Home Delta Restore the Delta: BDCP Proposal “Fatally Flawed”

Restore the Delta: BDCP Proposal “Fatally Flawed”

by ECT

Restore the Delta put out a nice Press Release yesterday with a nice summary of their Delta Experts Briefing on May 11, 2012. While the summary and audio may be old, it’s timely considering the draft Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) that was recently released.

Before I get to the Press Release, I want to pull out some of the information  from the 48-minute audio discussion that I found very interesting and make a lot of sense against a canal being built.

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Deltaspoke at the (32:50) and made some nice points. She stated Restore the Delta is opposed to the BDCP plan and peripheral canal because it’s too expensive and proposes to ship millions of acre feet of water that do not exist. Drains the delta and floods prime delta farmland to make up for habitat loss.

“We cannot fix that communities problem by destroying our own,” stated Barrigan-Parrilla.

Within the audio, some of her high points included, Economic Sustainability published by the Delta Protection Commission shows that a more modest investment of $1-2 billion will bring levees up to robust standards and protecting water for the stat.

Most important point she wanted to leave people with is that the delta is durable and sustainable. It is a jewel in the rough and it definitely needs some polishing. What the delta needs to become that polished gem is restored water flow and levee improvements.

According to Barrigan-Parrilla, she informed me last night that after the Governor’s announcement on the July 25th, new audio will be made live.

I want to bring attention to the discussion by Dr. Jeff Michael who had the best points of the entire audio. While the Press Release hit on it briefly, I thought he gave the most concrete reasons against a peripheral canal.

  • The Draft BDCP document said to finance would be $1.1 billion over 40-years paid back by rate payers plus $100 million in operating costs.
  • Cost is about $1,000 to $1,200 per acre foot which gets water to Tracy. Still needs to get exported after that. This cost is comparable to desalination and more expensive than water recycling and conservation.
  • The problem with funding this project according to Dr. Michael is a vast majority of the water from the Delta goes to agriculture. This means that in the end, the cost of financing costs far exceed value of crops grown for it. It’s not affordable for agriculture use. This means their will need to be some sort of cross subsidy of urban rate papers and taxpayers—no details have been released on this tax.
  • Earthquake used as an example as to why a canal is needed. It’s Important to understand the economics of a Delta earthquake. Claim is it’s a $40 million disaster to flood 10-30 Delta islands. People need to understand the content of that $40 million disaster.
    • The State study says water exports are only 20% of that disaster scenario while 80% is in other Delta loss including infrastructure such as highways and roads—which is not protected by a peripheral canal. Water exports are less than 2% of cost of flood scenarios.
    • Water experts are less than 0% of loss of life in the scenario. None of this is in economic calculation. Same study says levee upgrades have higher economic benefit cost ratios than a canal at a rate of $4 billion vs. $14 billion canal.
    • Bottom line, a canal does not solve Earthquake risk in the Delta as its much more than water and water is just a very small part of it.

Below is a graphic of the proposed plan along with the Restore the Delta Press Release.

(Click to Enlarge)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Contact: Steve Hopcraft 916/457-5546 [email protected]; Twitter: @shopcraft;

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla 209/479-2053 [email protected]; @RestoretheDelta


Water Exporters Control Process, Costs Far Outweigh Benefits, Would Exterminate Salmon, Drain Delta for Special Interests

SACRAMENTO – A panel of experts today presented the case against building Peripheral Tunnels to export Sacramento/San Joaquin/San Francisco Bay Delta water mainly to benefit unsustainable mega-farms on the west side of the Central Valley. Dr. Jeffrey Michael, director of the Eberhardt Business Forecasting Center at the University of the Pacific, told news media representatives that his benefit cost analysis, the only one conducted to date, found that the project the governor is expected to announce next week would cost $2.50 in cost for every $1 in benefits, a total of $7 billion in cost above benefits.

Jonas Minton of the Planning and Conservation League analyzed a draft of the proposed project that was circulated yesterday by the administration. Mr. Minton said, “The administration’s proposal fails to incorporate what’s now the overwhelming scientific consensus that fish in the Estuary need more fresh water. The proposal includes virtually nothing about the need for adequate freshwater inflows and outflows. Even though the number of intakes has been reduced from 5 to 3, the total amount of water that can be pumped from the Delta is virtually the same. In this proposal, water exporters have key control over hiring, budget, science program, and even a veto power over improvements to biological goals and objectives. Decisions on how much water would be pumped would be made only after tens of billions of dollars are spent on the intakes and tunnels. Pressure would be unstoppable to over-pump the Delta. There is no funding for the habitat restoration. There is no cost-benefit analysis for this project that would cost taxpayers and water customers in the tens of billions of dollars.”

Bill Jennings, executive director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, said, “BDCP is a recipe for ecological disaster. California is in a water crisis because the State has over-promised, over-allocated, wasted and inequitably distributed scarce water resources. The Delta is in a biological meltdown because the estuary has been deprived of more than half of its historical water flow; its hydrograph has been turned on its head and its waterways used as sewers. This project threatens the collapse of Delta and longfin smelt; American and threadfin shad; split tail; Fall, late-Fall, Winter and Spring runs of salmon; steelhead, green and white sturgeon, striped and large mouth bass; as well the lower tropic levels that comprise the food chain. BDCP is predicated on taking more water from or around the estuary. And taking more water from it cannot restore an ecosystem that is hemorrhaging because of a lack of flow. The National Research Council, the Independent Science Board, NGO scientists and the fishery agencies agree that the project would hasten extinction rather than restoring species. Faced with overwhelming criticism, BDCP went back to the drawing boards and came forth with the desperate idea of building it now and figuring out how to operate it later. As presently outlined, BDCP is not a path to restoration – it’s a death sentence for one of the world’s great estuaries.”

Kristin Lynch, Pacific Region Director for Food & Water Watch, said, “Resource that should be kept under public control for the public good. This project would cost tens of billions of dollars to give ever-increasing amounts of taxpayer and ratepayer subsidized water to corporate agriculture and real estate developers to make millions in profits. It is the ultimate fleecing of ratepayers and taxpayers. This is not the only way to secure reliable water for southern California. There are many 21st century alternative means by which we can ensure reliable drinking water that are cost effective, create local jobs, are environmentally sound and would permanently reduce the need for water to be imported and would not cost LA rate payers alone between $2.5 – 16 billion in rate increases.”

“The governor and Obama administration will announce the largest public works project in our history,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta. “Why the rush to build a project that would exterminate salmon runs, destroy sustainable family farms and saddle taxpayers with tens of billions in debt, mainly to benefit a small number of huge corporate agribusinesses on the west side of the Central Valley?”

Restore the Delta Website
Note: on their website, you can also link to the 48-minute audio and see additional information on this topic.

Bay Delta Conservation Plan website

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JimSimmons42 Jul 19, 2012 - 1:45 pm

I just listened to the audio, the fact we can upgrade the levees at a much cheaper rate than a canal was the deal breaker for me. Why is this option not being promoted to the entire state? Whoever is fighting the canal needs to do a better job at selling the facts against it.

Restore the Delta: July 25 State Capital Rally | East County Today Jul 21, 2012 - 4:25 am

[…] their are better options than a canal in terms of cost which Restore the Delta stated May 11, 2012. I listened to their audio summarized the key points. Its stunning to me how the Governor can even continue to push this project when its significantly […]

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