Californians urge Gov Newsom pause in Delta Tunnel planning during Coronavirus crisis

  • Published on March 29th, 2020

The state of California is continuing ahead with plans for the Delta Tunnel, a project to divert more water from Northern California for San Joaquin Valley agribusiness and Southern California water agencies, in spite of the COVID 19 global pandemic. Fishermen, Tribal leaders, conservationists, environmental justice advocates, scientists, many elected leaders, family farmers, Delta business owners and the general public oppose the construction of the environmental and economic damage it will cause to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, West Coast fisheries and the people of California.

sacramento delta

By Dan Bacher

Governor Gavin Newsom reported at a press event in Sunnyvale yesterday that the number of coronavirus patients in the state’s intensive care units doubled overnight while manufacturers are stepping up to build equipment including ventilators to fill hospital shortages. For more information, read the San Luis Opispo Tribune:…

Regina Chichizola, co-director of Save California, is urging everybody to please contact Governor Newsom, Wade Crowfoot, California’s Secretary of Resources and Nancy Vogel, the Director of the Department of Water Resources and ask them to pause plans for the Delta Tunnel and Sites Reservoir until the Covid 19 crisis has passed at,, and Please also write letters to the editor and opinion pieces to your local papers.

“While Californians are sheltering in place, plans for the 7000 cfs Delta Tunnel and intakes are moving forward even though the scoping period on the project is still open. Before the shelter in place order was issued hundreds of California testified against the new Delta Tunnel diversion,” said Chichizola.

“The proposed ‘new intakes’ or large diversions, are the same as the intakes as for the old twin Delta Tunnels. California needs fisheries restoration and protections, not new diversions. Salmon returns have been so bad in Northern California that most rural people do not have any fish put away for this crisis. Our communities face food insecurity and heath impacts from lack of salmon during normal times, so lack of local food and income in this crisis is especially devastating,” she stated.

“Image if we had a government that cared as much about rural and coastal communities’ sustainability as water brokers and corporations? This pandemic and California’s increasingly long wildfire season and power outages demonstrate while sustainable, local food and water systems should be prioritized over centralized water and food systems that do not benefit Northern California,” concluded.

A petition against the Delta Tunnel is at land talking points are at Chichizola added that volunteers are needed to write Guest Opinions and letters to the editor regarding the need for public participation on these project and why healthy fisheries are key to rural food security.

Over 200 people including members of at least seven California Indian Tribal nations, along with some recreational anglers and environmentalists, marched on the meeting room of the Sheraton Inn in Redding on the evening of March 2, shouting “Shut It Down” and “No Water for Profits,” in strident opposition to the Governor’s Delta Tunnel project.

After marching into the room, they testified before the Department of Water Resources staff about damage that would be caused to their livelihoods and culture if the Delta Tunnel is constructed. The meeting only took place under pressure from the Hoopa High Water Protectors Club and their allies, who demanded at the first scoping meeting on February 3 that a meeting be held in the north state.

Kylee Sorrell, Hoopa High Water Protectors Club representative, reflected the view of many tribal youth that showed up at the meeting.

“I should be in school,” she said. “I should be able to be a kid. I should not have to be continually fighting for my river and culture.”

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.