Activists blast twin tunnels water plan at Shasta Lake forum
By Joe Szydlowski
Saturday, April 5, 2014
SHASTA LAKE — A panel of four experts and activists on Saturday explained their opposition to a plan to divert water from the Sacramento River to the San Joaquin Valley using twin tunnels.
“It’s a big greenwash,” said Tom Stokely of the California Water Impact Network and one of the speakers. “It’s a complete boondoggle.”
He and the other speakers, Barbara Barrigan-Parilla of Restore the Delta, Steven Evans of Friends of the River and Caleen Sisk, leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, each presented to the audience of about 25 people before taking questions.
The twin-tunnels project, proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown, would divert up to 9,000 cubic feet of water per second from the Sacramento River to the San Joaquin River.
Brown made the proposal to stabilize the water supply from the delta, while keeping endangered fish safe from pumps.
The $25 billion project also includes a wildlife restoration plan, Stokely said. But the restoration plan is based on unsound science that likely won’t work, he said.
The cost, including debt interest, will run much higher, Stokely said.
Greg Watkins, a Shasta Lake councilman who attended the meeting, said he didn’t know about the debt. But he said the tunnels would seem to be a better alternative to the current process of sending water south.
Watkins said pumps already move the 9,000 cubic feet of water per second to the Clifton Court Forebay. Unlike those pumps, the tunnels wouldn’t suck in endangered fish, including salmon and smelt.
But the water would go mainly to big corporate agriculture and oil wells, said Barbara Barrigan-Parilla of Restore the Delta.
The twin tunnel project would also put more pressure to increase water reserves, thus building new dams or enlarging Shasta Dam, said Evans of Friends of the River.
Raising the height of Shasta Dam would also force the closure of businesses, roads and public facilities near Lake Shasta, costing up to $1 billion in the area, Evans said.
Raising the dam would also permanently submerge much of what remains of the Winnemem’s sacred sites on the McCloud arm of Lake Shasta, said Sisk, the tribe’s leader.