Peripheral canal/tunnel plus Delta restoration price tag soars
February 29, 2012
• Could approach $25 Billion
• But who will pay?
• (WITH AUDIO)
A massive canal or tunnel to siphon water from the Sacramento River before it flows into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta could cost far more than earlier thought.
The price tag to implement initial recommendations of the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan is about $25 billion, with most of that to be spent on the so-called “conveyance” to increase water flows to the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California, it was revealed Wednesday in a news conference by the California Natural Resources Agency.
(Please click on the link below to listen to a recording of the news conference.)
“The overall total is around $25 billion,” says David Zippin, principal of ICF International, the firm hired to put together the plan. “Most of that is cost of the construction and operation of … the new water facility.”
Natural Resources Agency Secretary John Laird says the $25 billion figure would be if the largest water-siphoning project were to be built. If smaller, the price would be less, he says.
Earlier estimates had put the price tag at about $14 billion.
How much water rates might soar for Valley farmers and Angelinos was not given.
If built as envisioned by the state, the canal or tunnel could increase water to the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California by nearly 50 percent under optimum conditions.
But who will pay the cost?
“I think the general operating principal is that if there is a facility, the beneficiary pays,” Mr. Laird says. “And if there’s habitat there will be a mix of financing sources and there is a significant amount of the habitat restoration that is in the proposed water bond.”
California voters are being asked in November to approve an $11 billion water bond.
The Bay Delta Conservation Plan’s planning documents were released Wednesday. (Please see link below.)
The draft documents analyze movement of 5.9 million acre-feet of water a year on average and the creation of over 110,000 acres of fish and wildlife habitat, a more than three-fold increase over the current acreage.
The “movement of water” number is derived from various proposed operating criteria for a “conveyance” designed to protect Delta fisheries, the state claims.
“There is a great deal of scientific uncertainty about an estuary as ecologically complex as the Delta and the long-term effects of climate change on native fish species,” says Department of Fish and Game Director Charlton Bonham. “With these materials, we can now engage in a scientifically rigorous and transparent discussion over how best to protect and restore fish, wildlife, and the Delta’s ecosystem while ensuring water supply reliability.”
Mr. Laird claims that the state “has not made a decision and is not committed” to the project outlined in the drafts.
“But we believe the draft gives us (and the stakeholders) the information needed to define the basic elements of a proposed project in July, as previously announced by Governor Brown and Interior Secretary Salazar,” he says.