Strong Coalition Files Suit, Challenges State Tunnels’ Financing

September 18, 2017 |

State Validation Process Would Allow Bond Measures to Move Forward Without Detailed Plans, Clear Financing Responsibility or Completed Environmental Review
A legal challenge to the financing of the WaterFix Twin Tunnels has been filed by three environmental organizations joined by the California Indian Water Commission. The State’s is asking for $11 Billion in bonds without identifying the sources of revenue or indicating how total costs will be shared with the Central Valley Project, its Federal partner in the WaterFix.
“The State would like a blank check from rate payers to finance the Governor’s tunnels,” said Carolee Krieger, President of the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN.) “With only 10-percent of the WaterFix engineering and design completed, there is no reliable cost estimate for the tunnels’ financing.  This Validation proceeding is premature until these important issues are settled” 
The State Validation process, if unchallenged, would allow bonds to be issued for tunnel construction without legislative or individual contractor’s consent. Contesting the State Water Resources Control Board validation of financing for the tunnels are C-WIN, AquAlliance, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) as well as the Federally recognized California Indian Water Commission. 

"State agencies are driven by the Governor to try and solidify every step of the WaterFix before he leaves office," said Barbara Vlamis, executive director of AquAlliance. "Fortunately we are part of a strong team that is equally determined to protect the source waters in the Sacramento River watershed," she concluded. 

"The California Indian Water Commission's involvement in this filing is about upholding traditional indigenous responsibilities to the lands and waters of California," said Don Hankins, President of the CIWC. "With this filing, we affirm our commitment to future generations through protection of the lands and waters of this state, and the associated organisms, which we also maintain obligations to," he added.

In a recent ruling by the 9th District Court of Appeal, federally reserved Indian water rights have precedent over all state and federal water rights. This puts a new twist on how much water there really will be available for the tunnels or any other project.

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