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As California Aqueduct sinks Sacramento fiddles with Twin Tunnels
dennis Wyatt web
Dennis Wyatt

It is 131 miles from Never Never Land to Chowchilla.

The distance between Sacramento and a sinking piece of reality might as well as be a billion miles given how the self-proclaimed water gods are hell-bent on squandering $16 billion and counting on the Twin Tunnels.

The justification for the Twin Tunnels, we are told, is not to send more water south but to prevent the disruption of water supplies for La La Land swimming pools should Mother Nature opt to do a sequel to Dwayne Johnson's feel good movie "San Andreas."

The premise is Delta levees - which have no known active faults running under them and did just fine in 1906 and 1989 - will collapse in a major tremblor, cut off water supplies to the Southland and force Leonardo DiCaprio to have his maids do his laundry using imported Perrier water.

The same people who assure us that this will happen if the Twin Tunnels are not built are the same ones who assured us only the benefactors of uninterrupted water supplies - Los Angeles and large corporate farming interests in the Southern San Joaquin Valley - would pick up the tab for the Twin Tunnels project. Pinocchio has a cute little button nose compared to the noses on those that have told the whoppers over the years to commandeer water.

So what does yet another lie from Sacramento about the Twin Tunnels have to do with Chowchilla?

Chowchilla is near the biggest - and most serious - threat to Southland water deliveries. The 444-mile long California Aqueduct is sinking. Authorities such as the United States Geological Survey, state Department of Water Resources, and NASA contend collapsing or sinking land has compromised the carrying capacity of the aqueduct by 20 percent.

And because the land is compacting due to over drafting of aquifers by Valley farmers and others that were promised water from the State Water Project that was never delivered due to overpromising or diversions to satisfy court edicts, it makes the aqueduct - not the Delta levees - the real weak link in the state's massive water transfer system. The San Andreas Fault and the California Aqueduct are within a couple dozen miles of each other for a long stretch. In fact, all 444 miles of the California Aqueduct is closer to the fault than the pumps at Tracy and the Delta levees that apparently keep Gov. Brown up at night fraught with worry.

One would think such conditions would give someone, somewhere in control pause.

As it stands now, the Department of Water Resources concedes any State Water Project allotment 85 percent and above being sent to Kern County and points south would be problematic to honor even if the water is there due to reduced capacity in the aqueduct thanks to subsidence.

Proceeding full speed ahead with the so-called "water fix" created to solve a crisis that doesn't exist when the only way of delivering water to most of the 25 million people and a million acres of farmland via the State Water Project is slowly collapsing is akin to spending all of your money on new auto air conditioning when your engine is showing signs of needing a major overhaul to prevent your car from stop running.

So why all the fuss over the Twin Tunnels?

It's simple. Once you use a chain saw to cut off the every growing nose of the Sacramento liars it is painfully clear that the Twin Tunnels are indeed a water grab.

It may not be a water grab as in what Los Angeles engineered in the Owens Valley but it is a water grab never-the-less. Divert southbound water under the Delta at a point south of Sacramento before it reaches the Delta very conveniently means that water won't be diminished by court orders or drought conditions to maximize Delta fresh water flows for fish.

It would give Los Angeles what San Francisco has - carte blanche freedom from losing any water to Delta salinity and fish flow bureaucratic edicts or court orders.

Water from Hetch Hetchy already is tunneled under the valley beneath Modesto bypassing the Delta. It is water that - until San Francisco was allowed to desecrate Yosemite National Park by building a dam - nature sent into the Delta to support the ecological system.

The bottom line is the Twin Tunnels will give LA a larger share of available water during times of drought at the expense of not just the Delta but everyone on the San Joaquin River watershed from Stockton to Fresno including Manteca, Lathrop, Ripon, Modesto, Ceres, Turlock, and Merced.

Gov. Brown apparently is okay with this ruse because nothing on the scale of a Twin Tunnels solution - or any solution for that matter - has been advanced for the clear and present danger a sinking and slowly collapsing California Water Aqueduct has on the future stability of water supplies for 60 percent of the state's population.

This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.