Home>Articles>After Killing Delta Tunnels in 2019, Gov. Newsom Resurrects the Behemoth Jobs Project

California Bay Delta water (Photo: USGS.gov)

After Killing Delta Tunnels in 2019, Gov. Newsom Resurrects the Behemoth Jobs Project

Newsom is ignoring that California voters passed more than $30 billion in water bonds to build additional water storage and two new reservoirs

By Katy Grimes, July 28, 2022 3:15 pm

In 2019, shortly after taking office, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that he did not support former Gov. Jerry Brown’s $19 billion plan to build two massive tunnels under the San Joaquin River Delta. He said he was a one-tunnel guy. “In his first State of the State speech, Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that he will significantly refashion former Gov. Jerry Brown’s pet projects, including the mismanaged High Speed Rail project, and the Delta Tunnels project will be downsized to one tunnel,” the Globe reported.

Wednesday Newsom resurrected the massive tunnel project – with only one tunnel, which many say will still destroy the Delta. “Some of our favorite wineries, and all of the Delta agriculture could end up under water and/or the land rendered useless if Gov. Jerry Brown’s unnecessary Delta Tunnels project is actually built,” I wrote in 2018.

Under Brown’s each tunnel would be 150 feet below ground, 40 feet in diameter and 30 miles in length. Brown’s original tunnel project is bigger than the English Channel Tunnel.

Gov. Newsom is opting for the Delta Tunnel(s), ignoring that California voters have passed more than $30 billion in water bonds to build additional water storage and two new reservoirs, which would accomplish more water delivery to Southern California without destroying the Delta, its inhabitants, and its prime farmland.

“Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration revived the Delta tunnel project Wednesday, unveiling a downsized version of the controversial, multibillion-dollar plan to re-engineer the fragile estuary on Sacramento’s doorstep that serves as the hub of California’s over-stressed water-delivery network,” the Modesto Bee reported.

Here’s the back story

In May 2019, the Department of Water Resources withdrew its permit application before the State Water Resources Control Board for the twin tunnels project, known as the California WaterFix, and submitted notice to begin planning for a single tunnel conveyance project, the Globe reported.

Gov. Jerry Brown tried repeatedly over the decades to create a Delta “conveyance.” Yet voters rejected Gov. Brown’s 1982 plan to build the “peripheral canal” through the Delta during his first turn as governor. That was to be an above ground waterway that would convey water from north to southern California. Voters killed the plan in 1982, dealing Brown and his family’s legacy a major blow. But that didn’t stop the backers.

The Department of Water Resources pursued a new environmental review and planning process for a single tunnel solution to modernize Delta conveyance,” the California Department of Water Resources reported in 2019. “This fresh approach is consistent with the Governor’s recent executive order directing state agencies to develop a portfolio of statewide water actions and investments. Modernizing Delta conveyance paired with complementary projects that improve water recycling, recharge depleted groundwater reserves, strengthen existing levee protections and improve Delta water quality, is critical to building a resilient water supply for California’s communities and economy,” so said the Water Resources board.

The historic California Delta is formed by the confluence of the Sacramento River and San Joaquin River, two of the state’s largest rivers. Delta agriculture includes livestock, specialty crops such as asparagus, pears, and wine grapes, and various table vegetables and feed crops.

Over 80% of the Delta’s 553,687 acres is in agriculture, of which 75% is classified as Prime Farmland. By comparison, only 18 percent of the state’s agricultural land is classified as Prime Farmland. Additionally, there are 60 islands surrounded by levees, most used for farming.

By the time Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected in 2003 to replace recalled Governor Gray Davis, water groups were back in the Capitol working with Schwarzenegger on their north-to-south water scheme. However, Schwarzenegger didn’t go public with it until nearly the end of his second term – but he was obsessed with the word “conveyance.” When Jerry Brown was elected for his third term, he ran with it in 2011 now claiming the tunnels were needed to protect the Delta Smelt, a non-indigenous fish.

“To protect smelt from water pumps, government regulators have flushed 1.4 trillion gallons of water into the San Francisco Bay since 2008,” Wall Street Journal columnist Allysia Finley wrote in 2015. “That would have been enough to sustain 6.4 million Californians for six years.”

Drought or No Drought?

During his 2016 Presidential campaign, Donald Trump vowed to “open up the water” in drought-stricken California, acknowledging that the “drought” was political. California’s drought conditions are actually historically normal. California’s most recent drought was billed by the state and media as the driest period in the state’s recorded rainfall history. But that is pure hyperbole; scientists who study the Western United States’ long-term climate patterns say California has been dry for significantly longer periods — more than 200 years.

Knowing this truth, one would logically assume that California’s elected politicians would see to it that adequate water storage was the priority, so the residents of the state would not suffer during times of naturally occurring droughts.

Instead, the state of California has flushed trillions of gallons of water out to the Pacific to help save a few fish, instead of providing the water to Central Valley growers and millions of California households.

It’s almost as if California’s politicians have been trying to create a water shortage…

Labor Union Full-Employment Program

“California WaterFix will create 118,772 new construction jobs and $7 billion in employee compensation,” the California WaterFix claimed in 2018. “The result of an updated and reliable water delivery system will protect 980,722 statewide jobs.” The California Water Fix website no longer exists, but labor unions are obviously agitating for the jobs.

