C-WIN’s Executive Director Carolee Krieger responded, “Governor Brown is not giving the full cost of the Peripheral Tunnels when he says it will cost $14 billion. The cost will easily exceed $60 billion by the time financing, cost overruns, mitigation, operations and maintenance are counted. Californians will spend billions for tunnels with not a drop more of water delivered to our cities and no benefits to the environment.”
Photo of the Sacramento River at Hamilton City by Dan Bacher. Governor Jerry Brown wants to divert Sacramento River flows into the peripheral tunnels to send more water south to corporate agribusiness on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California water agencies.
Cost of peripheral tunnels will exceed $60 billion
by Dan Bacher
The California Water Impact Network (C-WIN), an organization working to promote the equitable and environmentally sensitive use of California’s water, criticized Governor Jerry Brown’s call in his State of the State address for two massive tunnels under the Delta to send Northern California water south – and revealed that the true cost of the tunnels will exceed $60 billion.
“My proposed plan is two tunnels 30 miles long and 40 feet wide, designed to improve the ecology of the Delta, with almost 100 square miles of habitat restoration,” claimed Brown. “Yes, that is big but so is the problem.”
“The London Olympics lasted a short while and cost $14 billion, about the same cost as this project,” Brown stated.
Carolee Krieger, Executive Director of C-WIN (http://www.c-win.org), responded, “Governor Brown is not giving the full cost of the Peripheral Tunnels when he says it will cost $14 billion. The cost will easily exceed $60 billion by the time financing, cost overruns, mitigation, operations and maintenance are counted. Californians will spend billions for tunnels with not a drop more of water delivered to our cities and no benefits to the environment.”
“Santa Barbara is the poster child for underestimating water project costs- ratepayers were told in 1991 it would cost $270 million to get Delta water but spent $1.76 billion,” Krieger disclosed. “That averages to over $18,000 for each of Santa Barbara County’s 95,000 customers.”
Krieger emphasized, “The Governor is no longer saying that the beneficiaries will pay for the project and we can expect that he’ll ask the state General Fund/taxpayers to foot more of the cost. That will be money that would otherwise go to public safety, education, health care and paying off past debt. California already has 6% of its budget going to pay off debt. We don’t need more public debt for outdated water solutions.”
Jim Edmondson, a southern California C-WIN board member, said there are “better and cheaper” solutions for protecting and enhancing water supplies like strengthening Delta levees for $4 billion, recycling, conservation and stormwater capture.
“Southern California ratepayers and taxpayers will pay the costs of the twin tunnels, but may not receive a drop more water,” said Edmondson. “They will be paying more every month to increase water deliveries for subsidized corporate agribusiness in portions of the San Joaquin Valley.”
Edmondson concluded that “Several other lower costs alternatives exist that are not being given full consideration by the Governor and his water barons. Governor Brown’s arguments that he is fiscally prudent are suspect. A recent benefit/cost analysis for the Peripheral Tunnels concluded that Californians will spend $2.50 for only $1 of benefits.”
A groundbreaking economic analysis released on August 7 by Food & Water Watch and C-WIN reveals that Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) customers could be on the line for $2,003 to $9,182 per customer to pay for the 37-mile Peripheral Tunnels project announced by Governor Jerry Brown on July 25. To download the report, go to:http://documents.foodandwaterwatch.org/doc/BayDeltaConveyanceLAEconAnalysis.pdf
The construction of the peripheral tunnels would likely lead to the extinction of Central Valley salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt and other species, according to agency and independent scientists. For details on the threat to listed species posed by the BDCP, read the briefing paper by the Bay Institute and Defenders of Wildlife at:http://www.bay.org/assets/BDCP%20EA%20Briefing%20Paper%2022912.pdf