Tuesday, May 14, 2013

San Joaquin Delta Water Project To Cost $14 Billion, Disrupt Farming

San Joaquin Delta vineyard and orchard owners are facing condemnation of their most fertile land and disruption of their carefully crafted soil drainage systems should Governor Jerry Brown push through his proposed Bay Delta Conservation Plan, including twin 44 foot diameter, 35 mile long fresh water aqueduct tunnels and related industrial infrastructure, landfills and reservoirs costing an estimated $14 billion. The proposal, seven years in the planning stage, is the governor's effort to resolve tension between the residents of the ecologically stressed delta, and the fresh water demand of 25 million Californians and 3 million acres of farmland elsewhere in the state.

The delta's picturesque thousand miles of waterways surrounding 70 islands, dotted with vineyards and orchards, some of which have been owned by the same families for over 160 years, is threatened under the planned condemnation of 1,000 acres of farmland for inundation as a reservoir, another 610 acres for excavation as a borrow pit, and various locations for permanent disposal sites for 27 million tons of tunnel muck storage to be spread 6 feet deep across a total of 717 acres of the nation's most fertile agricultural property.

In addition, delta residents and the native wildlife inhabiting the Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge could be subjected to the noise and vibration from 8,400 pile driving hammer strikes per day for a period of four months or more during landfill construction for the project. Delta landowners have been unable to market their real estate to anyone since the project's planning was launched seven years ago, because of their legal obligation to disclose to prospective purchasers the threatened condemnation of their land. Some have already become involved in court proceedings intended to delay or prevent the issuance of temporary entry permits so project planners could bore out soil samples for analysis in the project planning process. 

Legal proceedings respecting condemnation of the properties ultimately destined to be within the project's planned footprint could add years to the proposed project's timeline, and billions to its ultimate cost to taxpayers and water ratepayers. 

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