Ringside: Water Czars Ignore Solutions to Scarcity

via californiaglobe.com

The Delta Tunnel proposal exemplifies California’s political dysfunction. It will probably never get built, but it promises to dominate all discussions of major state and federal spending on water infrastructure for the next decade, preventing any other big ideas from getting the attention they merit.

Like the bullet train and offshore wind, it is a grandiose megaproject that checks all the political boxes while flunking any reasonable cost/benefit analysis. But it creates jobs for California’s construction trades union members at the same time as it manages to keep California’s environmentalist lobby neutral if not actually supportive. Why would anyone take on the state’s all powerful environmentalists if they didn’t have to? And thanks to the remaining environmentalist groups that will oppose the Delta Tunnel no matter what, expect endless litigation.

If the Delta Tunnel is ever completed, say sometime around 2050 or 2060, after costing  — let’s be real  — $30 billion or more (in 2024 dollars) it will move 500,000 acre feet of water per year, which is nothing. California’s farmers require 30 million acre feet per year; its cities, around 8 million acre feet per year. If it gets built, then every year activist regulators and environmentalist litigators will ensure that getting that 500,000 acre feet through the tunnel will be a perennial battle. And they will see to it that to the extent water does flow through the tunnel, comparable amounts of water will no longer be moved using the existing pumps located northwest of Tracy.

All that time. All that money. All that cement! For nothing.