Governor Newsom: Water is Life, No Delta Tunnel

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Tribal Members and Youth Speak Out on Delta Tunnel: "Shut It Down!"

The message was loud and clear for state water officials at a public meeting Monday evening in Redding: Don't send any more water south through a proposed Delta tunnel project.

A group of more than 100 Native Americans rallied on the lawn of the Redding Civic Auditorium before they marched into a scoping meeting held inside the Redding Sheraton Hotel across the street.

"We're here today at the Delta tunnel scoping meeting to let the government know that we cannot sustain any more diversions from the Trinity River," said Margo Robbins, an adviser for the Hoopa High School Water Protectors Club. "As native people, we rely on the river and the salmon as part of our traditional heritage. We cannot afford to let anything further erode our river systems."

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The state Department of Water Resources held the Redding meeting at the request of far Northern California tribes and the Hoopa High School students, according to Regina Chichizola, spokeswoman for Save California Salmon. She said tribal members from Hoopa Valley, Yurok, Karuk, Pit River and Miwok attended along with Winnemem Wintu people.

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State officials invited comments on the Delta Conveyance plan, which environmental program manager Carrie Buckman said would improve the reliability of water transfers from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to the south state. Public comment will be used in the environmental analysis for the project's decision-makers.

Nobody who spoke during the more than two-and-a-half-hour meeting was in favor of the Delta tunnel project, saying water from the Trinity and Klamath rivers was more precious to salmon and their ancestral way of life. The Trinity is a major tributary for the Klamath.

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Buckman said at the beginning the proposal relates to the State Water Project and not the Bureau of Reclamation and its Trinity River diversion for the Central Valley Project.

"The project does not include any changes to the Trinity or Klamath rivers," Buckman said.

Water from the Trinity River watershed is shipped via tunnel from Lewiston Reservoir to Whiskeytown Lake. All the water in Whiskeytown eventually ends up in the Sacramento River after generating hydroelectric power.

Some of the water in Whiskeytown Lake is shipped through another tunnel into Keswick Lake, which releases into the Sacramento River. Water also is released from Whiskeytown Dam and into Clear Creek, which also flows into the river.

Further environmental analysis would be needed if the Bureau of Reclamation decides later to participate in the state project, Buckman said.

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That didn't satisfy most of the 200 or so people at the scoping session, which turned raucous with shouting at times from the audience and included a chant of "Shut it Down."

Several speakers asked the state to include a no-tunnel alternative in the scoping report. Other speakers likened river diversions to cultural genocide because of harm done to salmon and the Indians' existence. A few speakers vowed to physically block the project should construction move forward.

Buy PhotoMargo Robbins, an adviser for the Hoopa High School Water Protectors Club, rallies for the protection of the Trinity and Klamath rivers while holding a photo of her daughter and granddaughter with Klamath River salmon. Demonstrators protested against the proposed Delta Conveyance Plan outside the Sheraton Redding Hotel where the state Department of Water Resources held a public meeting Monday evening, March 2, 2020, on the proposal for a new tunnel to transfer water to Southern California. (Photo: Mike Chapman/Record Searchlight)
"I know you're saying, "Oh, it's not the Trinity. Oh, it's not the Klamath.'" But the more you pull on the Sacramento, the more you pull on the American, the more you pull on the Feather River ... the more you pull on those rivers will pull over on ours," said Georgiana Gensaw of Klamath.

"We are not dumb ... we know what that tunnel is coming for. We are Indians. We know how things work. If there's a road, a highway is coming next ... we see things down the line," Genshaw said.

Jack Trout, a longtime fly fishing guide on the Sacramento and Klamath rivers, said now is a crucial time to protect salmon runs that "need enhancement, not destruction, not tunnels."

"We need to send a message to (Gov.) Gavin Newsom that they cannot do this tunnel ... and deliver our water down to the south state. They need to work on solutions," Trout said.

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Caleen Sisk, spiritual leader and tribal chief of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe spoke about contaminated water that flows into the Sacramento River and criticized the meeting's time limitation that prevented everyone from voicing their opinions.

"This meeting is unacceptable. When you can't allow all the speakers to talk, another meeting should be scheduled," Sisk said.

The Redding scoping session was one of eight held throughout the state and the farthest north.

The Department of Water Resources is taking comments onthrough 5 p.m. March 20 via email at or by mail at Delta Conveyance Scoping Comments, Attn: Renee Rodriguez, Department of Water Resources, P.O. Box 942836, Sacramento, CA 94236.


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