By Peter Gleick, Pacific Institute President
November 6, 2013
This blog post originally was posted on The Sacramento Bee on November 6, 2013.
I and my colleagues at the Pacific Institute have worked on California water issues for more than a quarter of a century. It is therefore no surprise that we get asked on a regular basis by friends, journalists and colleagues what we think about the efforts underway to resolve the problems of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and in particular, about the proposed massive tunnel project to divert water from the Sacramento River to the conveyance aqueducts south of the Delta.
The purpose of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan proposals, ostensibly, is to resolve the joint problems of 1. ensuring reliable water suppliessouth of the Delta, and 2. restoring the damaged ecosystems and fisheries damaged by the current design and operation of water infrastructure. These are supposed to be “co-equal” goals. Will the new proposals achieve this? I don’t know what to think, because I cannot get the critical information necessary to make an informed judgment. Here are some questions that should have been answered long ago:
“How much water will this new system take out of the Delta?”
Uh, we don’t know.
Why? Because: “Future scientific studies will identify project yield.” This fact alone should set off alarm bells. The project documents, to the extent you can get detailed information out of them, suggest anywhere from 4.8 million to 5.8 million acre-feet a year would be exported for the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project, not including the additional 1.7 million acre-feet or so that comes out of the Delta for Northern California users, and not including water taken out even before it reaches the Delta.
The upper end of this range is what Southern California water contractors think they’ll get and is one of the reasons they’re so anxious for the full-size version of the project to proceed. But that upper range is even more water than recent exports from the Delta, which averaged 5.4 million acre-feet a year from 1995 to 2011. Yet most scientists agree that a key to fixing the ecological problems of the Delta is to take less water out, not more.
“What will this infrastructure, or the water it provides, cost?”
We don’t know.
Continue reading here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/11/06/5884413/viewpoints-why-im-still-confused.html