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LA's grab for SJ Valley, Delta land and water

POSTED August 21, 2015 9:41 p.m.

All Californians are created equal unless you’re the little guy in the San Joaquin Valley or the Delta.

The great land grab for the benefit of Los Angeles developers who need water to fuel their profits is drawing near.

Just a year after slicing and dicing through family-owned farms and taking property with fast-lane eminent domain for the high speed rail to serve the wealthier Los Angeles-San Francisco business crowd, Sacramento is now preparing to seize 300 Delta farms as a precursor to robbing the Delta of the natural flow of Sacramento River water so it can be sucked into tunnels and the dumped near the Tracy pumps.

It’s all so LA can spend less money treating drinking water and keep the flow going to hose down sidewalks in future droughts and to make sure development can keep occurring no matter how dire the Sierra snowpack gets.

Make no doubt about. The Twin Tunnels aren’t about creating new water supplies. It isn’t even about restoring the Delta as recent documents out of Sacramento make clear. Nor is it about increasing water security for all of California. It is about keeping the Los Angeles Metropolitan Water District whole at the expense of the San Joaquin Valley and the Delta.

In case the so-called public servants in Sacramento who cobbled together in secret a 30-day plan to seize the 300 farms haven’t noticed, the lack of water due to the drought is causing serious consequences in the Delta ecological system. Imagine what would happen if the Twin Tunnels were in place now. Take most of the Sacramento River flow out of the heart flow the Delta and it will be even worse based on what we are now seeing. Of course the only way to replace the Sacramento River water is to take it from elsewhere. There is only one elsewhere — the San Joaquin River watershed.

What we are now experiencing in terms of water shortages in the San Joaquin Valley will become a permanent situation as farms, cities, and the general economy of the region will be sacrificed to keep Los Angeles propped up and growing.

The water to “save” the Delta and fish has to come from somewhere. If Brown succeeds in taking the bulk of the Sacramento River out of the Delta and reroute it into the Twin Tunnels he is signing a death warrant for the San Joaquin Valley.

State Senator Lois Wolk, D-Davis, who chairs a committee on the Delta stated the obvious on Monday. “If these reports (of a plan being in place for 30-day property seizures) are correct, then we have further confirmation that the tunnels project has been a foregone conclusion.”

Brown and tunnel proponents want no debate. Brown made that clear in May when he told critics of the tunnels to “shut up.” Nor do they want the public or the public’s representatives to decide the fate of their latest project to make large swaths of California subservient to the wants and desires of Los Angeles developers, special interests and the south state mega-farmers that get huge amounts of water from the Metropolitan Water District.

And they certainly don’t want to get bogged down by property owners exercising rights that are allegedly protected in the California constitution regarding due process.

Under the plan cobbled in secret, farmers would have 30 days to consider and negotiate a one-time state offer. At the same time the state will prepare eminent domain proceedings to take the property by forced sales if they don’t get the answer they want at the end of 30 days.

Sure, you know the executioner is coming. But this, in many cases, is property your family has farmed for 140 years. You may have had an appraisal done but the odds are it won’t match the bone the state will toss your way. It means you just have 30 days to consider a one-time offer and to make a case about economic production values, land values, relocation costs and such. The state can’t even get you your tax refund in 30 days yet they expect farmers to give up their entire life and livelihood in 30 days.

It is abundantly clear that the Twin Tunnels project is both a water and land grab.

In short, Sacrament is making losers out of the San Joaquin Valley and the Delta so moneyed Los Angeles interests can keep the water flowing to fuel their fortunes.



This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Journal or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com or 209.249.3519.

 

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