoc Weighs-in

By Dan Bacher | 

Every day, it seems that Governor Jerry Brown’s California Water Fix to build the Delta Tunnels is getting closer and closer to collapsing.

Today the California Department of Water Resources and the U.S. Department of Interior sent a joint letter (see below) to Hearing Chair Tam Doduc and Hearing Officer Felicia Marcus of the State Water Resources Control Board requesting a 60-day continuance of the Hearing on the California Waterfix Water Rights Petition.

“Based upon recent success settling issues raised in the EIR/EIS process and ongoing discussions with protestants, Petitioners believe that a continuance could provide additional time to resolve other protests to simplify and expedite the hearing process,” the letter said. “The additional time would also reduce the State Water Board’s burden of analyzing and deliberating on a number of parties' claims and scope of the hearing.”

“Within 30 days of granting this continuance, Petitioners propose to submit at update to the State Water Board to report on their status, potential proposed permit conditions, and any other additional modeling in support of the project description,” the letter stated. 

In other news pointing to the plan’s imminent collapse, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association recently sent a letter suggesting legal action against Zone 7 Water Agency and the Santa Clara Valley Water District, arguing against Delta Tunnels financing, as the San Jose Mercury News reported.

“The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association -- founded by the co-author of Proposition 13 -- sent water agencies in Silicon Valley and Alameda County a letter suggesting possible legal action. The letter argued that the tunnels were not part of the original State Water Project plan and that any property tax hike to fund them would be illegal without voter approval,” according to the Mercury News.

Timothy Bittle, the association’s attorney, said "What the voters approved in 1960 doesn't say anything about tunnels.”

Then in an action alert today, Restore the Delta (RTD) noted, “The Delta Tunnels project is on ‘thin ice.’ The plan is in major need of continued financial support from smaller urban agencies such as Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) and Zone 7 Water Agency in Alameda County.”

The Tunnels supporters are becoming increasing desperate in their campaign to salvage the Delta Tunnels plan, a project that that is based on the absurd notion that taking more water out of the Sacramento River will “restore” the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary.

In their new petition alert, Californians for Water Security, the Stewart Resnick Big Ag front group, is asking Californians to send emails in support of the Delta Tunnels/CA Water Fix to Santa Clara Valley Water District’s Board. Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) needs to hear from California ratepayers like you that will actually pay the costs, RTD pointed out.

“Let’s make sure the tunnels plan does not get this support! We need you to counter their action,” RTD urged.

The group recommended sending an e-mail to SCVWD telling them:

Dear Santa Clara Valley Water District Board Members, 

First off, I would like to express my appreciation that the Board recognizes that it should consult with ratepayers regarding parcel taxes for financing the Delta tunnels project. You are off to a good start.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, however, recently said in the San Jose Mercury News that raising property taxes for Delta Tunnels would violate Proposition 13 and could lead to lawsuits. As a water ratepayer and property taxpayer, I do not want to pay money for a project that will not create additional water supply, but mostly benefit corporate agriculture in the southwestern San Joaquin Valley. 

In addition, as Westlands and San Luis Delta-Mendota Water Authority have recently been placed on negative credit watch after being fined by the SEC for engaging in a little Enron accounting, it is clear that these agencies cannot be counted on to contribute a 40% capital share toward the tunnels.

The Delta Tunnels would violate not only our federal and state standards of environmental and social justice law, but California tax law. As part of the Bay-Delta region, it makes sense for SCVWD to align itself with other Bay-Delta communities to protect the long-term health of the SF Bay-Delta estuary.

Please vote no against continued CA WaterFix/Delta Tunnels support. Save the Bay-Delta estuary for our children and future generations. 

For more information about Nut King Stewart Resnick, one of the key proponents of the Delta Tunnels, and his deep connections to UC Davis and UCLA, click here

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