Friday, November 28, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Questions on water tunnel analysis remain

elias column sig

By
From page A11 | August 28, 2013 |

Backers of the water tunnels at the heart of the proposed $25 billion plan for updating and replumbing the Delta of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers thought they had played a trump card when they presented a 244-page economic impact report.

The analysis authored by UC Berkeley economist David Sunding puts the state’s profits from building the tunnels at $84 billion over the first 50 years after the project is completed (http://ht.ly/nEobp). Long before it’s finished, the project would be a jobs bonanza, Sunding asserted, producing 177,000 jobs over 10 years of construction.

Yet … there was confirmation, too, that this expensive plan would not produce much more water than comes through the Delta today, somewhere between 4.7 million and 5.2 million acre feet of water yearly. The difference, said Sunding and his sponsor, California Natural Resources Secretary John Laird, is that the flow would be steady – everyone involved knowing from year to year how much water to expect.

Listening to them and Alan Zaremberg, California Chamber of Commerce president, hype the project via press conference and conference call, it was clear they hadn’t thought much about the great Peripheral Canal battle of the early 1980s.

“We didn’t write this report at all with a perspective on the 1980s,” Sunding said.

Maybe he and his co-authors should have. Adding to their analysis a few considerations inspired by that fight might give the new plan, dubbed “peripheral tunnels” by some, a better chance.

The Peripheral Canal, pushed then as now by Gov. Jerry Brown, became the ultimate regional issue in California, and there is a paucity of regional analysis in the new economic study.

The canal was to have taken Sacramento River water around the Delta via a concrete ditch looking similar to the state Water Project’s current aqueduct, much of which is easily visible from the Interstate 5 freeway in the San Joaquin Valley.

Many in Northern California feared it could not be filled without water from wild rivers like the Eel, the Trinity and the Klamath. So after Brown and the Legislature approved the canal, a ballot referendum killed the project. The anti-canal vote was near unanimous in the San Francisco Bay Area and other parts of Northern California. In Southern California, the canal got 65 percent backing.

That stark regional division might play out again over the tunnels, despite laws passed in the interim to protect wild rivers.

That’s why any useful tunnels analysis must indicate which areas benefit and how much. When the economic analysis says the project would produce 117,000 jobs, would almost all involve construction work between the tunnel intake near Sacramento and the big pumps near Tracy that move water south? How many white-collar engineering jobs would the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas get?

The same with benefits from the steadier water supply the project is supposed to ensure. Statewide, the economic analysis valued increased water supply reliability, better water quality and reduced flooding and earthquake risk at $18 billion over the 50-year life of the project, compared with a cost of $13 billion (before interest). That’s a net benefit of almost $5 billion.

But there’s no clue who will profit or how much. Will it be Central Valley farmers, fishermen, operators of recreational facilities in the Delta or urban water users? Or all of them?

Similarly, while the analysis notes that water users will pay back the project bonds (with interest bringing total costs to $25 billion), there is no clue about which users will pay most. Farmers would get the lion’s share of the water, as they do today. But would they bear most of the costs, passing those along to buyers of almonds, cotton, citrus and other crops?

Or would most costs fall to residential and industrial water customers in Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area, even if they get only a minority share of the water?

Said Sunding, “The costs and benefits for each water agency (and its customers) are not yet determined.”

That means the latest economic analysis is simply not very useful, despite its high profile and page count. Which leaves the jury still out on the entire tunnels plan.

Thomas Elias is a California author. Reach him at tdelias@aol.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

 
Solano Turkey Trot draws 2,600 to college

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
 
Il Fiorello schedules olive milling day

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Movies just another course on Thanksgiving

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Early Black Friday shoppers take advantage of deals

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Solano College student body to mark World AIDS Day

By Maureen Fissolo | From Page: A3

 
Eagle Scout project adds floating docks at Rockville Park

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
.

US / World

‘Guardian angel,’ community join to give man home

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
US celebrates Thanksgiving with parades, turkey

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Tons of marijuana seized in Central California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 4 Comments

 
Gorilla death prompts San Francisco Zoo changes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

Health agents still unpaid after plan’s rollout

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
California Burger King employee finds $100,000

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

Researchers discover ‘pre-cancers’ in blood

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
At 1 month, US Ebola monitors finding no cases

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Families asked to host visitors for pope’s US trip

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
35 arrested in Oakland after protest march

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

A glance at Ferguson: Then, now and the future

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

 
For some, location of Brown’s hands irrelevant

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 2 Comments

Ferguson gives thanks after a quiet night

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Colorado mastodon bones show ancient warmer Earth

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

Queen of crime writing PD James dies aged 94

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Ebola aid dogged by coordination lags in Guinea

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Taliban attack rocks upscale Kabul district

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Small quake rattles California wine country

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

.

Living

Today in History: Nov. 28, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Nov. 28, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Poor health is no excuse for not behaving like a caring person

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

 
Horoscope for Nov. 28, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

Week in preview: Nov. 28 to Dec. 4, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Singer John Mayer among ‘Late Late Show’ subs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Review: ‘Horrible Bosses 2′ doesn’t work

By Jake Coyle | From Page: B2

 
Review: ‘Madagascar’ spin-off hatches family fun

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Prison theater transforms Colombian inmates

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Talking songs with She & Him

By Kim Durbin | From Page: B3

 
Reading Harry Potter gives clues to brain activity

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Entertainment calendar Nov. 28, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B4

 
Cosby testimony describes accuser’s spiked story

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

.

Sports

College notebook: Many happy returns for Arizona’s Bondurant

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Sherman’s big night leads Seattle past 49ers again

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7, 1 Comment | Gallery

Rookie quarterback Carr is Raiders’ silver lining

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
US cities urged to keep price tags down for 2024

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Eagles roll over Cowboys 33-10 for NFC East lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
5 investigated in FIFA WCup bid corruption probe

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Johnson shines in Detroit’s 34-17 win over Chicago

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
No. 9 UCLA must overcome Stanford for Pac-12 title

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

Signups for Friday, Nov. 28, 2014

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B10

 
.

Business

Kia’s ‘Soulful’ first electric car

By Ann M. Job | From Page: C1

 
Automakers aim to drive away car computer hackers

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

Google’s latest: A spoon that steadies tremors

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
3 Reasons holiday shoppers will spend cautiously

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

OPEC keeps oil output on hold despite low prices

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
.

Obituaries

Deanna L. Haines

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Esther Ringler

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9