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Ratepayers urge MWD to use LA dollars to fix water system, not build tunnels
by Dan Bacher
Thursday Oct 22nd, 2015 9:01 AM
Brenna Norton of Food & Water Watch said the current draft of Metropolitan’s 25-year Integrated Water Resources Plan (IRP) proposes building the $67 billion dollar tunnels project, and identifying additional funds to invest in conservation and local water programs. "Mayor Garcetti should block any L.A. dollars from being used to fund the tunnels and demand that L.A. dollars fix L.A. water," she concluded.
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Ratepayers urge MWD to use LA dollars to fix water system, not build tunnels

by Dan Bacher

As the public comment period for Governor Jerry Brown's Delta Tunnels nears its final day on October 30, LA ratepayers and local organizations today exposed how the Metropolitan Water District is undermining Los Angeles’ water security at MWD’s water-supply workshop. The ratepayers convened at 9:00 a.m, at the District's headquarters at 700 N Alameda St, Los Angeles outside the side entrance in the courtyard.

"The groups urged Mayor Eric Garcetti and his appointed board members to demand MWD reinstate conservation programs and release the millions of dollars the agency has over-collected in preparation to fund a wasteful tunnel project that will mostly benefit greedy corporate agribusinesses and provide no new water to Los Angeles," according to Brenna Norton of Food & Water Watch in a news advisory.

As a statewide drought crisis persists and L.A. braces for a potential El Niño storm cycle for which it is ill-prepared, the Angelenos staffed a "Real L.A. Water Facts Station" outside MWD to inform participants in the MWD’s "Integrated Water Resources Plan Workshop." Residents also participated in the workshop today.

The groups organizing the "Facts Station" included Food & Water Watch, the Southern California Watershed Alliance, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, neighborhood council leaders, other leading grassroots and water groups and Los Angeles ratepayers and community leaders.

The station featured colorful signs set up outside of MWD, surrounded by dozens of L.A. area residents discussing the real facts about L.A. water in preparation for the MWD public workshop on the draft 25-year water plan.

"For the third year in a row, MWD’s board voted to increase the amount of money it collects from property taxes," said Norton. "MWD has collected almost $800 million more than necessary to pay for items in its adopted budgets over the past three years. In a board letter requesting a tax hike, MWD noted that it intends to use the revenue from the increase to finance the construction of the 35-mile twin tunnels to divert the Sacramento River."

"But, the massive water tunnels project has not been approved by the MWD board for financing, and the project’s Environmental Impact Review has not been finalized. Nevertheless, MWD continues to stockpile millions of dollars to support the statewide project that will bring no new water to L.A," she said.

Governor Jerry Brown, who unfortunately has full authority to advance the tunnels project without a vote of the people, continues to collaborate with corporate agribusiness interests to promote the tunnels in order to funnel massive amounts of water to irrigate drainage-impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, according to Norton.

Norton said proponents of the so-called "California Water Fix," formerly called the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, continue to pressure L.A. for a $6 billion contribution to the tunnels. The project’s financing plan relies on significant water rate and property tax hikes in Los Angeles and throughout Southern California. MWD would have to hold a full board vote of all City member agencies to finance construction of the tunnels project.

"As Gov. Brown and corporate interests continue to push this boondoggle project, L.A.’s water systems continue to deteriorate," she stated. "The L.A. Department of Water & Power needs to invest billions of dollars into fixing the aging pipes and water infrastructure beneath the city; billions more are needed to meet Mayor Eric Garcetti's initiative to reduce imported water 50% by 2025 to create a more reliable and cost effective water supply in L.A."

"Furthermore, the City should reinstate recently discontinued incentive programs and invest in immediate measures to prepare to capture likely heavy rainfall in the event of a strong El Niño. These local programs – not the wrong-headed tunnels project – should be the priority of Mayor Garcetti and MWD," Norton emphasized.

Norton said the current draft of Metropolitan’s 25-year Integrated Water Resources Plan (IRP) proposes building the $67 billion dollar tunnels project, and identifying additional funds to invest in conservation and local water programs. "Mayor Garcetti should block any L.A. dollars from being used to fund the tunnels and demand that L.A. dollars fix L.A. water," she concluded.

For more information, contact http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org

Take Action Now: You have only 8 days left to comment on the Delta Tunnels revised EIR/EIS that was released in July. The comment period closes on October 30, 2015. Please send a comment now on the proposed Delta Tunnels through the Restore the Delta website: http://restorethedelta.org/take-action-oppose-the-delta-tunnels/

The Delta Tunnels Plan/California Water Fix is just one of the many environmentally devastating policies of the Brown administration. Governor Brown has relentlessly promoted the expansion of fracking and extreme oil extraction methods in California; has pushed water policies that have driven salmon, steelhead, Delta smelt and other fish to the edge of extinction; presided over record water exports out of the Delta in 2011; backs the clearcutting of forests in the Sierra Nevada; and is a strong supporter of neo-liberal carbon trading policies that routinely promote environmentally ineffective and socially unjust projects across the globe.

The Brown administration also "completed" the creation of questionable "marine protected areas" under the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative that fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil spills, offshore oil drilling, pollution, military testing, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering. The "State Marine Reserves" created under this privately funded process violate the sovereign rights of the Yurok Tribe and other North Coast Tribes by banning sustainable Tribal gathering and fishing.

For a complete discussion of Brown’s tainted environmental policies, go to http://www.truth-out.org/speakout/item/30452-the-extinction-governor-rips-the-green-mask-off-his-tunnels-plan

For an in-depth discussion of how the oil industry was able to remove a significant provision of SB 350 and defeat other environmental legislation, go to: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/32836-california-activists-call-for-fracking-ban