FishLivesMatter: California To Decide If Saving 'Delta Smelt' Is Worth $65 Billion Of Taxpayer Money

Tyler Durden's picture

Starting tomorrow, California's State Water Resources Control Board will begin hosting months of public hearings on whether or not to proceed with Jerry Brown's controversial "California WaterFix" project, or the "Delta Tunnels" as it is more commonly known.  The project has been heavily criticized as yet another Brown-sponsored public works boondoggle with total price tag estimates ranging to over $65BN.
California Delta

We have to admit that we're a little perplexed by this project as it seems to address only one of the symptoms of California's water crisis while completely ignoring the overall illness which is the complete inflexibility of the Endangered Species Act.  While the twin tunnels may limit the number of smelt getting ensnared in the Delta pumping stations it does nothing to address the salinity issues raised by environmentalists when too much fresh water is removed from the system.  Maybe we're a little dense, but it's unclear to us how moving upstream to divert fresh water flows from the Sacramento River, a river which otherwise empties into the Delta and accounts for roughly 85% of the total fresh water flows into the system, rather than pulling it directly from the existing pumping stations would have any impact on overall salinity levels in the Delta.  As we discussed here just a few days ago, without addressing the inflexibility of the Endangered Species Act this is simply another opportunity to squander taxpayer money on more water infrastructure that will never actually be used because of leadership's inability and/or lack of desire to stand up to California's environmentalists in favor of practical solutions.

For those of you less familiar the intricacies of the proposal, the Delta Tunnels project calls for diverting a portion of the Sacramento River’s fresh water flow via new gravity-fed intakes more than 30 miles upstream, between Clarksburg and Courtland. The water would then flow south via two 40-foot-wide pipes buried 150 feet underground and ultimately feed into the existing state and federal canal systems.

While there are multiple viewpoints on the pros/cons of the Delta Tunnels (often based on where a person lives, farms, etc.), in general, proponents argue that the tunnel plan is better for the Delta Smelt population as it reduces reliance on large pumping stations at the south end of the Delta that often entrap the small fish.  Opponents, on the other hand, view the tunnels simply as a form of corporate welfare for large corporate ag interests and/or are concerned that the tunnels will do nothing to actually increase water flows to the southern part California without relaxing rules under the Endangered Species Act.

Proposed Delta Tunnel Plan

Separately, California voters in November will be presented with a ballot initiative that could effectively torpedo the tunnels plan. Proposition 53, would require a statewide vote on any public works project financed with at least $2 billion in revenue bonds.

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wisehiney's picture

It is not nice to fool with mother nature.

Stuck on Zero's picture

For the cost of a project like that you could add twenty new desalination plants and stop messing with Mother nature.

RafterManFMJ's picture

As someone that does not live in CA, nor will ever live in CA, and is unlikely to ever visit CA, I wholeheartedly recommend this system to save the smelt and propose funding be increased to an even 100 billion dollars. I love watching a train wreck!

peddling-fiction's picture

Don´t the Californians have more pressing issues?

Mr. Universe's picture

Yes we do, but for some reason this fucking asshole Jerry Brown just won't go away. 80% of California water goes to farmers who "feed america' or so the signs on the hiways tell us. Growing cotton in a freaking desert on piped water is only feeding the piggies at the trough, but I digress. Back to the point of my message. Fuck You Jerry Brown and the Horse you rode in on. wait , scratch that, Jerry rode in on his daddy's coat tails. Not to worry, the media will make sure the campaign for the bonds will explain it in simple Spanish so our voters will easily pass it. I would vote with my feet, but I'm tarded and no one understands me like Jerry does.

You see, a pimp's love is very different from that of a square.

PositiveChanges's picture

"...for some reason...?"


Because dumbsh$ts re-elected him?   Just guessing here.


bobbbny's picture

Hello Governor Moonbeam.

Did you know you can pull pure water from the atmosphere at a fraction of the cost?

Look it up. Think de-humidifier. Just one more blocked technology like zero point energy.

MagicHandPuppet's picture

The funniest part of this story is thinking about all the bleeding heart Cali commies who believe that this elaborate tax payer funded plan is all to save the smelt.

