Bureau of Reclamation Regional Director David G. Murillo has confirmed that federal taxpayers are being billed for Twin tunnels project.
To date, more than $86.9 million of the costs for the project has have been billed to federal taxpayers.
The Bureau of Reclamation’s response to a letter sent on Jan. 25, 2016 by various conservation groups affirmed the tunnels project is not authorized by Congress and they have no plans to conduct the required feasibility study or pay the construction costs which will more than double the current State Water Project debt to be paid by ratepayers and property taxpayers if permitted.
The Environmental Water Caucus, along with several of its member groups who sought answers regarding this gouging of the federal taxpayers, called on the State Auditor to investigate why state laws requiring federal contractors such as Westlands Water District are shirking their responsibilities to pay for the water export tunnels environmental review.
“State ratepayers and taxpayers are footing the bills along with folks in New Jersey, while Westlands, the largest irrigation district in the nation, funds phony advertising campaigns hiding behind their hard working farm workers, to solicit even more taxpayer dollars to fund this expensive risky tunneling project,” stated Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla of Restore the Delta. “We are calling on the State Auditor to investigate.”
“As federal investigators probe the California Department of Water Resources overcharges, double billings and $300+ per hour charges to the federal government for the water export tunnels, the Bureau of Reclamation’s admission that federal contractors such as Westlands, have not paid their required 50% share of the tunnels in accordance with state law, needs to be investigated,” asserted Conner Everts, Executive Director of the Southern California Watershed Alliance and the Environmental Water Caucus. “How have the federal contractors been shirking their duties under state law to pay for the CA WaterFix environmental analysis, while the state contractors (ratepayers) are pouring money into the effort (over $60 million from MWD alone, to date)?”
“In response to our questions, it is clear Congress and the American people are being misled,” stated Tim Sloane, PCFFA Executive Director. “While our salmon heritage hangs on the brink of extinction and toxic algae blooms build, funds to protect fish and wildlife and restore the Delta Estuary have been diverted to fund water tunnel export plans to take even more essential fresh water from this critical estuary.”
“The largest irrigation district in the nation which receives hundreds of millions in taxpayer subsidies, Westlands Water District wants the nation to not only give them a permanent water contract for free with virtually no strings as to how they will contain their toxic groundwater pollution, now we find out they have been gaming their responsibility to pay for these expensive tunnels to export even more water to these toxic lands,” explained Carolee Krieger, Executive Director of California Water Impact Network. “Continuing to send more water to irrigate these toxic soils at taxpayer expense makes no sense.”