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Twin-tunnel Delta plan concerns Placer water officials

Water rights questions in plan announced by Gov. Jerry Brown and top federal official
By: Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - Placer County Water Agency leaders are expressing concerns about Gov. Jerry Brown and U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s newly announced Delta Plan, which calls for construction of two tunnels beneath the delta area.

The project would send Sierra water supplies directly to the Bay Area and Southern California, they say.

In announcing the twin-tunnel plan, Brown said that a healthy Delta ecosystem and reliable water supply “are profoundly important to California’s future.”

In a statement issued jointly by Water Agency Board Chairman Mike Lee and General Manager David Breninger, the two say that, partly through the agency’s efforts in collaboration with many other Northern California water interests, the joint statement issued this past week by Brown and the Obama Administration included assurances that the Delta Plan would protect upstream water users.

But that isn’t enough to allay concerns.

“PCWA is pleased with this assurance but remains concerned over how operation of the twin tunnels will be governed and will continue to be vigilant in defense of Placer County’s area of origin water rights because, in spite of these assurances, these matters remain far from resolved,” Breninger and Lee said.

The agency board and staff understand and appreciate efforts to repair the decades of environmental abuse to the Delta that has been caused by giant water pumps in the South Delta – at Tracy – which pull water in unnatural patterns through Delta waterways and harms its eco-system, the two said.

The proposed 25-mile-long twin tunnels will relocate the export diversion from the south end of the Delta to upstream of it and significantly increase the capacity for exporting Sierra water to the Bay Area and Southern California, Breninger and Lee said.

“If left unchecked, this would allow the exporters to shift their responsibility and burden for Delta flows from themselves to Northern California,” they said. “It is the longtime position of PCWA that restoration of the Delta ecosystem is the responsibility of the exporters who caused the damage.”

The agency will continue to strongly oppose Delta Plan revisions like the twin-tunnel plan that would take water supplies essential for farms, cities and eco-systems in Placer County to solve Delta environmental problems caused by water-export deliveries to the Bay Area and Southern California, Breninger and Lee said.