On March 1, the Delta Counties Coalition (DCC) officially supported legislation that prohibits the construction of the peripheral canal, twin tunnels or other isolated conveyance project unless approved by California voters. The coalition, which represents Contra Costa, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano and Yolo counties, expressed its support in a letter addressed to state Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, D-Stockton.

“The people most impacted by the twin tunnels project must have the right to vote to approve or disapprove the project,” the letter read.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s Twin Tunnels project calls for two 30-foot-wide, 30-mile-long tunnels to be constructed to extract water from the Delta to pumps and canals near Tracy, where it would travel down the state. In January, Eggman introduced legislation AB 1713, which would effectively block the Twin Tunnels project unless it is approved in a vote.

The project would cost at least $15 billion. But the project’s cost isn’t the only reason Northern California entities oppose the project; many cite the detrimental effects that the tunnels will have on the Delta region.

“The DCC ... calls the Governor’s tunnel plan insufficient, contending it won’t add new water to alleviate California’s drought and will irreparably harm the historic Delta — the largest estuary west of the Mississippi,” representatives from the office of San Joaquin County Supervisor Chuck Winn wrote in a press release.

Lodi City Councilman Alan Nakanishi also supports the DCC’s stance.

“I think the twin tunnels will be disastrous to the (Central) Valley,” Nakanishi said.

Nakanishi, who is an alternate with the Delta Protection Commission and also sits on the Groundwater Sustainability Board, claimed that the project would allow salinated water from the San Francisco Bay water to creep into the Delta. Such salty water would be harmful for crops and human consumption.

“For desalinization, you need a lot of clear water to push salt water out. Right now, the bay is intruding. As salt water intrudes closer and closer, it seeps into groundwater and makes the groundwater not clean,” Nakanishi said.

In 1984, a similar peripheral canal project was voted down, according to Nakanishi and the letter. The coalition is hopeful that voters will do the same with the Twin Tunnels.

“The tunnels project will irreparably harm the Delta, provide no new water, and will only benefit one part of the state and the expense of another,” the letter read.

Contact reporter Joe Benapfl at josephb@lodinews.com

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