On Feb 13, California WaterFix staff released a cost-benefit analysis of the new phased-in tunnels project. However, the analysis is incomplete, as it only examines the initial phased-in tunnel and states that analysis for the second tunnel would need to be completed in the future.
Restore the Delta will release additional responses to the document in the days ahead. However, two areas of concern can be found from a simple perusal.
Numerous questions about the validity of the CalSimsII modeling used to determine needed flows through the Delta, storage of water behind dams, and water exports through the tunnels have been raised by protestants at the State Water Resources Control Board, yet it is the modeling system used for this cost-benefit analysis. Independent modeling experts question the validity of the assumptions used by the modeling system, including reservoir operations that lead to deadpool conditions and inadequate Delta flows.
Deirdre Des Jardins of California Water Research has studied CA WaterFix modeling extensively through the permit hearings for WaterFix at the State Water Resources Control Board. She notes, “The modeling used for the project contains assumptions about future regulatory requirements. These assumptions are currently being determined by the State Water Resources Control Board. DWR also needs to revisit their assumption that it is not necessary to analyze the project yield under drier climate change scenarios, especially as drought conditions have returned once again to California.”
Executive Director for Restore the Delta Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla stated,
“This is just another chapter of the California Natural Resources Agency and the California Department of Water Resources presenting incomplete facts to push this ill-conceived project onto Californians. We have known for some time that deep problems exist within the modeling which create a fictional scenario of how much water is available for the Delta tunnels. Moreover, DWR wants it both ways. They want a water right for to build two tunnels, but they don’t want to tell the public how much that will cost, or what the real water quality impacts will be for the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary. If Secretary Laird, the Department of Water Resources, and the Metropolitan Water District continue touting Delta tunnels fiction as fact, California water management, and consequently California water quality and supply is headed toward a bad end.”