The Twin Tunnels Project
C-WIN is campaigning against the Twin Tunnels project. Find out more.
Check out C-WIN's report: "Why We Cannot Afford the Peripheral Canal: The Cost of Water for Santa Barbara County."
Update, June 7, 2012: Check out C-WIN Board member Bill Jennings' opinion piece in the San Francisco Chronicle: https://www.c-win.org/content/voters-will-kill-peripheral-canal.html.
The California State Water Project pulls fresh water from the Sacramento River through the Delta to pumps near Tracy that export the water to San Joaquin Valley agribusinesses and Southern California cities and suburbs.
The Sacramento River is now the major source of fresh water for the Bay-Delta estuary, since the federal government began exporting San Joaquin River water to agribusinesses in Tulare and Kern counties in the 1950s. The Delta hasn't been the same since.
If approved by the State of California, a Peripheral Canal (now "Twin Tunnels," as it has become) would instead deliver Sacramento River water around or under the Delta to export pumps. The Canal/Tunnel (some call it a "Chunnel") would isolate the water from the Bay-Delta estuary to protect its quality from tidal mixing in order to get the water to the pumps for conveyance to special interests in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California.
The justification for the project is earthquake risk and levee failure to the Delta. However, looking at a map of California's earthquake risks, the Delta is much less vulnerable than the California Aqueduct, which parallels the San Andreas Fault and cross it. Check out the map here.
The Delta estuary is home to several important endangered species teetering on the brink of extinction, including several runs of salmon, steelhead, and open water resident fish like Delta smelt. Removing still more fresh water from the Delta estuary would leave it only the most currently polluted water flowing in from the San Joaquin River, itself designated an impaired water body by the State Water Resources Control Board.
The Twin Tunnels would be an expensive boondoggle: Cost estimates range from $14 billion to at least $53 billion just to construct it. Operating the Canal/Tunnel will cost hundreds of millions more each year, and those receiving water from it will do their utmost to make sure someone else pays the high costs that will result. Water projects are notorious for securing taxpayer and ratepayer subsidies to benefit agribusiness corporations and real estate developers.
The Twin Tunnels is a direct attack on the senior water rights of Delta farmers and on the fisheries and ecosystems of the Delta estuary. In the Delta, water rights are a matter of water quality. When fresh water is exported south of the Delta, the rights of Delta farmers are adversely affected: their property rights are injured without adequate compensation.
For California rivers and streams, the Twin Tunnels would perpetuate "Paper Water," water that was promised in contracts or state-issued water rights permits, but which does not exist in Nature. When "Paper Water" is actually delivered, it is take from other water right holders (such as those in the Delta) and from Nature, with disastrous economic and ecological results.
The San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta endures many threats to economic sectors relying on its water, fish and wildlife.
Despite these continuing threats, there are also solutions to the Delta's problems.
C-WIN here provides links to descriptions of the threats posed and solutions for the Delta.
See our Delta Public Trust Lawsuit Press Room.