State’s survey of other tunnel projects scrutinized

As the Delta tunnels hearings resumed in Sacramento this week, an engineering expert for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California testified that many other large tunnels have been drilled “without incurring risk or injury to project stakeholders.”

A list of other tunnels projects surveyed by Delta tunnels officials

But in their “detailed” survey of these projects spread across two continents, Delta tunnels proponents did not actually talk to nearby landowners, who would presumably be considered “stakeholders.”

Instead, officials relied on their meetings with project designers and owners, construction managers, and on written reports available on the Internet.

“In none of those discussions did any issues related to injury to users or other anomalies come up,” testified MWD’s John Bednarski, referring specifically to the Lee Tunnel, a 4-mile drain intended to divert London’s stormwater to a treatment plant.

Testimony of John Bednarski

Stockton attorney Thomas Keeling, representing San Joaquin County in the ongoing hearings, pressed Bednarski on his written testimony that none of the nine projects he referenced caused any harm.

“You made no independent effort to interview local businesses?” Keeling asked, this time referencing the Eastside Access Tunnel in New York.

“No, we did not undertake that,” Bednarski said.

“You made no independent effort to speak to local residents or farmers?” Keeling asked.

“No, we did not do that either,” Bednarski said.

Testimony of John Bednarski

The question of whether other “stakeholders” (ugh, I hate that word) may be harmed is central to the Delta tunnels case. In the hearing underway now, the state must prove that other legal users of water won’t be “injured” by the $15 billion project.

Keeling objected that the names of the experts that Bednarski and other Delta tunnels officials consulted with on these other projects were not included in his testimony. DWR attorneys said that information could be provided.

I can’t just sit around and watch this whole thing as the weeks and months pass. But I’ll try to catch bits and pieces of it. And when something interesting comes up, I’ll post it here. Tips and suggestions welcome.

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