SACRAMENTO – A panel of experts today presented the case against building Peripheral Tunnels to export Sacramento/San Joaquin/San Francisco Bay Delta water mainly to benefit unsustainable mega-farms on the west side of the Central Valley. Dr. Jeffrey Michael, director of the Eberhardt Business Forecasting Center at the University of the Pacific, told news media representatives that his benefit cost analysis, the only one conducted to date, found that the project the governor is expected to announce next week would cost $2.50 in cost for every $1 in benefits, a total of $7 billion in cost above benefits.
Jonas Minton of the Planning and Conservation League analyzed a draft of the proposed project that was circulated yesterday by the administration. Mr. Minton said, “The administration’s proposal fails to incorporate what’s now the overwhelming scientific consensus that fish in the Estuary need more fresh water. The proposal includes virtually nothing about the need for adequate freshwater inflows and outflows. Even though the number of intakes has been reduced from 5 to 3, the total amount of water that can be pumped from the Delta is virtually the same. In this proposal, water exporters have key control over hiring, budget, science program, and even a veto power over improvements to biological goals and objectives. Decisions on how much water would be pumped would be made only after tens of billions of dollars are spent on the intakes and tunnels. Pressure would be unstoppable to over-pump the Delta. There is no funding for the habitat restoration. There is no cost-benefit analysis for this project that would cost taxpayers and water customers in the tens of billions of dollars.”
Bill Jennings, executive director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, said, “BDCP is a recipe for ecological disaster. California is in a water crisis because the State has over-promised, over-allocated, wasted and inequitably distributed scarce water resources. The Delta is in a biological meltdown because the estuary has been deprived of more than half of its historical water flow; its hydrograph has been turned on its head and its waterways used as sewers. This project threatens the collapse of Delta and longfin smelt; American and threadfin shad; split tail; Fall, late-Fall, Winter and Spring runs of salmon; steelhead, green and white sturgeon, striped and large mouth bass; as well the lower tropic levels that comprise the food chain. BDCP is predicated on taking more water from or around the estuary. And taking more water from it cannot restore an ecosystem that is hemorrhaging because of a lack of flow. The National Research Council, the Independent Science Board, NGO scientists and the fishery agencies agree that the project would hasten extinction rather than restoring species. Faced with overwhelming criticism, BDCP went back to the drawing boards and came forth with the desperate idea of building it now and figuring out how to operate it later. As presently outlined, BDCP is not a path to restoration – it’s a death sentence for one of the world’s great estuaries.”
Kristin Lynch, Pacific Region Director for Food & Water Watch, said, “Resource that should be kept under public control for the public good. This project would cost tens of billions of dollars to give ever-increasing amounts of taxpayer and ratepayer subsidized water to corporate agriculture and real estate developers to make millions in profits. It is the ultimate fleecing of ratepayers and taxpayers. This is not the only way to secure reliable water for southern California. There are many 21st century alternative means by which we can ensure reliable drinking water that are cost effective, create local jobs, are environmentally sound and would permanently reduce the need for water to be imported and would not cost LA rate payers alone between $2.5 – 16 billion in rate increases.”
“The governor and Obama administration will announce the largest public works project in our history,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta. “Why the rush to build a project that would exterminate salmon runs, destroy sustainable family farms and saddle taxpayers with tens of billions in debt, mainly to benefit a small number of huge corporate agribusinesses on the west side of the Central Valley?”
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla 209/479-2053 firstname.lastname@example.org; @RestoretheDelta