The Water Fix and Eco Restore project was previously called the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. When proposed in 2009, the project originally included both plans for building the tunnels and restoring the delta. The Bay Delta Conservation Plan included restoring 100,000 acres over 50 years. The US Fish and Wildlife Service said it would not issue permits for the plan because the state could not prove that the habitat restoration project would help the salmonsturgeon, or delta smelt, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

I met with several Delta farmers in 2018 who’ve been involved in the Delta Tunnels fight since the beginning. According to these growers, when the Department of Water Resources and water contractors morphed the Bay Delta Conservation Plan into “WaterFix,” they dropped the habit restoration façade to just go after the water. A large part of the present habitat restoration was being proposed for the Yolo Bypass but is a separate program – not part of WaterFix.

In the early days of the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force/Bay Delta Conservation Plan/ WaterFix, it was proposed to do habitat restoration (tidal wetlands/ shallow water habitat/riparian forest) for up to 235,000 acres in the higher elevations in a doughnut shape around the Delta. The central part of the Delta was judged to be too deep for restoration and would be allowed to deteriorate and permanently flood over time. Over time the whole primary zone of the Delta would be habitat restoration around the perimeter and flooded in the middle. That plan would get rid of all the people and farming in the Delta. It would allow tidal influence (salt water) to intrude into the whole Delta necessitating the tunnels being at the very north end of the Delta where the Sacramento River water is still high quality – rather than Southern California water companies having to deal with the expense of salt water.

Delta farmers and all in-Delta interests have put up a tremendous fight for more than 15 years to stop the whole project. Department of Water Resources and the water contractors betrayed the environmentalists. DWR and water contractors wanted the taxpayer to pay for the environmental portion of the project. That would have cut the environmentalists out of the deal. With the in-Delta interests and the environmentalists against the plan DWR/water contractors dropped the habitat restoration plan from their project.

The Delta is so important, The Water Education Foundation says Everyone in California depends upon the Delta for something:

  • Drinking water – the Delta provides a portion of the drinking water for 25 million Californians
  • Fresh produce – 45% of fruits and vegetables grown in the U.S. are irrigated with Delta water
  • Fish – 80% of the state’s commercial fish pass through the Delta
  • Irrigation for agriculture – the Delta provides water for 4.5 million acres of the state’s $36-billion agricultural industry with irrigation
  • Wildlife also depends on the Delta, as it provides crucial year-round habitat as well as an important stop for migratory birds.

“In California, it takes about 1.1 gallons of water to grow an almond; 1.28 gallons to flush a toilet; and 34 gallons to produce an ounce of marijuana,” WSJ’s Finley wrote in 2015. Since then, California Gov. Jerry Brown and Newsom legalized marijuana growing, despite that the pot crops use exponentially more water than growing food, fruit or nuts.

In the California Central Valley, much of America’s breadbasket has been reduced to a dustbowl by destructive leftist politics which shut off water to farmers. Is the historic Delta Region next?

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21 thoughts on “After Killing Delta Tunnels in 2019, Gov. Newsom Resurrects the Behemoth Jobs Project

  1. Northern California has no water; has anyone seen the reservoirs? What water are they planning on sending to southern California?
    “….waterway that would convey water from north to southern California. “

  2. What on earth is Newsom up to, given the water history here, and all that money, and what’s NOT been done —- the $30 BILLION since 2000 that Californians voted for —- to build infrastructure and reservoirs as Katy Grimes cited? Is this all about more jobs programs and slush funds and who knows what? “I’m a one-tunnel guy,” says Newsom. You’re definitely a one-man wrecking ball, THAT we know for sure. Most of us wouldn’t trust this guy to supervise the installation of a small backyard koi pond —— why on earth would we trust him anywhere near any Delta tunnel project “resurrection?” Even to talk about it? Please, Gruesome, would you please go run for President, and get out of our hair? We can’t take the wholesale destruction and wasteful spending anymore, and on things we don’t even want. You KNOW what we want. We already repeatedly voted for it. Not that you care. What a mess!

    1. Newsom needs a new project so the Unions can show their appreciation to him and then help his Presidential campaign.

  3. When I tell people in my new home state that CA’s h2o issue is man made, they don’t believe me when I talk about a bait fish and wanting to break down dams that also provide energy for fish. Thanks for educating Katie!

  4. This just proves that all that hair-gel has seeped into what little gray-matter this jackwagon had, AND that he’s just throwing a bone to his union minions…

    And Katy asks “In the California Central Valley, much of America’s breadbasket has been reduced to a dustbowl by destructive leftist politics which shut off water to farmers. Is the historic Delta Region next?”

    Pretty much – the CCP wants that arable land to feed their populace and are standing by to snap up the land at the bankruptcy sales that are the end-game for the California Democrat party, and/or Gavin Newsom himself… there’s undoubtedly a big payoff being made from the CCP at some point – nothing else makes any logical sense…

  5. Let me add that if wineries literally go under near the Delta, his winery benefits! It all comes down to power and money. He also makes his global overlords happy. Agenda 2030 is real, Newsom, Trudeau and Biden have all stepped up their attacks on farmers, fertilizer production, gas and oil. This is very serious and has nothing to do with saving the planet! Read about what is happening in the Netherlands, Sri Lanka and now Italy.

  6. “It’s almost as if California’s politicians have been trying to create a water shortage…”

    ALMOST???

    MOST ASSUREDLY….(emphasis on the ASS(es))

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