Even BDCP-hired economist wouldn’t sign off on Brown’s tunnel plan

Written By: Dan Bacher, June 20, 2014

Even BDCP-hired economist wouldn’t sign off on Brown’s tunnel plan

In the latest episode in the sordid saga of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan "BDCP" to build the peripheral tunnels, two environmental groups revealed on June 20 that even an economist hired by BDCP officials won't sign off on the controversial project. 

Dr. David Sunding, an economist on the faculty of the University of California-Berkeley and a principal with The Brattle Group, said at the recent Continuing Legal Education Water Law Conference in San Diego that "given the financial uncertainties if he were a water agency, he would not sign off" on the BDCP, according to a news release from Restore the Delta (RTD). (http://us3.campaign-archive2.com/?u=06887fa70084fef8e939fef63&id=b6d32e645b&e=120d0c2b69)  

RTD and the Southern California Watershed Alliance contested the Brown Administration’s latest claims of alleged "benefits" from the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build two giant water export tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. 

“The recently released statements and documents from BDCP on the costs, and who will pay, are more of the same disingenuous statements that they have been making throughout the life of the project," said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta (RTD). "These unsubstantiated claims show how desperate BDCP officials are to greenwash this project for the public. Documents from public record requests, and statements from their own officials and water agency officials, reveal that the project will be closer to $67 billion in today’s dollars, before cost over-runs.” 

Independent University of the Pacific economist Dr. Jeff Michael concludes that the average water ratepayer will end up paying between $40 and $80 per person per year. 

“Los Angeles will not receive an additional drop of water, as 2/3 of the water taken from the Delta goes to mega-growers in the Westlands and Kern County Water Districts,” said Barrigan-Parrilla. 

“Work by the Pacific Institute’s Dr. Peter Gleick shows the millions of acre feet of water can be made through conservation, recycling, and storm water capture,” said Conner Everts, executive director of the So. California Watershed Alliance. “The truth is that the Metropolitan Water District cannot make money except through reselling water, and thus is the strongest proponent of the BDCP. They will continue to find reasons why conservation measures won’t work, and to delay aggressive development of local water projects. 

"Dr. David Sunding of the Brattle Group said at the recent Continuing Legal Education Water Law Conference in San Diego that ‘given the financial uncertainties, if he were a water agency, he would not sign off’ on the BDCP. Neither should we," said Everts. 

In other BDCP news, Jerry Cadagan, water activist, pointed out that the most recent BDCP newsletter starts off with a canard in the very first sentence ("…. improving how water moves through the" Delta). (http://baydeltaconservationplan.com/Libraries/Dynamic_Document_Library/BCDP_ENewsletter_6_18_2014_FINAL.sflb.ashx

"Isn't one of the fundamental criticisms that BDCP precludes necessary water from moving through the Delta? According to my Funk & Wagnalls, 'through' and 'under' have distinctly different meanings," Cadagan said. 

The BDCP staff responded to Restore the Delta's news release by claiming, "Opponents of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) grossly misquoted BDCP consultant Dr. David Sunding." Ironically, in their effort to "set the record straight," the BDCP staff repeats their prior canard that that BDCP is about "improving how water moves through" the Delta, when in fact the purpose of the twin tunnels is to move Sacramento River water under the Delta, not through the estuary! (http://baydeltaconservationplan.com/news/news/14-06-20/Setting_the_Record_Straight_on_Sunding_Quotes.aspx

It is seems that Bay Delta Conservation officials can't get anything "straight." There is no doubt that Governor Jerry Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan has no basis in logic, science or fiscal realities. It is nothing other than a "legacy" project for Governor Brown to build as a giant monument to his ego.  

While the BDCP won't create one single new drop of water, the tunnels will take water from Northern California farms, fish and people and give it to corporate agribusiness interests irrigating drainage-impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, Southern California water agencies and oil companies conducting fracking and steam injection operations in Kern County. The peripheral tunnels under the Delta will hasten the extinction of Central Valley Chinook salmon and steelhead, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, as well as pose an enormous threat to salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers. 

Caleen Audrey Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, urged people to "please take a minute and add your response to STOP the Brown Water Plans" by going to the Food and Water Watch website: https://secure3.convio.net/fww/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=1283&s_src=taf_addthis&s_subsrc=gen0#.U6cVY1fyStE.facebook

"California should be a salmon state….a state that feeds the world with healthy wild salmon and not water draining MegaAg Monsanto crops that are not healthy," said Sisk. 

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