California’s largest boating group says “No thanks” to Jerry Brown’s water-stealing Delta Tunnels

  • Published on August 10th, 2017

The Recreational Boaters of California (RBOC), a non-profit organization serving the boating community, on August 3 announced its opposition to Governor Jerry Brown’s California WaterFix/ Delta Tunnels, a massive construction project that they say could “seriously impact” boaters’ access to the Delta for many generations to come.

By Dan Bacher Stop the Delta Tunnels protest

“The 1,000 miles of waterways in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta comprise a unique and treasured resource for California’s 3 million recreational boating enthusiasts,” the group said in a position paper.

RBOC joins a growing number of fishing groups, Tribes, conservation groups, environmental justice organizations, family farmers, Delta residents, businesses and elected leaders in opposing Governor Jerry Brown’s “legacy project.”

The joint Brown administration/ Trump administration Delta Tunnels project  could take 14 years or more to complete. The project proposes constructing two massive 35-mile long tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to facilitate Recreational Boaters of Californiathe export of northern California water to corporate agribusiness interests, Southern California water agencies, and oil companies conducting fracking operations and other extreme oil drilling methods,

“RBOC has, for decades, been at the forefront of opposing proposals that would impair the ability of boaters to access to the 1,000 miles of waterways in the Delta,” Peter Robertson, president of the organization, said.

“We successfully opposed permanent barriers that would have blocked navigation to popular Delta destinations.  We have supported legislation that would increase funds forfighting invasive species such as the water hyacinth,” Robertson stated.

RBPC said the proposed WaterFix project is the “latest threat to boating in the Delta.”

The group noted that major waterways and tributaries could be closed to recreational boaters during the project’s construction.

At a meeting of its Board of Directors on August 1, RBOC identified “specific, boater-related concerns” with the Notice of Determination (NOD) for the California WaterFix environmental analysis.

These include:

The significant, negative impact that will occur with the closure of waterways to navigation during the lengthy construction period.

• The absence of a plan to ensure that the Delta infrastructure will not only be preserved, but improved.

• The lack of surety that the plan will address the threat that climate change and increased water transfer pose to the amount and quality of water in the Delta.

humpback whale in Sacramento River by Sarah Wilkin, NOAA“We are encouraging the state to consider other sources of water such as increased storage and desalination,” concluded Robertson.

While Brown and Trump administration proponents of the tunnels continually claim the Delta Tunnels will somehow “restore” the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary while providing “water supply reliability,” the hollowness of that claim was recently revealed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

On July 28, the CDFW, under the helm of Director Chuck Bonham,  issued an “incidental take permit” to kill endangered species during the construction and operation of California WaterFix, supposedly in “compliance” with Section 2081(b) of the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). The permit allows the project to kill state-listed species, including Sacramento River spring and winter-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt and other fish species.

It is worth noting that no fishing groups, environmental justice groups, Indian Tribes, or conservation groups, with the exception of Jerry Meral’s Natural Heritage Institute, currently support the Delta Tunnels.

(Humpback whale in Sacramento River photo by Sarah Wilkin, NOAA)

About the Author

Dan Bacher is an environmental journalist in Sacramento who focuses on California's water issues, a healthy environment for the salmon fishery of the Northwest, and the attempts by big agriculture and big oil to hog all the water.