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Twin Tunnels to Open in 2038!

"Though critics of the plan say it will be more like 20 or 25 years by the time money is obtained and lawsuits are settled."

Jul 24, 2013

Check this out. According to this article in the Livermore Independent that is mostly about desalination, which we are very much in favor of, by the way, there is also an interesting paragraph about the twin tunnels project of the BDCP.

"Whether new technology would arrive soon enough to avoid construction of the tunnels is another matter. Gov. Jerry Brown's twin tunnel plans have been estimated to take about 10 years, though critics of the plan say it will be more like 20 or 25 years by the time money is obtained and lawsuits are settled."

Can anyone in a State or Federal leadership position say anything about a short-term solution?

Tech Advances May Make Desalination More Prevalent

Livermore Independent

Research into improving desalination of sea water has seen two promising developments that might significantly reduce the cost of the process, according to their researchers.

Putting water on a competitive basis with the current water supply could be a boon in California, which is short of water in some years.


Some have even suggested cheap desalination could remove the need to build the proposed twin tunnels in the Delta, which are part of the State Water Project (SWP). The Valley is served by the SWP through Zone 7 Water Agency.


As yet, research is still ongoing into various ways to enhance desalination.


A technology developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is based on carbon nanotubes, which are special molecules made of carbon atoms in a unique arrangement. They allow liquids and gases to rapidly flow through, while the tiny pore size can block larger molecules, offering a cheaper way to remove salt from water.


The process was licensed in 2009 to a firm begun by Olgica Bakajin. She was part of the Lab's research team that discovered the process.


Bakajin left LLNL to found her own company, Porifera, which is located in Hayward. She obtained licensing from LLNL to use the method in manufacturing the filtration product, said company vice president Jeffrey Mendelssohn.


Mendelssohn said that research so far indicates that the membranes "appear to be 10 times better than commercially available membranes."


More filter efficiency can reduce costs dramatically, because less power would be used to filter more water. However, another consideration is the cost of buying the equipment. It's not clear what the cost would be.


The new process is still in research. Mendelssohn estimated it could be another five years before it would be ready to go to market.


Further, it may take another five years for the water industry to try it out. The water industry wants to test them "for a very long time," perhaps five years, said Mendelssohn. "If you have to tweak the process in year one, you have to start all over again," said Mendelssohn.


Lockheed Martin's product still in research is called Perforene. It works in a somewhat similar way, and uses graphene. The company says that it is strong and durable, and more effective than standard reverse osmosis systems. It is projected to be more effective at sea water desalination, making its use a fraction of the cost of industry-standard reverse osmosis systems.


Scott Lusk, a spokesman for Lockheed Martin, said that the firm is working with other companies in terms of developing the project. He said it's not possible to set a date right now for when it might be on the market.


Another desalination method has also been developed at the Lab. Flow-through electrode capacitive desalination uses a new hierarchical porous carbon material to create a way for the feed stream to pass directly through the electrodes, resulting in significant improvements to salt removal and desalination rate.


"By leveraging innovative porous carbon materials recently developed at LLNL, our new method removes the diffusion limitations afflicting traditional CD cells. The desalination process now only takes as long as it takes to charge the electrodes, on the order of minutes or less," said Matthew Suss, a Lawrence scholar and first author of a recent paper in Energy & Environmental Science. "The new method currently removes salt five to 10 times faster than previous CD systems, and can be further optimized for increased speed. It also reduces the concentration of the feed up to three times as much per charge."


If the new methods are superior to current desalination, and bring down operation costs for desalination without having prohibitive price tags on plant equipment, it could provide a new fresh water source for California.


Whether new technology would arrive soon enough to avoid construction of the tunnels is another matter. Gov. Jerry Brown's twin tunnel plans have been estimated to take about 10 years, though critics of the plan say it will be more like 20 or 25 years by the time money is obtained and lawsuits are settled.


Jeffrey Michael, who teaches economics at University of the Pacific in Stockton, has weighed in on the dispute over the Delta tunnels, siding with Delta residents who oppose them.


Michael says on his UOP blog that old technology has been abandoned in other areas of public policy. He says, "I am confident that we will have game-changing technological advances before climate change and natural disasters hit California in a large way."


Michael singles out the Lockeeh Martin process as an example of the future coming to help with a solution.


Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta, said that desalination would not even be needed to eliminate the tunnels from contention. There are enough other measures, such as more underground water storage, a massive campaign to store run-off rainwater, and greater water recycling efforts could offset the need to do anything more to the Delta, she said.


Jill Duerig, general manager of Zone 7 Water Agency, said that any shortcomings in current desalination technology are not driving the decision for the twin tunnels project. "It is a combination of factors creating an ecosystem in crisis due to multiple stressors including water conveyance through the Delta, invasive species, and regional development."


Duerig also mentioned a loss of water availability due to seismic vulnerabilities, environmental regulations, permit restrictions and climate change.

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