McNer­ney of­fers Delta tun­nels al­ter­na­tive

Lodi News-Sentinel - - Front Page - By John Bays

Con­gress­man Jerry McNer­ney is bring­ing a bill be­fore Congress to­day to pro­pose an al­ter­na­tive to the Cal­i­for­nia WaterFix tun­nels, also known as the Twin Tun­nels, pro­posed in the Delta.

McNer­ney (D-Stock­ton) an­nounced the plan dur­ing a press con­fer­ence on Mon­day at the We­ber Point Events Cen­ter in Stock­ton.

Plan­ning for the tun­nels be­gan in 2006, when state and fed­eral agen­cies pro­posed adding new points of diver­sion in the Delta. In July 2015, the Cal­i­for­nia Depart­ment of Wa­ter Re­sources (DWR) and the U.S. Bureau of Recla­ma­tion (BOR) selected the tun­nel pro­posal from more than 100 al­ter­na­tives.

WaterFix will con­sist of three new diver­sion points in the Delta, uti­liz­ing a mod­i­fied pipe­line and tun­nel sys­tem. Ad­di­tion­ally, pro­po­nents of WaterFix claim that the project will bet­ter pro­tect en­dan­gered fish in the Delta, im­prove wa­ter qual­ity and pro­tect wa­ter sup­plies from ris­ing sea lev­els, floods and earthquakes, all while sup­ply­ing wa­ter to 25 mil­lion Cal­i­for­nia res­i­dents.

Ground­break­ing is ex­pected for 2018, and the cost is es­ti­mated at $15 bil­lion to be paid for by public wa­ter agen­cies, ac­cord­ing to a WaterFix re­port from Feb. 28.

McNer­ney voiced his op­po­si­tion to WaterFix, stat­ing that the en­vi­ron­men­tal risks as­so­ci­ated with con­struc­tion of the project out­weigh the pre­dicted ben­e­fits, stress­ing the need for an al­ter­na­tive that en­cour­ages dif­fer­ent re­gions in Cal­i­for­nia to sup­ply their own wa­ter.

“We need to change the nar­ra­tive, we need to think about how we can solve Cal­i­for­nia’s wa­ter prob­lems without ex­port­ing too much from the Delta,” said McNer­ney.

McNer­ney’s bill, which he es­ti­mates will cost around $12 mil­lion, will be largely funded by re­duc­ing tax breaks for the oil and nat­u­ral gas in­dus­tries, specif­i­cally for ex­penses in­curred at wells that do not pro­duce oil or gas.

Un­der the bill, the Sec­re­tary of En­ergy shall es­tab­lish an En­ergy-Wa­ter Nexus Of­fice within the U.S. Depart­ment of En­ergy that will use in­for­ma­tion on the links be­tween en­ergy and wa­ter to ex­plore and im­ple­ment de­sali­na­tion re­search, brine man­age­ment tech­nol­ogy, stormwa­ter and ground­wa­ter man­age­ment as well as pro­grams for wa­ter use re­duc­tion and con­ser­va­tion.

The ground­wa­ter recharge pro­gram will au­tho­rize im­prove­ments to el­i­gi­ble land that in­cludes in­stalling mea­sure­ment de­vices on wells and pumps and giv­ing pri­or­ity to states that al­ready have ground­wa­ter man­age­ment laws.

Although McNer­ney takes the bill be­fore Congress to­day to build up sup­port from his fel­low leg­is­la­tors, he does not plan to take it to the Se­nate floor for vot­ing un­til 2018.

GE­ORGE BRIDGES/MCT

U.S. Rep. Jerry McNer­ney (D-Stock­ton) on July 26, 2007.

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