[env-trinity] Trinity Journal: Report touts governor’s dual tunnel plan; opponents say assumptions all wrong

Tom Stokely tstokely at att.net
Wed Aug 7 07:55:42 PDT 2013

Report touts governor’s dual tunnel plan; opponents say assumptions all wrong

Phil Nelson | The Trinity Journal
The Trinity River
From left, Lauren Aubrey of Hoopa, Garth Savage of Junction City and Ron Smith of Junction City head out to the trap at the Junction City weir Friday to tag salmon. The Trinity River will likely be impacted under the proposed tunnel plan.
Posted: Wednesday, August 7, 2013 6:15 am
Amy Gittelsohn l The Trinity Journal | 0 comments
An economic analysis of Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to build two huge tunnels to get Northern California water past the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta shows benefits of about $5 billion to California residents, but opponents of the plan say the report is deceptive.
Water from the north — including Trinity River water — is now pumped through the inland estuary known as the Delta to get it to farms and cities in the south. The pumps can grind up fish and displace them by causing the San Joaquin River to flow backward. As a result, there are restrictions on that pumping.
In addition to alleviating that problem, the tunnels are also billed as a way to prevent interruption of water deliveries in the event of a levee failure in the Delta.
The draft Statewide Economic Report of Costs, Benefits of Bay Delta Conservation Plan indicates a net benefit to California residents of $4.8 billion to $5.4 billion.
According to a news release from the California Natural Resources Agency, key findings of the analysis include the following benefits over the 50-year duration of the plan:
► Creation of 177,000 construction and habitat restoration related jobs in the Delta, resulting in $11 billion in additional employee compensation;
► Avoidance of water shortages that could cost over 1 million jobs in counties that depend upon Delta water;
► A net increase in statewide economic activity of $84 billion over 50 years, even after factoring in the effects of paying for the BDCP;
► Increased hiking, birding, boating and other recreation in the Delta;
► Reduced emissions of greenhouse gases.
The plan is estimated to cost about $24 billion, including $14 billion for construction of the tunnels to be paid for by water users and $10 billion for habitat restoration in the Delta to come from taxpayers. A water bond to pay for some of the restoration is to be put before voters.
The economic study concludes that implementation of the conservation plan is a worthy investment for the water districts in the Santa Clara Valley, Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley, and Southern California that would pay 68 percent of the costs. It finds both positive and negative impacts in the Delta, but far larger statewide benefits from implementing the plan.
The California Water Impact Network, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance and AquAlliance have issued a press release blasting the economic study by University of California at Berkeley professor David Sunding and the Brattle Group as a “limited and misleading analysis.”
The report funded by the state Department of Water Resources assumes the BDCP will increase water exports by approximately 1.3 million acre-feet, while the Brown administration and BDCP environmental documents acknowledge exports will remain at present levels even if the project goes forward, the news release states.
“It makes wildly optimistic assumptions of the benefits of habitat restoration projects that fishery agency scientists observe are of unknown or unproven value,” the news release states.
“The report also ignores the waste and inequitable use of California’s oversubscribed water resources, overstates the seismic risk to existing water delivery infrastructure and bases its conclusions on inflated population growth and water usage projections.”
C-WIN, CSPA and AquAlliance also say the report does not identify alternatives to the BDCP that could ameliorate California’s water crisis at a fraction of the cost of the twin tunnels.
“Water conservation, reclamation and recycling could create millions of acre-feet of ‘new’ water, improve water security, provide more jobs than the BDCP and restore the Delta,” said Bill Jennings, executive director of CSPA. “These alternatives would receive equal weight in any true analysis and any intellectually honest economic analysis would show that the costs of BDCP vastly outweigh any economic benefit to both project proponents and statewide interests.”
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