California plans to seize farms to build water tunnels
August 18, 2015
California officials are preparing to take as many as 300 Central Valley farms by eminent domain in order to build water tunnels, according to a report prepared by state contractors. [ABC News]
Governor Jerry Brown is calling for the state to build two 30-mile tunnels in the delta formed by the San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers. The plan targets public and private land in Sacramento, San Joaquin, Contra Costa and Alameda counties.
Landowners would have 30 days to consider and negotiate a one-time state offer, according to the 160-page property acquisition report. If landowners do not sell, officials will take their property by force.
Opponents of the plan obtained the property acquisition report through a California records request. Opponents say the water tunnels would jeopardize farming in the delta and would destroy vital wildlife habitat.
Brown has pushed for a delta makeover since he first held the governorship in 1970s and 1980s. In May, Brown told critics of the proposed tunnels to “shut up.”
Brown’s administration said it is essential to re-engineer water flows of the delta to undo mistakes of past water projects and to supply water to Southern California.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which serves 17 million people, would be one of the agencies to benefit from the tunnels. The Southern California district, as well as water agencies in the Bay Area and Central California, paid for the property acquisition plan, a Department of Water Resources spokesperson said.
The project is currently in a period for public comment on the environmental impact of the tunnels. The federal Environmental Protection Agency, which opposed a prior version of the project, must have its say, as well.
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