REACTIONS to Westlands vote against the Delta tunnels

Yesterday, the Board of Directors of the Westlands Water District voted not to participate in the California Water Fix project, dealing what some say may be a final blow to the project.

To read Westlands Water District’s statement on California Water Fix, click here.

Here’s what organizations and officials had to say:

From the Golden Gate Salmon Association:

GGSA executive director John McManus had the following quote in response to the Westlands Water District board of directors vote today rejecting a commitment today to finance their part of the proposed twin tunnels project.

“The takeaway from today’s vote is that the current twin tunnels plan is dying from its own weight.  It’s way too big and expensive, even for the growers in the desert-dry western San Joaquin Valley who need the water the most.  There’s no doubt that the existing method of transferring northern California water south is deadly for salmon and other wildlife and absolutely could be improved upon, but not by this behemoth.  Maybe this will open the way for a more rational discussion on a new way forward.”

From Congressman John Garamendi:

Congressman John Garamendi (D-Davis, Fairfield, Yuba City, CA), the former U.S. Deputy Interior Secretary, today issued the following statement after the Westlands Water Districts backed out of the proposed twin tunnels:

“Today, the Westlands Water District voted to reject the California WaterFix. They came to realize what Delta residents have known for so long: the twin tunnels are a boondoggle, a real financial disaster. According to media reports, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California also has grave doubts about their continued support for the twin tunnels. Today’s vote by Westlands is a major step forward in defeating the twin tunnels once and for all, but we are not out of the woods yet.

“It’s time for all Californians to move forward on a water plan that addresses all of California’s future water needs: A plan that does not include the twin tunnels, and fully utilizes Proposition 1 funding. Californians must continue to conserve water, build water storage facilities above and below ground, recycle water, and improve the health of California’s watersheds. It is time for our great state to come together and address its water needs in a comprehensive manner.”

From Secretary John Laird:

California Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird issued the following statement regarding today’s decision by the Westlands Water District to decline participation in the California WaterFix project.

“There is one thing on which everyone agrees: Our aging water infrastructure needs to be modernized. Failing to act puts future water supply reliability at risk. This vote, while disappointing, in no way signals the end of WaterFix.”

From Congressman Jerry McNerney:

In response to today’s vote by the Westlands Water District against participation in the WaterFix tunnels proposal, Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-09) issued the following statement:

“The tunnels proposal is the wrong approach for California’s farmers, families and small businesses, as well as the delta itself. Today is an opportunity to open a dialogue about solutions to California’s ongoing water challenges. Californians deserve a long-term plan to ensure water sustainability throughout the state, and I look forward to working with Governor Brown and other local officials on a strategy to secure our most vital resource.

“Right now, we have a chance to utilize and expand successful practices already in place, and capitalize on innovative and forward-thinking approaches that will modernize our water system.

“There are many viable alternatives to the WaterFix proposal, including conservation, recycling, and water capture. These are tangible, commonsense approaches that we can accomplish in the short-term that will benefit us in the long-term. And all are a part of a comprehensive water bill I recently introduced after extensive engagement and consultation with a diverse group of stakeholders – including farmers, technology innovators, industry and community leaders.

“I’m confident that by working together, across federal, state and local governments, we can ensure a sustainable water future for California.”

From the Metropolitan Water District:

Jeffrey Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, issues the following statement following the Westlands Water District Board of Directors vote on California WaterFix:

“California WaterFix has long been envisioned as a partnership between urban water agencies and agriculture. It was clear that this would be a difficult vote for Westlands, as it is for us all. It’s equally clear that actions must be taken to secure a reliable water supply for the state and to safeguard our economy. California must find a path forward from here that works for all of the partners.”

From Restore the Delta:

Executive Director of Restore the Delta, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla said:

“Today is a very good day for California. By rejecting California WaterFix, the Westlands Water District has dealt a blow to the project. There are many better solutions for creating a sustainable water supply in California. Metropolitan Water District’s math is based on a sizable contribution from Westlands, so is Santa Clara Valley Water District’s. They now have to come up with a lot more money for the Delta Tunnels. It won’t pencil out for them either.”

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