[env-trinity] Plans for Delta water tunnel leaked

Mark Dowdle - TCRCD mdowdle at tcrcd.net
Wed Sep 22 10:05:00 PDT 2010

*Secret plans for 45-mile long Delta water tunnel leaked *

*Central Valley Business Times-9/20/10*

A 45-mile long tunnel that would drain fresh water from the 
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta -- so wide in diameter that small planes 
could fly through it -- is being talked about in secret meetings in 

Broad plans for the tunnel have been worked out, although the planning 
document prepared by the state's Natural Resources Agency with the plans 
says that it is "presented only for purposes of facilitating discussion 
and is not intended as any preliminary or final decision...."

"These are government officials using taxpayer funds to try to develop a 
scheme for spending billions more taxpayer funds and they are doing it 
in a non-public way," says Jonas Minton, water policy advisor for the 
Planning and Conservation League, a Sacramento-based nonprofit lobbying 
organization specializing in environmental issues, and a former deputy 
director of the California Department of Water Resources.

"It includes many, many specifics that are in the form of a proposal. 
And perhaps this was a slip-up, but in the first appendix included with 
the document ... it's actually entitled 'state proposal.'" says Mr. 
Minton. "Although they're saying that this is just an issue paper, it 
certainly comes across as more than that."

Mr. Minton says that at this point there is no indication that others 
involved in Delta water manager, such as environmental groups or 
science-based regulations "have any intention of accepting this proposal."

The Stockton-based group Restore the Delta, which says it advocates "on 
behalf of local Delta stakeholders with government water agencies to 
ensure that water management decisions will protect and benefit local 
Delta communities," says the hush-hush process of the state in trying to 
craft a Delta deal has raised the hackles of state and federal lawmakers.

It says the lawmakers have sent a letter urging Natural Resources Agency 
Director Lester Snow and U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to open up 
the closed-door talks now underway.

The letter includes a series of questions including a request to know 
just who is meeting behind the closed doors and why they were invited to 
participate and others were ignored.

"This most recent exclusion only serves to further frustrate and anger 
those within the Delta community who are genuinely interested in working 
constructively with the state and federal agencies and the newly formed 
Delta Stewardship Council," says the letter. "In short, this new 'Delta 
Principals Group' process represents a return to the closed-door 
deal-making that has historically resulted in further degradation of the 

The letter officially requests that the meetings be more inclusive and 

Signing the letter were U.S. Reps. John Garamendi, D-Sacramento; Doris 
Matsui, D-Sacramento; Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton; George Miller, 
D-Martinez; and Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, along with state Sen. Lois 
Wolk, D-Davis; state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, 
D-Sacramento; state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord; and state Assembly 
Members Bill Berryhill, R-Ceres; Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo; Alyson Huber, 
D-El Dorado Hills; Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch, and Mariko Yamada, D-West 

While the Natural Resources Agency is talking water tunnels, other 
groups are going about their missions involving the fate of the Delta.

The new Delta Independent Science Board (ISB) comprised of 10 nationally 
and internationally prominent scientists is scheduled to hold its first 
meeting Sept. 30-Oct. 1.

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Reform Act of 2009 established the 
Delta ISB, whose members were to be appointed by the Delta Stewardship 
Council, which was also created by the Delta Reform Act as an 
independent agency of the state of California. The Delta ISB replaces 
the previous CALFED Independent Science Board.

The meeting is set for 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 in the 
Delta Room, 5th Floor at 650 Capitol Mall, Sacramento.#


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