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Rep. Garamendi visits Chico, slams governor's water tunnel plan

By Jerry Olenyn, jolenyn@krcrtv.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 02:54:38 AM CST
Updated On: Aug 22 2013 12:05:00 PM CDT
Representative John Garamendi
CHICO, Calif. -

California's water problem took center stage at a meeting in Chico Wednesday.

At issue, is the controversial Bay Delta Conservation Plan, which includes what supporters call an efficient water conveyance. But critics call a destructive plumbing system.

One of the plan's harshest critics, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield) visited for the water forum, and explained his opposition to the plan.

Despite being a dedicated Democrat, Garamendi is speaking out in opposition to Democratic Governor Jerry Brown's plan to solve California's water problem.

“I agree with most everything else he's done,” said Garamendi.  “He's been a good governor. He's got this one dead wrong.”

The key component of the governor's plan are two underground tunnels, which would allow water from the northern part of the state to travel south where water is in short supply.   The south would siphon off water from the North.

It would bypass the Delta, thus leaving habitat unaffected for the most part.

Paul Gosselin, Butte County Director of Water and Resource Conservation is also concerned about the governor’s plan.

 “What we're concerned with is how they go about doing this plan,” said Gosselin. “They don't re-direct our ground water and take more ground water away from us.”

When asked if the plan would give the Northstate greater control or less control over how much water is taken from the North, Shasta Public Works Supervising Engineer Eric Wedemeyer said it depends.

“It depends on who has got their hand on the valve,” said Wedemeyer.

Garamendi said another drawback is the high cost of the governor’s plan.

“This is an extraordinarily expensive way to steal water from the North, deliver it to the South and not solve water problems at all.”

Garamendi said his solution is more comprehensive.  He said he wants conservation, recycling and levee improvements, all while protecting existing water rights.

Garamendi also emphasized 's need to generate water, saying that the snow pack will decrease by 25 to 40 percent by the year 2050.