Newspeak 2013

In every “pro-tunnel” newspaper article I’ve been reading lately, many of the now familiar false statements are quoted and re-quoted. I’ve heard them so often, it’s starting to sound like Newspeak from Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four“.

The purpose of Newspeak was, of course, to control thought – especially any thoughts against the state.


What Newspeak do we hear from the BDCP proponents? As you read press articles with quotes from the governor or his representatives, Department of Water Resources (DWR), water contractors or their mouth-pieces (e.g., the California Farm Water Coalition), count how many of these statements you hear. You can also see them on the BDCP Website.

  • Newspeak 1: “No new water would be taken from the Delta should the tunnels be constructed”.

    Actual: Fresh water will bypass the Delta estuary before it can flow through to be used for fish, farms, communities and recreation; leaving salty polluted water instead.

    This Newspeak was heard most recently from John Laird just last week at a meeting in Yuba City.

    Why is it Newspeak? If you build massive tunnels above the Delta to divert water around the Delta, that’s “taking water from the Delta”.

  • Newspeak 2: The tunnels will result in similar level of water deliveries as currently ‘permitted’.

    Actual: They plan to export more water than they can now. And the current level of exports is killing the estuary.

    First, when they say a “similar level of water deliveries as currently permitted.”, how do you pronounce “permitted”? Is it “per-mit‘-ted” meaning that they will be controlled by environmental and other laws to the amount they are allowed to take? Or “per‘-mit-ted” meaning the amount their permits or contracts allow. Because the latter means they can take all of the water in the Sacramento because their paper water contracts are for more water than exists. See Paper Water.

  • Newspeak 3: “Water is literally going down the drain.”

    Actual: Water flowing through the estuary gives life to salmon and birds, irrigation for Delta farmers, drinking water for Delta communities, clean fresh water for recreational enjoyment and continues on to keep the San Francisco Bay fresh and healthy.

    Water flowing through the Delta is NOT going “down the drain. This Newspeak was most recently found in Yuba City congressional candidate Dan Logue’s campaign pamphlet as “The Problem.” We’ve heard it from Jason Peltier, the Westlands Water representative, at BDCP Meetings. There seems to be an odd view that water should not flow through the estuary. Should we turn all of nature into concrete pipes? Is that the only way to not be wasteful?

  • Newspeak 4: “The BDCP is needed to supply water to 40 million urban users.”

    Actual: The BDCP creates no new water for urban users. But the urban users will pay for it.

    During all of 2013, the two LA reservoirs, Pyramid and Castaic were at over 100 percent of average and about 90 percent capacity. No risk there. In addition, while San Luis (used by Silicon Valley urban users) fell so low that algae formed, the Kern Water Bank was at 88 percent with plenty of water to supply the Silicon Valley users who have priority water rights. Of course, throughout the state, (a) increased conservation and (b) local water sources (recycling, desalination) are highly recommended and needed long-term. The BDCP does nothing for the urban users.

  • Newspeak 5: The tunnels can’t drain the Sacramento River.

    Actual: The tunnels DO have the capacity to drain the Sacramento. And between the expansion possible for farming in the desert plus fracking needs, the Central Valley special interests’ need is unbounded.

    From the BDCP “Questions and Answers” website: “Operation of the BDCP water delivery system could not drain the Delta rivers and channels dry. The BDCP only would be permitted to operate with regulatory protections, including river water levels and flow, which would be determined based upon how much water is actually available in the system, the presence of threatened fish species, and water quality standards.

    However, that is true today and we are continually finding out that the operations aren’t protecting the fish species (see recent “Feds may have harmed Salmon River Salmon” article (again). It took a court battle this summer to have water released from the Trinity to protect salmon, and then it was only a portion of the recommended amount. The State Water Resources Control Board is continually pressured to reduce their standards for salinity and flow in the South Delta, impacting farmers and the state keeps managing reservoir flow to aid the Central Valley farmers, not the Northern communities, the Delta farmers nor the environment.

    If the tunnels have the capacity to drain the Sacramento River (which two 40-foot tunnels have), the risk is huge that eventually they will drain the river.

  • Newspeak 6: The BDCP is needed to protect the state’s water supply from risk of earthquakes and the aging levee system.

    Actual: There is no real risk of earthquakes in the Delta and no valid concern about massive levees failures.
    The “earthquake bogey” is a made-up concern. See the facts in Dr. Pyke’s comment letter. He also reports that the levees are in good shape.

    The real earthquake risk to the state’s water supply is in the South: The risks to the Aqueduct (which crosses the San Andreas fault), the San Luis Reservoir (which has fissures), and the Central Valley’s Success Lake Reservoir (which is currently only 10% full due to seismic concerns). Besides earthquakes in the Central Valley, other significant risks are from sinkholes showing up due to groundwater depletion in the Central Valley.

  • Newspeak 7: The BDCP will benefit 57 species.

    Actual: It will NOT benefit 57 species and furthermore, there are many species it ignores.

    This Newspeak really irks me.

    • First, the misnomer of calling a Tunnel Plan a “Conservation Plan”.
    • Second, the claim that there is anything in the BDCP that can help the Delta species when the freshwater is removed and taken around the Delta instead of flowing through it. All of the “habitat projects” listed in the plan are speculative, unproven, and based on faulty science.
      Great Blue Heron
        • Third the fact that some of our favorite threatened species are left out: The great blue heron, snowy white egret, lesser sandhill crane. Even the fate of our local ducks and geese are not protected by the plan.

      The primary purpose of the BDCP and Delta Tunnels is to supply more water for continued expansion of almond acreage in the Central Valley to send to Asia, for water-thirsty cotton, fracking and for big L.A. developers to expand housing developments in the LA desert. I.e., for profits, profits, profits.

      Everything else is Newspeak.

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