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Farmers deal huge blow to proposed California water tunnels

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California is the epitome of dysfunctional, pure-liberal, politics.

For years and years now, the citizens in California have had to deal with drought, water shortages, and subsequent government mandates on the amount of water one could expend in a household…and for what purposes!  And for years and years the enviro-fascists, the Sierra Club in particular, fought off (“paid off” might be more appropriate) the government and The People’s thirst for more dams throughout the state and/or attempts to increase the storage capacity of existing dams.  There was, and surely still is, always some ecological concern, like the potential loss of some useless fish already on its way to extinction, the loss of potential recreational areas for kayaking (true), or simply claims that a full and proper environmental impact statement was not performed.

So the government ultimately turned to the “tunnel” idea to steal more water from Northern California in order to ship south and quench the thirst of Hollywood, literally forcing those who lose their water to pay for the project and continue the drain on the North’s water resources…scarce as they are now.  Say what?

Even more ridiculous, it appears that federal taxpayer dollars are in play, how much we’re not sure, and to keep this water rip-off project going, it looks like there is talk about grabbing even more of other states’ taxpayer dollars.

Yep, no more dams for the citizens but they get a “bullet train to nowhere” and water tunnels to redistribute the north’s fair share of water to the south.  And does anybody believe that the price tag will end at $16 billion?  So how much will Californians and the rest of us hard workers in the nation wind up paying?

Hmmm…let me see.  What was the original price of that “bullet train to nowhere” and what is it projected to be now, and maybe even next year?  In fact when has any California state project ever been completed close to its original estimate?

More importantly…who paid for it all?

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FRESNO, Calif. — Two massive, $16 billion tunnels that looked to be the future of California’s water system have been thrown into limbo by a group of powerful farmers, and Gov. Jerry Brown and other tunnel proponents are facing the prospect that the project may end up just a pipe dream.

The board of Westlands Water District voted to withdraw its participation from the project after more than an hour of tense discussions and comments from farmers who overwhelmingly concluded it was too expensive.

Water is a contentious issue in California, which leads the nation in agricultural production, growing nearly half of its fruits, nuts and vegetables. Irrigation water now flows through a complex system of reservoirs and canals managed by state and federal officials that was built decades ago.

Brown and other legislators say the aging water infrastructure must be modernized.

The project calls for building two 35-mile-long (56-kilometer-long) tunnels east of San Francisco to deliver water from the Sacramento River mostly to farms and cities hundreds of miles away in central and Southern California.

Backers say the tunnels will stabilize delta flows, bolster endangered fish and ensure a reliable water supply. Critics say the project will be used to drain Northern California dry and further harm native fish.

Tuesday’s vote — the first among several large water districts — leaves the project’s future in peril.

The powerful Westlands agency provides irrigation water to 1,000 square miles (2,590 square kilometers) in the San Joaquin Valley, some of the nation’s richest farmland.

Officials in other districts were watching the Westlands vote as they prepare to make their decisions on the project that has been on the drawing board for more than a decade.

Opponents representing delta farmers, who long battled against the tunnels, considered the Westlands vote a good day for California. They’d prefer seeing money spent on capturing Californian’s storm runoff and replacing leaky toilets as ways to ease the demand for delta water.

“The sooner we can get Gov. Brown to put an end to pushing California WaterFix, the sooner we can get to solutions for California water,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director for Restore the Delta.

The vote came a day after The Associated Press reported state plans to put dozens more water agencies and millions of families and farmers on the hook for funding the tunnels.

The approach pivots from longstanding state and federal assurances that only water districts that seek to participate would pay, instead shifting responsibility to a broader sweep of districts.

William Bourdeau, executive vice president at Harris Farms and a Westlands board member, said the economics of the project didn’t pencil out and it came with no guarantee it would produce consistent water supplies years from now.

“We would be obligating hundreds of family farms,” Bourdeau said outside the meeting. “That doesn’t make economic sense.”

Rather than putting the responsibility on the districts that stand to benefit from the tunnels, Bourdeau said the federal government needs to play a leading role as it did decades ago when it built the current complex of dams and canals.

Before the 7-1 vote in Fresno, Westlands general manager Thomas Birmingham had urged board members to support the tunnels on the condition that federal officials spread the cost more broadly to make it affordable for the district.

“This thing dies,” Birmingham told the board about the decision. “The project will be over.”

It’s not clear whether the farmers group will prove an outlier or a harbinger of the votes to come.

“Failing to act puts future water supply reliability at risk,” said John Laird, secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, in a statement. “This vote, while disappointing, in no way signals the end” of the project known as WaterFix.

Brown is pressing to secure the project before he leaves office next year. Calls and emails to the governor’s press office seeking comment Tuesday were not immediately returned.

Westlands farmers had considered delaying their vote in hopes of securing a better deal from federal officials, but Birmingham told them the terms wouldn’t likely change.

“There’s just too many unknowns,” said farmer and board member, Larry Enos.

“The only guarantee is once we do it, we have to pay the bonds. I can’t get comfortable with it today.”

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