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Castro Valley forum to consider Delta tunnels

CASTRO VALLEY — Representatives of both for and against arguments about a plan to dig two massive tunnels under the Delta to carry water from the Sacramento River to federal and state pumps in Tracy will talk about the plan at a forum here Feb. 20.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration has proposed building two tunnels, each 40 feet in diameter, running 35 miles under the Delta, and restoring 147,000 acres of wetlands and other habitat.

Supporters say the tunnels would make it easier to move water south without grinding up salmon, smelt and other fish in giant pumps at Tracy, which has caused federal officials in recent years to limit pumping. Environmentalists and Delta politicians say it could result in even more water being taken from the Delta.

Speaking in favor of the tunnels will be Paul Helliker, deputy director of the state Department of Water Resources, Delta and Statewide Water Management, and Jill Duerig, general manager of Livermore/Amador Valley Zone 7 Water Agency.

Arguing against the tunnels will be Barbara Barrigan-Parilla, executive director of Restore the Delta, and Nick Di Croce of the Environmental Water Caucus.

Brown’s administration has been describing his plan to build the tunnels through the Delta as a $25 billion project. That would rank it as one of the largest public works plans in California history. But when factoring in long-term financing costs, the price tag actually ranges from $51 billion to $67 billion, according to the Mercury News, a sister newspaper of this publication.

The forum is not a debate, emphasizes the League of Women Voters Eden Area, sponsors of the event along with the Sierra Club Bay Chapter Water Committee, the Sierra Club Southern Alameda County Group, and the Castro Valley Library.

The free discussion will be at the Castro Valley Library, 3600 Norbridge Ave., from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 20. Advance registration is recommended because seating is limited. To register, go to http://bit.ly/LTw59e

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