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BDCP Plus Defies Common Sense, Says Restore the Delta
by Dan Bacher
Wednesday Jun 20th, 2012 3:45 PM
"You’re ignoring the warnings of Interior Department scientists that 50-year permits could hasten the extinction of Central Valley salmon, Delta smelt, and other fish species," said Jane Wagner-Tyack, Restore the Delta research director.
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BDCP Plus Defies Common Sense, Says Restore the Delta

by Dan Bacher

A Restore the Delta (RTD) representative on June 20 told the California Natural Resources Agency that the Brown administration’s latest plan to construct a peripheral canal or tunnel without conducting a cost-benefit analysis and completing scientific studies, while continuing unsustainable water exports for the benefit of a few huge corporate agribusiness operations, “defies common sense.”

In spite of severe criticism of the plan by Delta advocates attending the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) public meeting in Sacramento, Jerry Meral, Deputy Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency, said the state and Department of Interior were "hoping to release" a conveyance plan by the end of July. Meral also said the draft EIR/EIS will be available "this fall."

Jane Wagner-Tyack, RTD research director, exposed the insanity of the Brown administration's fast-tracking of the canal or tunnel plan, in spite of the fact that peer-reviewed science and an independent cost-benefit analysis of the plan by the University of the Pacific demonstrates that construction of the conveyance tunnel makes no economic, financial or scientific sense.

“BDCP has a plan to start building conveyance and figure out how to operate it later to meet the coequal goals of ecosystem restoration and water supply reliability defies common sense,” she stated. “You’re going around peer-reviewed science with faulty modeling and incomplete analysis. You’re ignoring the warnings of Interior Department scientists that 50-year permits could hasten the extinction of Central Valley salmon, Delta smelt, and other fish species."

RTD said the administration has “repeatedly refused to consider reasonable alternatives that don’t involve massive infrastructure. The water demands that would be served by this conveyance are unrealistic and the flows exporters want are out of line with reliable supplies."

Wagner-Tyack noted, "The operation you propose will worsen water quality for fisheries and agriculture. It will devastate the economy of the Delta itself and northern fisheries that depend on adequate flows through the Delta. You’re on a fast-track path that will require suspension of environmental review statutes, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act and the California Water Code, as well as property rights.”

“We still have no public trust analysis for this plan, and supporters of the plan have strongly resisted a cost-benefit analysis," stated Wagner-Tyack. "But a report published last week by University of the Pacific’s Business Forecasting Center shows that for every $2.50 spent on this project, the state can expect to see $1 in benefits. And if costs are allocated on a per capita basis, Metropolitan Water District ratepayers will be responsible for 75% of the project costs, not the 25% that would be proportional to the amount of water they get."

“Two-thirds of exports from the Delta serve corporate irrigators on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, which accounts for less than half a percent of California’s economy and population. Less than a third of the water goes to urban areas that make up half of the state’s population and economy. No wonder you don’t want a cost-benefit analysis,” concluded Wagner-Tyack.

The BDCP public meeting included an update on the BDCP planning process, proposed changes to conveyance facilities, and an update on the economic analysis being prepared by Dr. David Sunding.

Dick Pool, President of the Water for Fish and Secretary of the Golden Gate Salmon Association, slammed the "economic analysis" prepared by Sunding.

"If you funded this study, you should be ashamed to accept only one side of the equation," said Pool. "You need to get some economists and consultants to do a complete analysis."

The first comprehensive economic benefit-cost analysis of the water conveyance tunnels at the center of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), released on June 14 by the University of Pacific’s Eberhardt School of Business, Business Forecasting Center, reveals that peripheral canal doesn’t make any economic or financial sense.

The UOP report states, “We find the tunnel is not economically justified, because the costs of the tunnel are 2.5 times larger than its benefits. Benefit-cost analysis is an essential and normal part of assessment and planning of large infrastructure projects such as the $13 billion water conveyance tunnel proposal, but has not been part of the BDCP.”

For the complete report, go to: http://forecast.pacific.edu/articles/BenefitCostDeltaTunnel_Web.pdf

Restore the Delta last week released a powerfully-worded letter from 38 environmental, fishing, consumer, Native American and other groups alerting U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar of the enormous environmental and economic perils posed by the Obama administration’s support of the peripheral canal.

Action Alert:

By the end of July, Governor Brown will announce a plan to proceed with building tunnel conveyance under the Delta - the current version of the Peripheral Canal that voters defeated with a referendum in 1982.

Restore the Delta is asking its supporters to write a letter to the Governor urging him not to proceed with this announcement until planners have completed the following analyses: cost-benefit, water quality, water availability, and a balancing of the public trust.

Please find below a sample letter that you can personalize. "This is the development we have all been hoping could be avoided. It can't. We need all our supporters to send letters as soon as possible," according to RTD staff.

Governor Jerry Brown
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Governor Brown:

A great deal of speculation is now focused on your proposed announcement of a plan to build tunnel conveyance under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta - the current equivalent of the Peripheral Canal that voters defeated by referendum during your previous term as Governor. Issues that made the Peripheral Canal a bad idea 1982 have not been resolved.

This project should not proceed unsupported by the four following pillars:

A thorough cost-benefit analysis that looks at the full social economic benefits of the uses of Delta water (not just a financial analysis of how the project might be paid for);

A water quality analysis looking not just at export uses but what would happen to water quality with completion and operation of new conveyance;

A water availability analysis considering historic over-allocations of the watershed known for the last seventy years, and supply variations that might be expected with climate change;

A balancing of public trust uses of water.

These much needed analyses are not being adequately pursued by either the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) or the Delta Plan being prepared by the Delta Stewardship Council.

I urge you to resist pressure to proceed with an announcement of any construction plan until these issues have been addressed.

Sincerely yours,

Signed Name

For more information, go to: http://www.restorethedelta.org.