Central Basin Water Board holds off on Delta Tunnels vote
On August 28, the Central Basin Water Agency board in Compton voted 5 to 2 to postpone a decision supporting the controversial Delta Tunnels plan, a joint public works project between the Governor Jerry Brown and President Donald Trump administration.
By Dan Bacher
Brenna Norton, senior Southern California organizer for Food & Water Watch, said, “Citing the many unknowns regarding the rate impacts of the project, estimated to cost $25 billion, the Central Basin board members said they needed more information on how it would affect ratepayers in southeast Los Angeles County.”
The board plans to meet again in late September about the project that could cost up to $68 billion in total.
“This delay provides temporary relief for ratepayers in Lynwood, South Gate, Florence-Graham, Willowbrook, Compton, and Carson,” said Norton. “The Central Basin board recognizes that there are many crucial unanswered questions about who will pay for the Delta Tunnels.”
“It would be a great injustice for low and middle income communities in Los Angeles County to carry the burden for the tunnels, which will raise rates but not provide new water. We look forward to giving the board the data it needs to vote down this wrong-headed scheme,” she said.
Twenty local residents and ratepayers showed up to question why the board would raise rates for a project that they believe their customers don’t need, as many cities throughout Los Angeles County are planning to import less water from the Delta, Norton said. Representatives from Restore the Delta, SEIU 721, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) and Sierra Club urged the board to vote no on the project.
Another seven people, mostly representing big business interests and building trade unions, spoke in support of the agency backing the California Water Fix.
“We made progress today with our Southern California friends by delaying the tunnels vote in southern Los Angeles at the Central Basin Municipal Utility District,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta (RTD).
Director Leticia Vasquez, who represents the cities of Lynwood, South Gate, Florence-Graham, Willowbrook and portions of Compton and Carson, received a round of applause from the audience as she told the Board to delay the vote on the Delta Tunnels, according to Barrigan-Parrilla.
Director Vasquez also serves as a representative on the Metropolitan Water District Board of Directors, which is also slated to vote this fall on whether or not to fund the California WaterFix.
The project could raise average household water bills between $7 and $16 per month for over 40 years, and up to $200 a month when the project costs reach their peak, according to an independent study.
The Delta Tunnels, considered to be the most environmentally destructive public works project in California history by opponents, is undoubtedly the “legacy” project of Governor Jerry Brown.
While the media often fawningly portrays Brown as a “climate leader” and the “resistance” to President Donald Trump as the Governor jets off to international climate conferences, the reality is much different, according to public trust advocates. In fact, Brown has collaborated with Trump on fast-tracking the construction of the controversial Delta Tunnels and the exemption of California oilfields from the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Over just the past few weeks, the Brown administration has incurred the wrath of environmental justice advocates, conservationists and increasing numbers of Californians by:
- Ramrodding Big Oil’s environmentally unjust cap-and-trade bill, AB 398, through the legislature
- Approving the reopening of the dangerous SoCalGas natural gas storage facility at Porter Ranch
- Green-lighting the flawed EIS/EIR documents permitting the construction of the California WaterFix
- Issuing a “take” permit to kill endangered salmon and Delta smelt in the Delta Tunnels.