Zombie Tunnel Project back to life as the Delta Conveyance

  • Posted on 22 February 2021
  • By Caty Wagner - SoCal Water Organizer, Sierra Club California
For many years we have opposed this project through its many iterations. The Peripheral Canal of the 80’s, the Bay Delta Conservation Project of the 00’s, the California WaterFix & Eco Restore Project of the 10’s and now the 20’s The Delta Conveyance project. Whether informally known as the twin tunnels, the tunnel boondoggle or the tunnel, we are forever hard at work to preserve and protect the Sacramento- San Joaquin  Delta, the only and largest freshwater tidal estuary on the West Coast.
This month, Metropolitan Water District (MWD) joined at least 24 other water agencies in amending the state water contract provisions regarding water transfers, exchanges, and ratios. This allows water districts to sell their surplus water to each other, which comes with a host of pros and cons. Metropolitan Water District has 26 member agencies and 19 million customers. As such a large water agency, MWD has deep pockets and connections and lobby heavily in support of the Delta tunnel.
In December, MWD voted unanimously to fund the next two phases of the Delta Conveyance project. This decision joined 27 other water districts around the state. In discussions with board members, the vote seemed to be split when the question was to fund the tunnel or not, but then four options were proffered: no tunnel, delayed vote, pay for only MWD’s share, or MWD’s share and an additional portion. Tunnel proponents hoped for MWD to sign on to the additional portion, but the Sierra Club and allies submitted 2,000 emails and 60 calls, lasting nearly 4 hours, and was able to stop it.
The Department of Water Resources will be conducting an environmental impact review this year and next on the consequences and effects of the Delta tunnel. There will be no votes in 2021, but this is our time to build an army and get the word out about the environmental disaster that this project is. Sierra Club California’s recent poll shows that when most Californians learn the details of the tunnel, they oppose it, no matter their background or where they live. We need to make sure Californians know how expensive, wasteful and destructive this project is.
In April, MWD is expected to determine whether or not to raise property taxes, and that increase in funding will provide revenue that may be used in funding the tunnel in the future. This comes at a time when Californians, mostly in LA County, have racked up over $1 billion in debt over their water bills as they struggle with the pandemic and high rates of unemployment. We will be calling MWD that month to give public comment urging the board not to raise property taxes. If you want to join the fight, sign up here and receive updates and opportunities to take action.

[Header photo: Bay Delta Salmon - Sierra Club California all rights reserved]

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