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Tunnels By the Numbers

“I lost track of the number of times I read the words assumed, expected, anticipated or potential funding sources, which seems counter"

Aug 15, 2013

Below are some numbers that might help you understand the BDCP plan to build the massive twin tunnels under the Delta. We assume the people who are supposed to benefit from this are crunching the numbers all the time, but it doesn't look like all the number crunching can give us an estimate of how much an acre foot of water will cost. But, let's see if we have this straight. Both state and federal water users are currently making payments for the infrastructure they are using right now. In addition, they will have to pay on top of that for the new infrastructure that won't be usable for, say, 20-years from now. They are supposed to pay for all this while gettting smaller and smaller amounts of water in the meantime that leaves much of their land fallow. In the Westlands Water District they are also still paying off the purchase of 100,000 acres they bought up so they wouldn't lose even more water because of salinity problems. We hope that all adds up.

Oh, and by the way, State Senator Lois Wolk has proposed a $5.6B water bond that has no money for the tunnels or for any storage anywhere in the state. More about this in a future newsletter, but if this is any indication of how northern lawmakers feel about the tunnels, this is another $4B the users will have to come up with.

Total Cost: $24.54 Billion over 50-year term of the project.

Water Contractors will pay: $17 billion

State and Federal governments: Split the remaining $8 billion

State funding: from future water bonds, including 2014. But, will the bonds pass (will it even be in the bond)?

Federal funding: Even more iffy.

Meaningful quote: “I lost track of the number of times I read the words assumed, expected, anticipated or potential funding sources, which seems counter to what I understand or my definition of assured adequate funding to carry out conservation actions,” said Melinda Terry, North Delta Water Agency.

Capital Costs: $20 billion. Nearly three-quarters of the capital costs are for construction of the new facilities and would be incurred in the first 10 years.

Operating Costs: $107 million per year, adding another $5 billion over the life of the project.

Acquiring, restoring and protecting 100,000 acres for fish and wildlife: 21% of the total, or roughly $5 billion.

Benefits outweigh costs: $4.7 billion.

Water supply reliability: 90% of added benefits.

Water quality: 10% of added benefits.

Seismic benefits: 2-3%. (This is not our math.)

There is still no cost estimate for an acre foot of water.

Meaningful quote: “We have a model of anticipated deliveries,” said Jason Peltier of the Westlands Water District. “Frankly, if we come up on the low end of the range and that’s all the project can produce, I don’t see a sane farmer in the world saying I’m going to pay a whole lot of money for less water than I am getting today. There are fiscal realities that we face. It’s not ‘we’re just going to do it no matter what it costs.’”

Why don't our political leaders have a 'get real' conversation about using existing infrastructure to stop the mess they've allowed to this point from getting even worse!!!


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