One Tunnel, Same Distrust

State water officials offered an early look at the downsized California WaterFix project earlier this month, and conservationists and far-traveling indigenous tribes say they still believe it has the potential to permanently alter life in and around the Delta.

The old version of California WaterFix, better known as the “twin tunnels,” was opposed by virtually every major environmental organization in the state, as well as fishing alliances, Delta businesses and groups concerned with the cultural and historic resources from Freeport to Walnut Grove.

State-Federal Water Deal Takes a Bite From L.A.’s Supply

With virtually no public notice, state officials quietly gave away a significant portion of Southern California’s water supply to farmers in the Central Valley as part of a deal with the Trump administration in December 2018.

One year later, it remains unclear why the California Department of Water Resources signed the agreement, which strips the agency, during exceptionally dry years, of 254,000 acre-feet of water — about what Los Angeles consumes in six months. This change will place extra strain on urban water users during drought years. The agreement could also have potentially disastrous implications for the Sacramento River’s salmon runs, since it will negatively impact river flows and water temperatures.

Senate Bill 204 Increases WaterFix Oversight

During a town hall meeting in November 2017, the Delta Caucus co-chairs state Sen. Bill Todd (D-Napa) and Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay) opined for more legislative oversight pertaining to the California WaterFix project. Last week they took a step in that direction. Todd introduced Senate Bill (SB) 204, which would require the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the Delta Conveyance, Design and Construction Authority (DCDCA) to submit information about pending State Water Project contracts to the legislature for public review prior to those agencies moving forward with work on the Delta Tunnels.

Congressman Garamendi Says Delta Tunnels Letter Is Full Of Misrepresentations

Congressman John Garamendi’s office (D-Solano) confirmed Wednesday he sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler describing the “misrepresentations” present in the Delta Conveyance Finance Authority (DCFA) Letter of Interest (LOI) for the Delta Tunnels project known as California WaterFix. The DCFA submitted a Letter of Interest to the EPA’s Water Infrastructure, Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan program seeking $9.5 billion in funding for the Delta Tunnels. The total estimated project cost is $19.8 billion.

OPINION: PRO/CON: Is Prop. 3 A Water Fix Or Billionaires’ Windfall?

Proposition 3 would issue $8.9 billion in general obligation bonds for a range of water infrastructure projects. The funding breakdown includes $2.4 billion to restore and protect watersheds and another $4.1 billion for disadvantaged communities seeking to improve their water infrastructure. Prop. 3 would also allocate $640 million for groundwater improvements and $500 million for safe, affordable drinking water. Yes: Initiative’s main backer says Prop. 3 will meet state needs as population grows and climate changes. No: Sierra Club leader says Prop. 3 benefits billionaire stakeholders and could harm the environment.

OPINION: California’s WaterFix Was Always A Dangerous Deal. Now The Trump Administration Is Making It Worse

There are many reasons to oppose the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta water tunnels project, now called the California WaterFix. The Trump administration has just added a few more. The WaterFix is the most controversial and expensive water project in California history. It would install two huge tunnels, at a cost of at least $20 billion, revamping the way the state diverts water from the Sacramento River and the delta to farms and cities to the south. The earlier “peripheral canal” version of this project was voted down in a statewide referendum by a 2-to-1 margin in 1982.

Controversial Bill Could Exempt California WaterFix From Judicial Review

A federal spending bill containing three controversial riders that may impact California water management for decades passed the House of Representatives July 19 and will next face debate in the U.S. Senate. The Fiscal Year 2019 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill (H.R. 6147), was introduced by Rep. Ken Calvert (CA-42). Calvert, who serves as the Chairman of the Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, included a rider identified as Section 437 in the bill that would exempt the California WaterFix project from state and federal judicial review.

Controversial California WaterFix Bill On The Table

A federal spending bill containing a provision that could spell disaster for opponents of the California WaterFix project passed an important hurdle when it was approved by the House Committee on Appropriations last week. The Fiscal Year 2019 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill, introduced by Congressman Ken Calvert (CA-42), includes a rider identified as Section 437. If approved, the rider on page 141 of a 142-page document will exempt the California WaterFix project from state and federal judicial review. 

OPINION: No Denial Here: Solving California’s Water Problems Remains A Top Priority

In a May 10 column on Temperance Flat Reservoir, Bee columnist Marek Warszawski called out local lawmakers who supported the project and said we were in a “state of denial.” Let me be clear: I am not in denial. California’s water issues are complex and not easy to solve. For more than 30 years, I have worked to improve water supply reliability for the San Joaquin Valley and all of California. I take every opportunity to explore solutions to California’s water woes.

Texts Reveal Political Maneuvering Ahead Of MWD’s Delta Tunnels Vote

The days leading up to a key funding vote on the delta tunnels project were marked by intense politicking and head-counting by board members at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. The behind-the-scenes campaign to get the board to approve nearly $11 billion in financing for the water delivery project is spelled out in a series of texts and emails that Metropolitan released Thursday in response to a Public Records Act request filed by two groups that challenged the April 10 approval.