Delta protesters call on Secretary Jewell to not back peripheral tunnels

Written By: Dan Bacher, March 11, 2014

Delta protesters call on Secretary Jewell to not back peripheral tunnels



Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today will tour the federal C.W. “Bill” Jones Pumping Plant in Byron that exports Delta water to corporate agribusiness interests and oil companies - and Restore the Delta representatives will be on hand to protest Governor Jerry Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels. 

Jewell is going to the pumping plant to "examine firsthand firsthand critical water storage and conveyance facilities," according to a media advisory from the Department of Interior. The advisory is headlined, "Secretary Jewell to Tour California Water Facilities for On-the-Ground Examination of Historic Drought Issues." 

The federal and state pumping facilities in the South Delta are "ground zero" for the Delta ecosystem collapse. Millions of fish including Sacramento splittail, Central Valley Chinook salmon, steelhead, longfin smelt, Delta smelt, striped bass, threadfin shad, largemouth bass and other species are slaughtered in the pumps every year. 

Accompanying the Secretary will be California Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird, Acting Commissioner of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation Lowell Pimley, and other federal, state and local officials. The tour will be followed by a brief media availability on the federal-state response to the drought, according to the advisory. 

Only "credentialed media" are invited to the carefully choreographed photo opportunity - the public hasn't been invited. 

Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Governor Brown’s rush to build peripheral tunnels that would drain the Delta and doom salmon and other Pacific fisheries, will hold a protest today, Tuesday, March 11, as Interior Secretary Jewell, one of the three people needed to approve the project, tours the pumping station. 

RTD will call upon Sec. Jewell to not support the tunnels, to let federal scientists do their job without political interference, and to embrace better policies for a sustainable water future. 

“Secretary Jewell should not be misled that the peripheral tunnels are of any value in meeting California’s water challenges, and we implore her not to support this boondoggle that benefits mainly a handful of unsustainable mega-growers,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of RTD. 

“The Secretary needs to know where our water is going to decide whether to spend billions to continue feeding water buffaloes, or to change direction. The peripheral tunnels are the wrong answer to our water scarcity. The secretary should meet with Delta farmers and community leaders, not just Westlands and exporting water districts," said Barrigan-Parrilla. 

The RTD protest will convene at 11:30 am at the C.W. “Bill” Jones Pumping Plant, 16650 Kelso Road, Byron. 

Between 2000 and 2011, more than 130 million fish were 'salvaged' at the state and federal project water export facilities in the South Delta, according to a white paper written by Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance. 

"Actual losses are far higher," said Jennings. "For example, recent estimates indicate that 5-10 times more fish are lost than are salvaged, largely due to the high predation losses in and around water project facilities.” 

Restore the Delta is a 15,000-member grassroots organization committed to making the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta fishable, swimmable, drinkable, and farmable to benefit all of California. Restore the Delta works to improve water quality so that fisheries and farming can thrive together again in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. For more information, go to: http://www.restorethedelta.org

Contacts: Steve Hopcraft 916/457-5546; steve [at] hopcraft.com; Twitter: @shopcraft; @MrSandHillCrane 
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla 209/479-2053 barbara [at] restorethedelta.org; Twitter: @RestoretheDelta 

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