Delta Twin Tunnels fight comes to Antioch
By John Crowder
On Thursday, March 6th, Antioch was the scene of the latest attack on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), otherwise known as the Twin Tunnels Project. Restore the Delta, which describes itself as “a grassroots campaign of residents and organizations committed to restoring the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta” hosted the “Water Quality Impact Forum.”
The event, held at the Lone Tree Golf & Event Center was well attended, not only by concerned Antioch residents, but by several local politicians, including State Assemblyman Jim Frazier, County Supervisor Mary Piepho, and members of both the Antioch City Council and the Antioch School Board.
The first presentation on the agenda was given by Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta. She provided an overview of the BDCP, focusing on the proposal “to build two giant tunnels to funnel water from the Sacramento River out of the Bay Area.”
She was followed by Melinda Terry, Executive Director, North Delta Water Agency, who spoke on “significant and unavoidable impacts of BDCP.”
The two speakers outlined a host of problems they claimed would occur if the tunnel project were permitted to go forward. Chief among these were a decline in water quality in the Delta.
“Water quality will unavoidably decline,” stated Terry.
She cited an increase in salinity in Antioch’s water supply, including a 51% increase in bromide levels and an increase in chloride. Other concerns included a potential decline in the fish population, and significant costs for the project that would be passed on to local residents.
“We would be hit with higher water rates,” said Terry. “A rate increase of $200 per year over 40 years by urban water rate payers [is projected.]”
Following Terry’s presentation, Frazier, who represents Antioch, began by noting that, “I absolutely oppose the twin tunnels and the BDCP plan.”
He went on to say that the plan would have a “devastating effect” on Antioch. Frazier then spoke about Assembly Bill 1671, which he introduced last month, and would require “legislative approval prior to the construction of any tunnel or water conveyance system through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.”
“I’m committed to working with each and every one of you to preserve the Delta and our way of life,” he concluded.
Piepho was the last speaker on the agenda, and she reinforced the comments made by Frazier.
“We need legislative oversight,” she said, “otherwise it would just be the governor and Southern California water interests making decisions.”
She went on to characterize the tunnel proposal as “a failed, flawed plan.”
Piepho stated that the project was of particular concern to Antioch residents because, “in Antioch 100% of the drinking water comes from this river right out here,” and “BDCP significantly degrades water quality in the Delta.” She concluded by stating, “It’s a job killer, it’s a cancer causer, it’s bad news.”
Following the meeting residents lined up to take bumper stickers and yard signs that were on hand for them to use to exhibit their opposition to the twin tunnels project. To learn more about the arguments put forward by those against the tunnels, visit www.restorethedelta.org. Arguments in support of the project can also be found online. State agencies involved with water policy have established www.baydeltaconservationplan.com to make their case for the BDCP.