[env-trinity] Delta group reveals Brown water bond is not 'tunnels neutral'/Urgent Action Alert: Not one penny for tunnels mitigation

Dan Bacher danielbacher at fishsniffer.com
Sat Jun 28 21:41:47 PDT 2014


Delta group reveals Brown water bond is not 'tunnels neutral'

by Dan Bacher

California Governor Jerry Brown earlier this week discussed with state  
legislators his outline for a $6 billion water bond to replace the  
$11.1 billion bond currently on the November ballot.

His outline for the "Water Action Plan Financing Act of 2014" included  
$2 billion for storage, $1.5 billion for watershed protection,  
watershed ecoystem restoration and state settlements, $1.5 billion for  
water quality and water supply reliability, $500 million for the Delta  
and $500 million for statewide flood management.

Brown's proposed bond would be "BDCP (Bay Delta Conservation Plan)  
neutral," according to an outline that was circulated to legislators,  
some stakeholders and the media.

Responding to Brown's claim, Restore the Delta (RTD), leading  
opponents of Governor Brown’s rush to build massive water export  
tunnels that mainly serve corporate agribusiness interests in that  
Westlands and Kern Water Districts, today rejected the Governor's  
assertion that his proposed state water bond principles are “tunnel  
neutral." They released proposed bond language that would have  
taxpayers foot the bill for the damage from the tunnels project.

The group said the tunnels cannot be built without hundreds of  
millions of dollars to fund “mitigation” of the project’s damage,  
damage the water-takers refuse to pay, and are foisting onto taxpayers.

“The governor’s water bond is not ‘tunnels neutral,’ and his declaring  
it so does not make it true,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, RTD  
executive director. “Much in the same way the proponents of the  
tunnels project named it the ‘Bay Delta Conservation Plan,’ (BDCP) and  
classified construction of the massive 35-mile long tunnels their  
primary ‘conservation measure,’ the governor is perverting the meaning  
of the English language. We are not fooled, and neither will the  
taxpayers who will pay the bill be fooled. This tunnels-enabling  
provision would doom the water bond we all need to address our water  

RTD released language from the Governor’s bond proposal exposing that  
his bond is not "tunnel neutral."

The governor’s proposed Chapter X. Watershed Protection and Ecosystem  
Restoration, Section 79735 B, provides that funds will be made  
available for ‘habitat restoration’ that is part of the BDCP plan, and  
for moving water from willing sellers to habitat areas, a program that  
would have taxpayers pay to replace the required water flows exported  
by the BDCP tunnels.

RTD released BDCP records obtained through the Freedom of Information  
Act showing that the BDCP plans to use bond funds to help fund  
purchases over the next 50 years of up to 1.3 million acre feet of  
water annually from upstream areas, such as the Sacramento Valley.

“These purchases are needed to make up for over-pumping by the new  
water export Tunnels,” said RTD consultant Steve Hopcraft. “Having  
taxpayers fund the replacement of Sacramento River and other water  
taken by the tunnels is an underhanded, back-door program required to  
mitigate the damage the tunnels would cause."

"They can’t get the needed permits without the mitigation. How is that  
'tunnels neutral?' The governor’s own poll shows that the water bond  
will lose if it is a referendum on the tunnels project. This provision  
would be a poison pill and would undermine an otherwise valuable bond  
measure," said Hopcraft.

"We don’t want to campaign against the water bond, because we need to  
put in place sustainable water policies. But we won’t sit by and let  
the governor mislead taxpayers and pretend this funding is not part of  
the tunnels financing plan. Just read the language being proposed in  
his bond and put 1 + 1 together. The tunnels are not worth tubing the  
entire bond, and we urge the legislature to remove this provision and  
leave the fight over the Delta tunnels for another day," he stated.

In bond provisions labelled as BDCP ‘restoration’ and ‘habitat’  
funding, the public would pay to purchase so-called ‘enhanced  
environmental flow’ water from previously identified districts in the  
Upper Sacramento River Basin. This would devastate their groundwater  
supplies. That same water would be diverted into the new BDCP Tunnels  
before it flows into the heart of the Delta.

RTD also released a document obtained through a Public Information Act  
request prepared by the State Water Contractors Authority entitled  
“Stradling Yocca Carlson and Rauthm.” The February 2014 document  
spells out that at this time, there is no financing plan for the BDCP- 
DHCCP peripheral water tunnels project.

According to the BDCP-DHCCP public draft, “[s]eparate financing plans,  
funding agreements, legislative authority, and other documents will be  
needed to enable the use of certain funding sources.” The success of  
the project relies on as yet unfunded $4.1 billion dollars from the  
California State General Fund [17%] and $3.6 billion from federal  
taxpayers [14%].

Hopcraft said, "BDCP proponents need this water bond to begin putting  
the pieces in place to secure the financing for the project. The Brown  
administration knows this, and is trying to bury this funding in their  
proposed bond under watershed protection and is misleading the public  
describing a 'tunnel neutral' bond."

