FRENCH CAMP, Calif. — When it comes to managing the boom and bust cycle of California's water supply, Governor Gavin Newsom and the Department of Water Resources (DWR) have promoted a $16 billion project that would pump water from the delta down south.
Opponents to the plan have called it a "water grab" meant to serve the interests of Los Angeles and other parts of southern California.
"There’s a lot of people that live in Los Angeles, about 20 million of them. There’s a lot less who live here, and so it’s no surprise why we are overlooked on this issue time and time again," said Rep. Josh Harder to a gathering of San Joaquin County constituents Wednesday in a town hall focusing on water.
"They will drink us dry. They will turn us into a desert without putting a dent in their water use," said one man in the crowd.
The plan has had various incarnations since Gov. Jerry Brown first proposed a Delta tunnel in the 1980s. The current iteration proposed by Gov. Newsom is a scaled down version of previous plans, featuring a single tunnel.
DWR said the project would improve how the state captures, moves and stores water, but many people living in the delta believe it would draw away water that Central Valley farmers and residents need.
"It’s infrastructure for a water system that was built 75 years ago," said Barbara Barrigan-Parilla with Restore the Delta, a non-profit organization based in Stockton.
"There are a myriad of solutions that would put thousands of people to work in California and actually make more water. The tunnel isn’t it," she said.