Against the background of intense drought, California is contemplating a $15 billion project to move water south from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The plan involves two, 30-mile tunnels -- the Delta Tunnels.
"The State is not looking to seize 300 farms in the Delta. Not at all," said Nancy Vogel, deputy secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency.
Vogel is reacting to a release of plans by opponents of the project, plans listing the properties the state would either have to buy or compel owners to sell through eminent domain. It's mostly farmland along the I-5 corridor.
But Vogel says those plans are years old, that the project has changed so that the actual number of properties the state would need is 122, and it would need only part of those.
When asked whether the parcel numbers and address of those properties would be release, Vogel responded with:
"Oh no. Not at all ... This is all planning. We don't know exactly which parcels. The project could change."
"I think it's a heck of a lot of money. Those tunnels, if you could see them -- they're huge. They're just huge," said farmer Lorraine Croup.
Croup knows a little something about water in California. She says her great-grandfather was traveling down the Sacramento River in 1850 when he staked his claim to the family's farm at Stone Lakes.
Now the state has proposed putting an intake for the tunnel project under that same farmland.
"I object to the planting on the westside of I-5 down around Tracy and Bakersfield. On the west side. There's just no water there. And they planted crops, and now they want the water from up here," she said.
As often as the tunnel designers have insisted this project is about conservation and moving water more smartly -- that no more would necessarily be moved out of the Delta because of it, many who would have the tunnels moving through their farms just aren't buying it.