“What can be worse for Californians than not being able to trust the  
Governor to tell us the truth about what funds will be used for in his  
proposed water bond during a period of extreme drought?” asked  

I called the Governor's Press Office and am still waiting for a  
response to Restore the Delta's contention that the Governor's water  
bond is not "tunnels neutral."

The Governor’s Office has to date declined to comment on the specifics  
of his proposal.

"The Governor is concerned about ongoing debt service and its impact  
on future budgets," Brown spokesman Jim Evans said in a statement  

 From the governor’s proposed water bond:

Chapter X. Watershed Protection and Ecosystem Restoration

79731. This chapter implements activities in action numbers 4 and 9 of  
the California Water Action Plan.

79732. The sum of one billion four hundred fifty million dollars  
($1,450,000,000) shall be available for the purposes of this chapter.

79733. Projects eligible for funds provided in Section 79732 shall be  
available upon appropriation by the Legislature for projects that  
protect and restore rivers, lakes and streams, their watersheds and  
associated land, water, and other natural resources.

79734. Of the funds provided in Section 79732, six hundred fifty  
million dollars ($650,000,000) shall be available for appropriation to  
the Natural Resources Agency.

79735. (a) The secretary may directly grant such funds in 79734 to any  
nonprofit organization, conservancy, public agency, or any tribal  
government or community for activities and programs that are  
consistent with and would further existing obligations in state  
settlement agreements or any authorized amendment thereto that achieve  
the ecological goals described in the California Water Action Plan.

(b) Funds may be used for projects that help fulfill state obligations  
to wildlife refuges and wildlife habitat areas under Section 3406(d)  
of Title 34 of Public Law 102-575, including the construction,  
retrofitting, and maintenance of water supply infrastructure and the  
acquisition and conveyance of water supply from willing sellers for  
water transfers of not less than 20 years, purchases of water rights,  
or other agreements that result in long-term enhancement of habitat  

79736. (a) Of the funds provided in Section 79732, eight hundred  
million dollars ($800,000,000) shall be available, upon appropriation  
by the Legislature, to the State Board and the Department of Fish and  
Wildlife for vital species, habitat, or ecosystem restoration  
activities statewide and to achieve the protection of water related  
species and water quality. The State Board or the Department of Fish  
and Wildlife may directly grant to any nonprofit organization,  
conservancy, public agency, or any tribal government or community for  
activities under this section.

(1) Of the funds provided for in this section, at least $200 million  
shall be made available for the enhancement of water flows in stream  
systems statewide. These funds may be used to acquire water if (i) the  
acquisition involves a long-term water transfer for a term of not less  
than 20 years, a purchase of water for instream use, or other  
agreement that results in enhanced stream flow such as reservoir  
reoperation or conjunctive use programs, and (ii) the Department of  
Fish and Wildlife determines that the acquisition, purchase, or  
agreement and the use of funds will provide fisheries or ecosystem  
benefits or improvements that are greater than required environmental  
mitigation measures or compliance obligations. The department shall  
consult with the State Board prior to making such a determination.

(2) Of the funds provided for in this section, at least $200 million  
shall be made available for ecosystem restoration for projects  
statewide. These funds may be used to fund coastal wetland habitat,  
watershed restoration, including activities to improve forest health,  
restore mountain meadows, modernize stream crossings, reconnect  
historical flood plains, install or improve fish screens, provide fish  
passages, restore river channels, restore or enhance riparian habitat,  
and remove sediment or trash. In allocating funds for projects  
pursuant to this paragraph, the State Board and Department of Fish and  
Wildlife shall consider the location of projects such that funded  
projects are geographically distributed throughout the state.

(b) Where it will either limit the cost of administering an activity  
under this chapter, increase the efficiency and effectiveness of an  
activity under this chapter, or will prevent unnecessary delay in its  
implementation, the Department of Fish and Wildlife shall use existing  
programs or procedures when implementing this section, and shall  
contract with the State Board for technical assistance and to aid in  
implementation of this chapter.

Urgent Action Alert: Tell Jerry Brown Not One Penny for Tunnels  

We need to tell Governor Brown we will not sit by and let him mislead  
taxpayers.Tell him that we do not want ONE PENNY of taxpayer money  
used for the environmental water account to be funded for billionaire  
farmers like Stewart Resnick and Westlands mega-growers.

Tell him that we do NOT ONE PENNY of taxpayer money used for "habitat"  
that the BDCP admits is experimental and that independent science  
groups agree will not save fish without sufficient fresh water flows.

Tell Governor Brown, no tunnels and NOT ONE PENNY for BDCP mitigation.

PLEASE CALL NOW! 916-445-2841! And keep calling the next seven days if  
the phone is busy!

SAVE THE DATE! July 29, 2014 "No Delta Tunnels Rally" on the West  
Steps of the Capitol! at 11:30 a.m. Let us know if your group would  
like a table. Watch for details! Buses will be available!

For more information, go to: http://restorethedelta.org/

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