Brown: Delta water diversion plan needed for California's future

4:30 PM, Jul 25, 2012   |    comments
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta
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SACRAMENTO, CA - With the blessing of the Obama Administration, Gov. Jerry Brown said he's figured out how to fix the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta problems so water from Northern California can be delivered to the farmlands of the Central Valley and the thirsty cities of Southern California.

The plane: to build three new pumps that divert water from the north end instead of the south end, it involves building a massive twin tunnel system under the delta south of Sacramento then hooking them up with existing aqueducts.

RELATED STORY: Delta water diversion plan unveiled; opponents rally

Water users would pay for the nearly $14 billion for the construction of the tunnels, and taxpayers would bear the cost of habitat restoration through an $11 billion water bond that's on the ballot in two years.

"A healthy delta eco-system and a reliable water supply are profoundly important to California's future," Brown said.

The current system only has one pump and could kill hundreds of thousands of fish a year, including the endangered delta smelt.

A court order often stopped water deliveries for the sake of marine life and farms found it tough to make a living.

Opponents like environmentalists have already given the plan a thumbs down because it hasn't been scientifically vetted.

It's unclear what effect a different diversion point and new water flow of 9,000 cubic feet per second through the tunnels will have on the fish.

"They have put the plumbing before the policy," Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, said. "They have put the canal, or the tunnel, before the science. They intend to build and then figure out how it can be used."

Brown acknowledged some will dislike his plan, but he's forging ahead because he wants to end the decades-old water wars.

"I want to get sh** done," Brown said. "I want to get this thing done the best I can, alright?"

Brown's tunnels do not need legislative approval because it's already authorized through the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, but environmental reviews and permits are still needed.

By Nannette Miranda


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