BeanusCountus's picture

Please, save the smelt. Save them so I can eat them. Very tasty, especially sauteed. Now if you don't, I will just have to move to trout. Which is also very tasty. But where is the justice in that? And it's ONLY 65 BILLION for cripes sakes. PLEASE California, do the right thing.

You f'in assholes.

gregga777's picture

Logic and/or common sense are irrelevant to the Environmental Religion cultists.

NoDebt's picture

That's the damned truth.  

Of course, it's important to realize that environmental regulations are an important tool in the globaist agenda to control everything.  In fact, it's their MOST important control tool.  At that level (and ONLY at that level) does this have any explanation that can be considered "rational".  If you want to control everything, you need tools that can touch EVERYTHING.  Environmental regulation can touch EVERYTHING from mud puddles in your back yard after a rain storm to the CO2 you exhale with every breath.


Zoomorph's picture

It's tempting to caricaturize those who you disagree with as lacking "logic" or "common sense", but that's not often the case. People have differing values. Logic only works on premises and in and of itself says nothing.

Bay Area Guy's picture

Actually, for many in the environmental movement in California, NoDebt is spot on.  They lack logic and common sense.  A case in point is that they have clamored for years for more alternative sources of power, bemoaning the use of fossil fuels.  Fine.  I don't have a problem with someone having that conviction.  However, when each of the even remotely viable alternative sources is discussed, the environmentalists are the first ones screaming it can't be done.  Wind power?  No.  Supposedly kills too many birds.  Hydroelectric?  No, have to build dams for that.  Wave power?  No.  Disrupts the beaches.  I don't even have to explain the aversion to nuclear (an aversion that I happen to share).  The only one they seem to endorse is solar and from what I've read, more fossil fuel energy is used in the production of solar panels than is saved by the use of the panels.

So, yeah, they lack logic in that they are clamoring for technology, and then they themselves put up the roadblocks to implementing that technology.

Anopheles's picture

There's no problem with properly implemented nuclear.  It's by far the best choice. 

As for wind and solar?  In fact, they require nearly 100% hot, spinning backup generators (generators running all the time)  ready to cut in if a cloud goes in front of a solar farm, or the wind dies momentarily.

That spinning backup still uses a LOT of fuel.   Not as much as at full output, but still a lot. 

An inconvenient truth that the greenies NEVER MENTION.

Bay Area Guy's picture

My qualms about nuclear are contained in your first sentence.....properly implemented nuclear.  As my name implies, I live in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is our utility company.  For those not familiar with PG&E, I refer you back to a little incident in September, 2010 where an improperly maintained, and ridiculously old, PG&E high capacity natural gas line running under a residential area in San Bruno exploded, killing eight people and effectively leveling an entire neighborhood.  I simply don't trust PG&E to be able to properly implement tying their shoes much less a nuclear power plant.  Exhibit II in my case is TEPCO and the monumental clusterfuck that is Fukushima.  Again, these guys seemed to have trouble chewing gum and walking at the same time, much less have the ability to properly implement nuclear.

In short, while I don't at all doubt your statement that properly implemented nuclear is a good choice, I do seriously doubt a technology that, if not implemented properly, has the ability to kill thousands of people in the relative blink of an eye.  Perhaps if the regulators weren't in bed with the companies that they are supposed to be regulating (see CPUC and PGE, TEPCO and the Japanese government), I'd have a little more faith.

Anopheles's picture

Yes, Fukushima was a disaster.  They didn't even do the upgrades to the reactors that all the US reactors had done one or two decades earlier.

And the entire meltdown could have been prevented if they had manually opened ONE VALVE.  Poor training is to blame. 

phatfawzi's picture

its not that they lack logic rather having just one goal and thats to stymie capital growth. they are no different than muslims, why do you think in over 40-50 years they can't come to a peacefull solution with isreal. Clearly the jews have compromised but thats not what islms want, they seek total submission to their values and beiliefs or total anihlation of the jews. Which is why many on the right view climate change belivers as a religious cult. like most religions you have the leaders drivern by hunger or power  and money and followed blindely the masses. Using junk science and empty prediction, the world will end in 100 years or the polar ice caps will dissapear in xx years. 

