California Governor Jerry Brown seemed to have the ball in his field regarding the twin tunnels project aimed at diverting water around Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to Southern California.
The advantage mirrored the fact that the twin tunnels project would not have to face a public vote. This may drastically change as Dean Cortopassi is looking to gather support for an initiative that would require large public projects to be approved by voters.
Governor Jerry Brown envisaged that the twin tunnels project would allow for a 15 billion dollar conveyance for which water users would undoubtedly pay. Dean Cortopassi however, sees things differently.
Dean Cortopassi is the wealthy food processor and farmer based in Stockton, and according to Robin Swanson, who is working for the pro-tunnels Californians for Water Security as a consultant:
“He has money. And he has his own political agenda”.
And if Dean Cortopassi’s initiative gathers sufficient support, it will feature on the November 2016 ballot, possibly endangering all large public project works in California.
Californians for Water Security, the pro-tunnels group is not stranger to a strongly held political agenda and big money either. Comprising labor, agricultural and business interests, Californians for Water Security is also a key player in the turnout of the November 2016 ballot initiative.
With sufficient support, Dean Cortopassi’s initiative could bring Governor Jerry Brown’s twin tunnels project a bundle of problems, starting with the public works contracts or water deliveries. To this extent, a not so hushed battle is shaping up. Californians for Water Security has already started the counter-fire: pro-twin tunnels advertisement and online anti-Cortopassi campaigns.
And they are not alone. Californian building trades, as well as other supporting the twin tunnels project are gearing up for an anti-Cortopassi initiative.
The twin tunnels project proposed by Governor Jerry Brown failed to receive the initial 50-year permit that supporters hailed as attractive due to the water deliveries certainty. In April, Governor Brown announced that a shorter permit would be sought. However, the move would come with a blow to habitat restoration.
Water agencies downstream invested an approximate 235 million dollars so far in seeing the twin tunnels project grow so far. What they saw was a system that is reliable enough to provide water to both cities and crops across California.
Now, they are slightly disappointed. Westlands Water District deputy general manager Jason Peltier argued:
“Getting more money to do more work that may or may not lead to a viable project is going to be very difficult. So that’s on one hand. On the other hand, there’s a very simple reality that people know that these problems are not going to fix themselves”.
Yet, Delta landowners, as well as northern Californians do not seem to share the view. At large, because the water demands of southern California is draining the water of northern California. Against this background, Governor Jerry Brown’s office released the environmental impact review of the revised twin tunnels project just on Thursday.
Governor Brown is confident that the water tunnels are greatly needed in order to stabilize the water deliveries for California. At the same time, Brown argues that the Delta’s ecosystem would benefit in terms of restoration.
Yet, Dean Cortopassi is also playing the Delta restoration card in gaining support for his initiative. Since 2008 he helped the Restore the Delta group, vocally against the twin tunnels project, raise funds.
If Cortopassi’s initiative features on the November 2016 ballot, voter approval might pitch it against large public works projects across California.
Image Source: peakwater.org
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