A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

[LINK] “The Drought Isn’t California’s Only Water Problem”

Wired‘s Nick Stockton reports on yet another aspect of California’s worsening and apparently structural drought.

[A]llow me to divert your attention to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, a massive estuary to the east of the San Francisco Bay that is the heart of a story that will at least explain why you’ll never get a satisfying explanation.

Actually, it’s not about the Delta, exactly; the real story is 200 feet below it, where the governor of the Golden State wants to dig huge tunnels that will make it easier for southern California to get northern California’s water.

Officially known as Conservation Measure 1 of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan—but commonly known as the Delta Tunnels—the idea is to dig two 35-mile tunnels, each 40 feet in diameter and capable of pumping 67,000 gallons of water per second from the Sacramento River to the California Aqueduct. The tunnels are supposed to fix the plumbing that delivers water to two-thirds of the state: every coastal city from San Francisco to San Diego, and millions of farms along the way. The plan is controversial, and has been in talks for a decade. If approved, the tunnels would take about ten years and an estimated $25 billion dollars to build.

[. . . C]onsider that this massive public works project—which will be paid for by all who drink from it—is not a response to the four-years-and-running drought. It’s just the latest attempt to solve a problem that has vexed the state for well over a century: how to move water so it satisfies all of California’s demands and desires.

Here’s where things get interesting. In an effort to push forward, last week Governor Jerry Brown announced that he was scuttling key environmental provisions that would have guaranteed that the tunnels and works associated with them would improve the Delta for 50 years into the future. “We can’t accurately model what things are going to look like in 50 years,” says Richard Stapler, a spokesman for the California Natural Resources Agency.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 20, 2015 at 9:51 pm

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