CASTRO VALLEY -- A plan to dig two huge tunnels under the Delta to carry water to federal and state pumps in Tracy has been called both a boondoggle and a way to help the environment, and both sides will be heard at a community forum Feb. 20.
Gov. Jerry Brown proposes building two 40-foot-wide tunnels that divert water from the Delta, running 35 miles to pumps near Tracy that send water south. The project also would restore 147,000 acres of wetlands and other habitat in the Delta.
Supporters say the tunnels would make it easier to move water south from the Sacramento River without grinding up salmon, smelt and other fish in the giant pumps, which has caused federal officials to limit pumping. Environmentalists and others say the project -- the Bay Delta Conservation Plan -- could result in 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 and Jill Duerig, general manager of Livermore-Amador Valley Zone 7 Water Agency.
Arguing against the tunnels will be Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta, and Nick Di Croce of the Environmental Water Caucus.
The Brown administration has said the tunnels would cost $25 billion, making it one of the largest public works projects in California history. But when factoring in long-term financing costs, the price ranges from $51 billion to $67 billion.
The forum is not a debate, emphasizes the League of Women Voters of the Eden Area, sponsors of the event along with the Sierra Club Bay Chapter Water Committee and the Sierra Club Southern Alameda County Group. It will be moderated by Roberta Borgonovo, chairwoman of the Water Committee for the California League of Women Voters.
The free forum will from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 20 at the Castro Valley Library, 3600 Norbridge Ave. Seating is limited, and registration, at http://bit.ly/LTw59eis, is recommended.
Contact Rebecca Parr at 510-293-2473. Follow her at Twitter.com/rdparr1.
Forum on Bay Delta Conservation Plan
When: 6-8 p.m. Feb. 20
Where: Castro Valley Library, 3600 Norbridge Ave.