Bay Area Guy's picture

I'll pass on commenting on your reply.

Anopheles's picture

I've had to deal with environmentalists from a project/technical perspective.  The every one has been an absolute wackjob.   They have no use for logic or common sense.  They are TRUE BELIEVERS, in the same boat as creationists and conspiracy theorists that believe in geoengineering and chemtrails.   

CPL's picture

California is currently on fire if anyone is interested.

nmewn's picture

They could smother it with Oprah's ass if they really wanted to.

Bay Area Guy's picture

C'mon.  It's not like it's the entire state.....yet.

ThrownOffZHTwice's picture
ThrownOffZHTwice (not verified) Jul 25, 2016 8:26 PM

Whoever smelt it, dealt it (no, I didn't say delta it).

HRH of Aquitaine's picture
HRH of Aquitaine (not verified) Jul 25, 2016 8:31 PM

If this goes through it will just be one more way to waste huge amounts of taxpayer money.

I spent some time in the San Joaquin Valley, in my youth, growing up on 2000 acres. We raised crossbred Angus and Brahma beef cattle, oats, and got 3 to 4 cuttings of prime alfalfa a year. The neighbor's had hundreds of acres of almond trees. What is there now? Not much. The almond orchards have long since dried up and been razed. Irrigating oat fields, pastures, and alfalfa is no longer cost effective.

I hate the environmental wackos for how they have destroyed that once beautiful valley. Fucking communists.

Miss Expectations's picture

A qan?t ????‎ is one of a series of well-like vertical shafts, connected by gently sloping tunnels. They create a reliable supply of water for human settlements and irrigation in hot, arid and semi-arid climates.
The qanat technology is known to have been developed by the Persian people sometime in the early 1st millennium BC and spread from there slowly west and eastward.

ACES FULL's picture


Smelt discrimination must cease NOW!!

If it saves just one smelt then it was worth it.

I hearby call for sardines to be afforded the same rights to life as smelt.

Urban Redneck's picture

So $65 billion in new DEBT for a bankrupt institution (under private sector standards) to save(??? in theory/hope) some non-native invasive species of fish. If the smelt is extinct instead of endangered, then the Endangered Species Act no longer applies. How much would it cost to eradicate the fish (and thus eliminate both the debate and the taxpayer expense)?

wisehiney's picture

They could have a smelt ticket for the high speed rail train.

Anopheles's picture

It would cost about $1000 worth of Rotenone to eradicate all the fish.   It's an ORGANIC pesticide.  But it's also used to kill fish.   Drop it in the river and it will kill all fish for at least 20 miles downstream.  

NoWayJose's picture

This whole project smelt from the start!

I Write Code's picture

For just one billion dollars a year they could have a bucket-brigade of Mexicans at $3/hr do the same job, but no, they want to waste the money on Big Tunnels.

Argos's picture

I'm totally against voting for any lawyer for public office.  They only know how to twist words.  Vote for engineers.  They can fix things.  Problem.... think... solution.

Bay Area Guy's picture

You should read a series of articles that were published in the San Francisco Chronicle, authored by Jaxon Van Derbeken regarding how well the engineers on the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge did in their design and implementation of that boondoggle.  You won't look at engineers in quite the same way.  Forget that the bridge took 25 years from the time the orginal bridge was damaged in the Loma Prieta Quake.  Forget that is was appromately $8 billion (800%) over budget.  Just concentrate on the fact that virtually nothing about the bridge WORKS.  And it has little to do with the quality of the Chinese steel that was used.  It has to do with the design and the implementation of it, all directed by CalTrans engineers.  It's a bridge that has a very good chance of failing in the next major earthquake in this area and many people, myself included, will simply not drive on it for that reason.

JustPastPeacefield's picture

CalTrans have any quotas, or do they only hire the best? Something tells me ...

mary mary's picture

State Departments of Transportation have huge budgets, and therefore always have some degree of corruption.

