KPBS Televised Broadcast

TCDC supporter, Michael Bovee, produced the following video describing one aspect of TCDC’s response to the threat produced by Sahara mustard. This report was broadcast on KPBS television and radio on June 18, 2014.

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Sahara Mustard
Life Cycle Slideshow

Learn how to recognize invasive Sahara Mustard from seeds and tiny sprouts to large, mature plants.

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"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

— Margaret Mead


"Don't wait for the cavalry to come over the hill to save you. You are the cavalry and had better save yourselves."

— Robert Lee Paul

Glyph of Sun


Tubb Canyon Desert Conservancy

September 2020

Tubb Canyon in the crosshairs … again

Once again, the Tubb Canyon neighborhood is in the crosshairs of a major San Diego utility. This time it is the San Diego County Water Authority (CWA). During the last year the CWA has spent approximately $2 million to study the feasibility of building a Regional Conveyance System (RCS) that would transport water from the Colorado River to San Diego (Fig. 1). The Phase A report, published June 2020, recommended eliminating the alternative route near the Mexican border, the Southern Alignment (5C), and identified the Northern Alignment (3A) as the preferred route (Fig. 1). The preferred route would consist of 46 miles of canal, 39 miles of pipeline, and 46 miles of tunnel that would pass through and under the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (ABDSP) and the community of Borrego Springs. Cost estimates for this project are $5-6 Billion, and the construction, which would not begin before 2031, is estimated to take 15 years.

Large quantity of bagged Sahara Mustard

Figure 1

The preferred Northern Alignment (3A) route passes through the State Park, through the community of Borrego Springs, up Tubb Canyon Rd, to a “tunnel portal” in Tubb Canyon. From the Tubb Canyon Portal a tunnel 14 feet in diameter would travel 46 miles under the Pinyon Ridge Wilderness area to the CWA’s Twin Oak facility near Escondido. A massive pumping station would be constructed in the vicinity of Tubb and Glorietta Canyons (Figs. 2 and 3).

Large quantity of bagged Sahara Mustard

Figure 2

Large quantity of bagged Sahara Mustard

Figure 3

The Tubb Canyon Desert Conservancy (TCDC) opposes the proposed Northern Alignment (3A) route of the RCS for myriad reasons— both regional and local. Regionally, TCDC shares the concerns described in the Member Agency’s Managers Group report of July 2020—that the project is not cost competitive and that the CWA’s Phase A report employed highly implausible economic assumptions. Additional regional concerns about the RCS include: 1) environmental constraints create “fatal flaws” that will prevent this project from traversing the State Park just as they did the Sunrise Powerlink 2) the project provides no new water for San Diego, but simply creates a different pipe by which to obtain the water that already flows to San Diego, 3) the project will saddle the next three generations of San Diego ratepayers with exorbitant and unnecessary debt, 4) the proposed route would cross six active fault lines, 5) sending water over the proposed route would take 40% more energy than the conveyance system currently in use, 6) the increased energy use would increase San Diego’s greenhouse gas emissions, 7) the proposed route impinges upon the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, the Cleveland National Forest, the community of Borrego Springs, and 8) the proposed route potentially impacts groundwater resources near the San Pasqual Indian Reservation

On a local level, TCDC has concerns that are specific to the ABDSP, the community of Borrego Springs, and the Tubb Canyon region. Chief among these concerns is that the 1000 square miles that compose the Park and the Community are not industrial. They are predominantly state-designated wilderness area; and, as such, these 1000 square miles provide a valuable, irreplaceable, and irreproducible service to the citizens of San Diego County, Southern California, and neighboring states. Visitors have come, and will come again after the pandemic, from around the world to experience the vastness of the Park and its undisturbed vistas. The inevitable disruptions of a massive industrial project like the RCS to the uninterrupted majesty of pristine desert landscape would be antithetical to the identity of what we are as a community.

Because of its geographic location in the center of the ABDSP, Borrego Springs is surrounded on all sides by the State Park and is uniquely positioned to transition its economy to ecotourism, which it has been doing for the past five years under the rubric of the National Geographic-inspired Geotourism Program currently being implemented by the Borrego Village Association. The community of Borrego Springs knows it must reduce its water consumption by 75% by 2040, which means it can no longer depend on local agriculture and residential development as economic drivers. Thus, TCDC is concerned that an industrial project of the scale of the proposed RCS would be detrimental to the undisturbed wilderness that is the basis of Borrego’s ecotourism initiative and, therefore, detrimental to our critical economic pivot.

Finally, the Borrego community has worked diligently for nearly a decade to create a plan to address our overdrafted aquifer. Our Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) was the first in the state to be presented to the Department of Water Resources. We are in the final stages of a Stipulated Agreement that will implement our GSP through our newly created Watermaster Board. This is to say that we have a plan for achieving water sustainability for our community by 2040 without sacrificing the wilderness that surrounds us and is the draw for a tourism economy that will sustain us into the future. And Borrego will achieve water sustainability at least 5 years before the RCS could be completed. Thus, the proposed RCS would have no impact on the necessity to reduce our water consumption by 75% by 2040.

For all these reasons, TCDC will continue in its efforts to provide information to the Board of the San Diego County Water Authority demonstrating the folly of attempting to site this industrial scale utility project through the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and the community of Borrego Springs.

J. David Garmon, MD
President, TCDC


Archive of TCDC Updates