July 12, 2020 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

“Water Fix” Tunnels Arrogance

By Tom Elias, Mirror Columnist| The way environmental activists in California’s Delta region tell it, there is no part of government in this state more arrogant than the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California.

The huge MWD, supplier of water to the majority of the state’s populace, is certainly acting the part as it pushes for a project Gov. Jerry Brown is trying to make an irreversible fait accompli before he leaves office (presumably for the last time) at the end of this year.

That’s the so-called “California WaterFix” or Twin Tunnels project to bring Northern California river water to San Joaquin Valley farms and urban Southern California via gigantic culverts running around and through the delta of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers east of San Francisco Bay. (Another desired Brown legacy is the troubled bullet train.)

No one claims the tunnels project would produce much more water than now comes from the same rivers. But Brown and other supporters assert it would make supplies steadier and more reliable.

His administration and other project backers only lately renamed this the WaterFix because that sounds more positive than tunnels. But environmentalists led by the group Restore the Delta see it not as a fix, but a problem which could deprive the Delta and its fish of much fresh water they now get.

After substantial lobbying by Brown, the MWD’s governing board without a public vote this summer committed millions of its customers to pay a large share of the project’s costs. About the only recourse customers might have would be voting out many of the myriad city council members and county supervisors who make up that board. This is highly unlikely, so added water charges for millions of customers are pretty much assured.

It’s much the same in the San Jose-based Santa Clara Valley Water District, whose much smaller board voted narrowly also to help pay the multi-billion-dollar freight. Agricultural water districts in the San Joaquin Valley that stand to benefit most were reluctant to make similar commitments.

The moves by the urban water districts were the embodiment of arrogance by public officials because they were taken with little public input and without say-so from those who will actually pay. No sooner were those votes over than the water districts and the state formed a partnership for designing and building the tunnels, a move plainly aiming to cement the project in place long before a spade is turned.

Meanwhile, the only time anything like the WaterFix plan got a full public hearing came 36 years ago, after Brown and state legislators authorized building a so-called Peripheral Canal to bring water south around the Delta via a large ditch. A statewide referendum eliminated that plan by a resounding margin. It became political anathema for decades, but the idea plainly stuck in Brown’s mind. The WaterFix amounts to an updated, more expensive, version of the ditch Brown backed long ago.

Then there is the move by a Southern California Republican congressman to cement the project via federal law.

This comes from Rep. Ken Calvert of Corona, one of California’s more secure GOP congressmen, not even close to being a Democratic target this year.

Calvert in May quietly slipped language into a proposed budget bill to ban legal challenges of the tunnels, a move that could instantly end more than two dozen current lawsuits by local governments, water districts, recreational and environmental groups and tribal governments. To Brown’s credit, his administration after months of consideration, now opposes that bill, but it is very much alive in Congress.

“A proposal like (this) raises the question: what are the supporters of the tunnels trying to hide?” wrote Democratic Rep. John Garamendi of Mokelumne Hill, the former lieutenant governor who represents part of the Delta area.

Added Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta, “bypassing due process and violating states’ rights … creates a constitutional nightmare. Tunnels proponents are attempting to rewrite the rules of the game so they can’t lose.”

The water district votes and the Calvert move both represent almost unprecedented arrogance. That makes it high time for some major public and consumer protests over the manner in which Brown and his allies are rushing the tunnels into reality without permission of the people who will pay for them.

Related Posts

Westside Hotel Group Supporting Healthcare Workers

April 20, 2020

April 20, 2020

Shore Hotel, Ocean View Hotel and Santa Monica Motel offering Hero Rates for COVID-19 front line workers By Staff Writer...

Inside Bird’s Zoom Call to Fire Over 400 People

April 6, 2020

April 6, 2020

Scooter company lays off over 400 employees in a single video conference By Sam Catanzaro Recently Santa Monica-based Bird laid...

Westside Favorite Rip City Skate Pegged For Demolishment

December 6, 2019

December 6, 2019

Santa Monica skate shop looking for new location By Sam Catanzaro Rip City Skates opened its doors in 1978 in...

National Burrito Day on the Westside

April 4, 2019

April 4, 2019

By Kerry Slater Today – April 4 – is National Burrito Day. And while every day is burrito day on...

Santa Monica Stabbing: Son Kills Mother, Injures Father

January 25, 2019

January 25, 2019

By Staff Writer An adult son stabbed and killed his mother and critically injured his father in an incident that occurred on...

Opening on Santa Monica City Council

January 11, 2019

January 11, 2019

Application now open to public. By Staff Writer At their regular meeting on Tuesday, January 8, Santa Monica City Council...

Westside Trash Can Arsonist Arrested by Police

January 5, 2019

January 5, 2019

Santa Monica police arrest Joseph Brent Burchett for Arson.   By Staff Writer After several weeks of investigating, the Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD)...

Scooter Pilot Program Kicks Off in Santa Monica, Bringing Lyft and Uber Devices

September 17, 2018

September 17, 2018

Two new scooter operators coming to the Westside.  By Sam Catanzaro Two new e-scooter and bike operators — Lyft and Jump...

Turning Salt Water Into Fresh Water

August 28, 2018

August 28, 2018

Debating the desalination of Santa Monica Bay.  By Staff Writer  It is a myth the greater Los Angeles area is...

Where are the Abalone?

August 21, 2018

August 21, 2018

Bringing back Abalone to West Coast waters.  By Brianna Kwasnik There was once a time on the Westside when you could...

Fromin’s “Deli King” of Santa Monica Retires after 68 Years in Restaurants

August 17, 2018

August 17, 2018

By Charles Trepany A 68-year career spent running restaurants, serving customers and making sandwiches came to a close last Tuesday...

Letter to the Editor: Prop 6 Matters

July 31, 2018

July 31, 2018

Hi there – recently, you published Tom Elias’ syndicated column about the gas tax repeal. I’m writing to request you...

A Frolicking Good Time

July 31, 2018

July 31, 2018

The Annenberg Beach House Annual Community Picnic took place Thursday July 19 and saw families from throughout the region jump...

Missed Tackles, Misplaced Accolades

July 31, 2018

July 31, 2018

SMa.r.t. Column| Our Mayor and Mayor Pro-Tem recently authored an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times (7/12/18) deriding the lawsuit that...

Another Home Run

July 30, 2018

July 30, 2018

By Leanna Einbinder| Two Santa Monica All-Star girls softball teams are heading to the USA National Championship after competing in the...

Comments
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *