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Twin Tunnel Peripheral Canal is bad for San Joaquin County

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Posted: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:36 am, Tue Jul 31, 2012.

A recent conversation with some neighbors brought up the question, "Why should Morada care about a peripheral canal one way or another?"

The simple answer? Our property is worthless and we die without water, and everyone who lives in San Joaquin County depends on the aquifer we draw from — directly or indirectly. The "Twin Tunnel" Peripheral Canal would be the coup de grace for an already severely depleted groundwater basin. The aquifer we sit atop is critically overdrafted (250,000 acre-feet per year) and forms a hole or cone of depression with a depth of 60 to 80 feet below sea level.

Given increasing growth, increased pumping, little or no natural recharge and no new surface water supplies, the hole gets deeper, forming a natural vacuum. Since nature abhors a vacuum, she rushes to fill the void and invites or pulls sea water from the Bay under our Delta in an easterly direction at a speed of about 200 feet per year, with an exponential effect on the speed of this chloride migration.

Water levels are declining and chloride concentrations are increasing in water from wells in our Eastern San Joaquin Ground-Water Sub-basin caused by pumping in excess of recharge and the resulting saline intrusion. Several wells in Stockton have been abandoned due to saline contamination. Water west of Lower Sacramento Road is no longer potable. Oak Grove Regional Park abandoned its wells and connected to the city water grid.

Even with its new Delta Water Supply Project Phase I completion, the city continues to pump groundwater. Of course, new surface water is the answer to this problem, but there isn't any.

The Twin Tunnel Peripheral Canal threatens to divert at least 9,000 cfs (cubic feet per second) for transport to Southern California. This diversion would reduce the natural flush of the Delta by million of acre-feet of Sacramento River water, which also works as a barrier, exerting pressure against the incoming tide from the Bay. If this natural flush and barrier by our river system is eliminated, we must expect increased migration and intrusion of brackish sea water into our ever diminishing groundwater basin, irreversibly ruining it forever.

Why isn't this effect being discussed?

William Van Amber Fields


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Welcome to the discussion.


  • Matt Miller posted at 11:48 am on Mon, Aug 6, 2012.

    Matt Miller Posts: 11

    We do need a voice! We know that our senators are a lost cause, but we should at least be able to count on our congressman to fight for us on this issue. McNerney mentioned the canal for the first time just two months ago. He doesn't know a lick about how we live in the central valley and doesn't care to learn. We need some representation that doesn't hate farmers.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 8:16 pm on Thu, Aug 2, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Sam stated...step up and wake up the people in our area. BE A VOICE

    Sam makes a good point. 30 years ago when this canal was almost realized, there was anger and publicity in the media that generated political pressure. It failed thankfully. It would be a good thing to shine light on this issue with the help of the media.

  • Sam Heller posted at 5:44 pm on Thu, Aug 2, 2012.

    Sam Heller Posts: 176

    Hey Marty and Rich... how about an in depth front page story about how the governor is giving our water to southern California? We need to protect our water. I would hate to see Lodi become a lunar landscape like Mono Lake. Come on GUYS... step up and wake up the people in our area. BE A VOICE !!!!!!!!!!

  • Sam Heller posted at 5:10 pm on Wed, Aug 1, 2012.

    Sam Heller Posts: 176

    Thanks for that info.

  • Ted Lauchland posted at 4:08 pm on Wed, Aug 1, 2012.

    Ted Lauchland Posts: 261

    There are people out there (voters) that haven't got a clue what a peripheral canal is let alone how it would affect us. Heads are buried in the sand compared to 30 years ago. - New voters. Brown pushed it in "82" as governor and Arnold was from LA.

    I have even heard this blog mention about being prudent with our water indicating sending it south might be a good idea.

    Build it first and sort out the details later? Legal words existing now you think would protect us but they can be changed easily. Arnold tried to keep it secret until the last. Brown made last minute changes on announcement times to try to blow up the opposition.

    Prudence at this point is to get the word out .

    False propaganda and claims of support from major players are only twists of facts. Supported by farmers? - Not the ones in my backyard.
    any delay tactics can also be used as "wait till they turn their backs" or in my case "wait until harvest when they are too busy to notice". Tied up in court and guess who pays for that - The Tax Payers! - Both Sides! How's that for efficient use of your money! Don't blink.

  • John Kindseth posted at 10:54 am on Wed, Aug 1, 2012.

    John Kindseth Posts: 245

    A crazed scheme like this brings to mind Mono Lake, and what used to be called "Owens Lake" [which had steamships plying its waters]

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 8:18 am on Wed, Aug 1, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Good question Sam! According to by Dan Bacher...Friday Jun 8th, 2012

    Why is this peripheral canal plan destined to fail?

    First, a broad coalition of Delta residents, Indian Tribes, family farmers, fishermen, Southern California ratepayers, grassroots environmentalists and elected officials will fight this "new conveyance" through protests, litigation, legislation and other methods to prevent it from ever becoming reality.

    Second, for the fishery agencies to issue a permit for a canal or tunnel, the canal would be limited to exports of between 4.5 million acre feet and 5.5 million acre feet per year, according to the editorial. Do we really think that the water contractors will help pay for a canal that might deliver less water than they want?

    Third, the canal would lead to the extinction of Central Valley salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt and other fish populations, in violation of the state and federal Endangered Species Acts and numerous other environmental laws. The canal is not legally defensible because of the immense harm it would cause to fish populations and the estuary - and will face an array of legal challenges.

    Fourth, voters will vote overwhelmingly against the $11.14 billion Water Bond that clears the path for the canal's construction just like they voted overwhelmingly against the canal 30 years ago. The taxpaying public and Southern California ratepayers will be extremely reluctant to pay for a huge government boondoggle like the canal in a time of budget deficits and economic crisis.

    "The peripheral canal, estimated to cost between $14 and $30 billion, will allow Westlands Water District and the Kern County Water Agency to grab more water at the expense of California taxpayers and the environment," said Adam Scow, California Campaigns Director of Food & Water Watch. "It is incumbent upon the people of California to put an end to this wasteful and unnecessary canal, as they did 30 years ago in June of 1982."

    The massive opposition by the voting public to the canal is the reason why Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg rescheduled the water bond vote from November 2010 to November 2012. This is also the reason why Steinberg said in March that the 2012 water bond will "in all likelihood" be delayed until 2014. (http://blogs.alternet.org/danbacher/2012/03/23/steinberg-says-water-bond-delay-is-likely)

    Rather than writing about how the canal is "almost assured," the Chronicle editors should be joining with Restore the Delta, Food and Water Watch, the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, Southern California ratepayers and numerous people from diverse organizations to strongly oppose this corporate water grab.

    Governor Brown's campaign to build the peripheral canal comes at a time when Brown is continuing and expanding some of the most odious environmental policies of Arnold Schwarzenegger, the worst Governor for fish and the environment in California history.

  • Walter Chang posted at 6:06 am on Wed, Aug 1, 2012.

    Walt Posts: 1184

    At one time, it was known as Arnold’s Peripheral Canal.

    But notice that nobody is coming in here and defending the loony idea either??


  • Steve Schmidt posted at 6:09 pm on Tue, Jul 31, 2012.

    Steve Schmidt Posts: 2672

    To be fair, Meg Whitman is currently driving HP into the ground, not the State of California. Still, it does speak to the lack of real choices in politics.

  • Steve Schmidt posted at 6:05 pm on Tue, Jul 31, 2012.

    Steve Schmidt Posts: 2672

    To be fair, Meg Whitman also strongly supports the Peripheral Canal.

  • Andrew Liebich posted at 5:35 pm on Tue, Jul 31, 2012.

    Andrew Liebich Posts: 2999

    On May 18, Governor Jerry Brown called for tax hikes to bring down a budget deficit of nearly $16 billion – while promoting the construction of a budget-busting $14 billion peripheral canal or tunnel? Brown’s estimate of the cost of the canal at $14 billion is up from the over $10 billion estimate he just made in January. It’s crucial for everybody concerned about California’s future to support AB 2421 (B. Berryhill). This bill supports an independent cost-benefit analysis before committing the public to pay tens of billions of dollars to build a peripheral canal or tunnel to divert more Delta water.

  • Sam Heller posted at 5:03 pm on Tue, Jul 31, 2012.

    Sam Heller Posts: 176

    Great letter. The idea of these two tunnels the size of freeways (each 32 feet wide) sucking our valuable water to southern California is a frightening thought.

    I think our governor is NOT thinking clearly. Our Delta is doomed if this goes through. I too also believe our groundwater will be ruined forever.

    We need to fight this. But how???

  • Ted Lauchland posted at 4:46 pm on Tue, Jul 31, 2012.

    Ted Lauchland Posts: 261

    Hello Mr. Werner,

    I'm sure , steal from Peter to pay Paul

    Anyone want trigger words? - Someone yell RAPE

    There has been an ad-hok committee formed to resolve the water issues that the government refuses to listen to.

  • Ron Werner posted at 4:13 pm on Tue, Jul 31, 2012.

    Ron Werner Posts: 101

    I drove up highway 395 last week through the Owens Valley. Did a little research and found this excellent article on what the LA Dept of power and water is being forced to do by the EPA.

    According to this article the City of LA has already spent millions to solve the evnironmental problems they created at Owens Lake. I'm sure they would love to take delta water so they could pump less from the Owens Valley and restore that habitat and satisfy the EPA.

  • Ted Lauchland posted at 3:36 pm on Tue, Jul 31, 2012.

    Ted Lauchland Posts: 261

    Taking water from the north has in the past been considered cheaper water than desalinating. I'm not sure of costs comparisons with today's tecnologies however. Volumed water is always cheaper to steal from someone else if you can. State says we don't own it. Funny - it rains up here and is generated here and it should be managed here. Too many people down south? Well - sorry -another reason to move out of California . There goes the money. Over taxed people and over taxed resources

  • Ted Lauchland posted at 3:16 pm on Tue, Jul 31, 2012.

    Ted Lauchland Posts: 261

    Recent declarations by the legislature - to my understanding - have declared the "Brown Act" voided in the interest of saving money for the state. They have stolen our voices. Mr. Brown has turned around and called us SOBs for standing up for our way of life and where we live to push his narrow minded visions. Life as we know it will not ever be the same for us if Cal south has their way.Time for him to move his capital to LA and move the Mexican border further north. He doesn't choose to represent Northern California at all - just stomp his feet. If there was ever an excuse to oust someone this would be it and he lives in our own back yard too. I normally try to support government leaders as it is not an easy job but this takes the cake.

    Excellent letter Mr. Van Amber Fields

    I would suggest that the energy of this blog be directed at this "destroyer of property and lives". It would mean a whole heapin' lot to harness such Tasmanian Devils as what has been displayed here in recent months!

  • Steve Schmidt posted at 12:30 pm on Tue, Jul 31, 2012.

    Steve Schmidt Posts: 2672

    Well, I never thought I would find myself agreeing with WVAF but what a great letter. If the South needs more water, perhaps they should try conservation.

  • Peter Bellville posted at 10:19 am on Tue, Jul 31, 2012.

    gopher Posts: 26

    I agree. Some politicians must be lining their pockets. Desalination is the answer for southern California. It seems Sacramento can only find answers that are ineffective, damaging and expensive. This and high speed rail has me convinced the wrong people are in office.


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