Opponents Continue Fight Against Delta Tunnel Project

STOCKTON -- Opponents of the Delta Tunnels Project weren't showing any signs Monday of letting up, despite that project clearing a major hurdle with a favorable report from federal fish and wildlife experts. It's momentum for the project.

"Yes. But not unexpected. And not as great for the other side as they're telling everyone it is," said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla.

Barrigan-Parrilla is part of the vocal opposition to the project, a project that would install two tunnels, 40 feet wide, carrying Sacramento River water 35 miles south. It still has a long approval process ahead of it, even before ground could be broken on the $16 billion project.

"I don't think the likelihood changes because nobody has come up with the money," Barrigan-Parrilla said.

But federal fish and wildlife experts have reversed an earlier stance that the project would threaten species who call these waters home -- species like salmon, and Delta smelt.

The takeaway from their 547-page report is summed up in a letter from Regional Director Paul Souza, who says the project now is not likely to jeopardize those species or harm their habitat.

That finding in part comes from the addition of 1,800 acres of addition habitat for those species that have been built into the project.

"Somehow 1,800 aces of additional habitat would save Delta Smelt. That is simply not true," Barrigan-Parrilla said.

Barrigan-Parrilla and her group Restore the Delta vowed to fight the project both in court of public opinion, and eventually a court of law.