Delta "Fix" a can of worms
The stink on the Delta these days isn't just the stink of fish species going extinct. Two state legislators are raising questions about how secure funding from the federal water contractors is for construction of the Delta tunnels. The Inspector General of the Department of Interior has opened an invistigation into how the federal Bureau of Reclamation, foremost enabler of gigantic water projects in the West, has been diverting funds designated for species restoration to the twin tunnels project.
This one has the earmarks of a possible end-of-regime financial scandal the size of the Julia McDonald afffair at the end of the Bush Jr. presidential term with the added attraction of the Swan Song of Moonbeam.
Stay tuned. -- blj
Chronicles of the Hydraulic Brotherhood
State Audit requested for proposed Delta Twin Tunnels
From the offices of Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman and Senator Lois Wolk:
Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman and Senator Lois Wolk announced on Monday that they will request a state audit of California Water Fix, the new name for a very old project to divert water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
“There are still too many unanswered questions about how the Twin Tunnels are to be funded and who is going to pay for them,” said Eggman, D-Stockton. “With a federal investigation pending into whether billions of dollars meant for other purposes have already been misused, it is time for us to demand a higher level of scrutiny and public accountability for this project.”
“At a projected cost of $15 billion and climbing, California policy makers should be concerned about the source and accountability for funding for the Delta tunnels project. Currently the proposed Delta tunnels project has no financing plan for its construction, operation or maintenance,” said Wolk, D-Davis, who represents four of the five counties in the Delta. “Proponents of the project claim that the beneficiary will pay, yet the ability and willingness of the contractors to pay is in serious question. Hundreds of millions of dollars have already been spent to conduct preliminary environmental review and engineering studies. Any further investment should be made with the utmost transparency to ensure that taxpayers are not paying the bill.”
The legislator’s announcement followed the release of a detailed Public Records Act request by Restore the Delta, a Stockton-based environmental advocacy group that is opposed to the construction of the Twin Tunnels. Restore the Delta also requested an audit of the project, citing a long list of concerns about public spending on the project, and its legality.
“We are concerned that millions of California and U.S. taxpayers may end up paying for a water project without their informed consent, and contrary to the principle that ‘beneficiaries pay,’” Restore the Delta wrote in a letter to the legislators requesting the audit.
Last month, the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of the Interior opened an investigation into the federal Bureau of Reclamation’s financial support of the Twin Tunnels project. The Inspector General was responding to a complaint by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, which said in its complaint that funds dedicated to fish habitat had been spent inappropriately on the project, and that the state had double-billed for work that had supposedly been performed under an earlier $50 million grant.