Stormtrooper's picture

Do those Delta smelt taste anything like Sardines?  I like'em in mustard sauce.  Maybe we can teach those California liberals how to fish so that they can support themselve rather that living off EBT.

directaction's picture

What a waste.
We could do something useful instead, like build twenty nuclear-powered Virginia-class submarines for that kind of money. 

neuronius's picture

why is it that everytime an animal is about to go extinct, they blame it on humans?  couldn't it be, that the species should die off anyway?    survival of the fittest?  by interfering, they prevent the natural order from allowing the cycle of life to occur.  These people, who claim they are fighting for the Earth, are doing no such thing.  They are enemies of Nature, and of Mankind.  let their fiat money run out, and let them try and fend for themselves in the real market of ideas.  they would die off, just like these delta smelt.  they know it, which is why they fight so hard to keep alive a dying species.  The dying species is them.

mary mary's picture

Every rich person I have ever met choose to live as close as he could get to as complex a natural system as he could find, whose location would still enable him to tend his business empire. 

But most of these same rich people are, necessarily, also into "growth" and "development", which means constantly increasing their businesses' sales, by increasing the quantity of customers and the quantity of goods produced for those customers.  For most businesses, that requires increasing population, which requires destroying complex natural systems and replacing them with far simpler man-made systems which support more human population, but far fewer species of all other living things.

Of course, these rich people don't destroy the complex natural systems right next to their homes.  They destroy the complex natural systems next to other people's homes.  They tell themselves that they "have to" serve their customers.  And then they donate to politicians who promise to do whatever things it takes to increase population, because that increases the number of customers.

So that's selfish, short-term thinking.

Mathematically, the result is that our Planet has fewer species every year.  We are, in fact, in the middle of a huge Extinction Event, and its cause is human overpopulation.  Already, Millenials have far fewer natural resources than Greatest Generationers had, and Millenials' grandchildren will have far fewer than Millenials have.

This does not seem to me to be a responsible way for us to conduct ourselves.

mary mary's picture

Overpopulation makes wealthy businessmen greatly wealthy, and in the long run ruins everything for everybody.

The real problem is overpopulation, and the only solution is to stop paying people to pump out babies.

HRH of Aquitaine's picture
HRH of Aquitaine (not verified) mary mary Jul 25, 2016 11:42 PM

Feel free to start solving "overpopulation." With yourself.

Quaerere_Veritatem's picture

Your "overpopulation" meme has grown tiresome.

You think repeating that tripe on every thread somehow makes it true?

mary mary's picture

I speak about overpopulation only when a problem discussed on ZH is actually the direct result of overpopulation. 

California is grossly overpopulated, and has resultingly become a spiral of environmental catastrophes, violent crime, through-the-roof taxes, and over-regulation.  I believe that if we reduced California population by half, we would eliminate 99% of California's problems.

But no California politician speaks about California's overpopulation, because every California politician is is making money off it, one way or another.  So... "after us, the deluge."

Overpopulation is basic, inescapable arithmetic.

cgnbob's picture

I work in AG in California. I have seen the devastion of the Brown administration turning the pumps off to farms and turning the southern and most fertile portion of the southern valley into a dust bowl. Recently, the LA water system bought the rice lands west of Sacramento.

The fix is in and they are going to do a Mulholland style diversion yet again so the richies in LA can keep their lawns green.

The question is, do you want food, or, green lawns?

The very fallacy of building the tunnels to save the smelt will make them extinct.

Bigger tunnels and bigger pumps.

I remember Brown's first term as governor here. The 74 plymouth, matteress on the floor of an apartment instead of the governors mansion, and, he was banging Linda Ronstadt, when she was hot.

Amazing what bought off can do to your moral compass.

mary mary's picture

This is an example of the inescapable principal that, the more people you crowd in, the more expensive it becomes to provide basic services for them.

Water is always a prime example.

Too many people AND too many farms, to feed to many people.  Only so much water.  Basic arithmetic.

Said In CONTEXT's picture

 Here's the REAL reason the delta smelt had to be saved

copy and paste link into your favorite browser if'll be enlightened to some real corruption..