Archive for the 'Economics of the BDCP' Category

Santa Clara Water Users Foot the Bill

Who will foot the bill for continued planning for the Delta Tunnels? Not who you think. Santa Clara Valley Water rate payers (and no others) will be subsidizing Jerry Brown’s boondoggle to help Big Ag plant more and more almond orchards. If you don’t already know it, the Delta Tunnels will devastate Delta communities, farms, and fish, primarily to benefit Big Ag.

Driving down I-5 yesterday, I was astounded to see all of the new plantings for orchards on both sides of the highway, as far as the eye can see. During the four years during the drought, the acres of almond orchards continued to increase, as did profits from selling almonds to Asia. More money year after year. (The ones who lost were the poor communities in the Central Valley who saw the ground water they relied on for drinking and showering become polluted or even dried up.)

If you live in Santa Clara Valley, you may be the ones paying for the Delta Tunnels! The tunnel construction project will devastate the waterways in the Delta and end result will be stagnant, polluted water in the Delta so that the fresh water can be diverted to grow more almonds in the desert lands in the Central Valley. This project makes no sense, mainly benefits the big corporate growers, and will devastate communities in the Delta. Communities like Discovery Bay will be destroyed. The ripple effects will destroy the entire Delta estuary and pollute the San Francisco Bay.

That’s right! If you live in or near the following cities, you may be a ratepayer funding Governor Brown’s Delta Tunnel boondoggle: Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos, Milpitas, Morgan Hill, Mountain View, Palo Alto, San Jose (especially in Alviso), Santa Clara, Saratoga, Sunnyvale.

What will you get out of this deal? Not more water. The promise of the tunnels is to extract the fresher water further north from the Sacramento River, water that has not been polluted by the Central Valley farm runoff like the San Joaquin currently is. So Metropolitan Water District (that serves LA), Santa Clara, and other water districts would get access to the cleaner water and would have less filtering to do to make it available as drinking water. Do you think you, the rate payers, will then get reduced water rates? Actually, it’s more likely your water district will increase rates due to these tunnel costs and pocket any cost reductions they realize in the future.

Please contact your Santa Clara Valley Water District Board Member and let them know of your opposition to funding for more planning of CA WaterFix (the Delta tunnels). Let them know of your disappointment in backroom deals and resolutions that contradict state Board policy to the public.Let them know of your disappointment in backroom deals and resolutions that contradict state Board policy to the public.

According to the latest meeting materials from the San Luis Delta-Mendota Water Authority (SLDMWA), it appears that Santa Clara Valley Water District was the only Delta-Mendota member agency that voted to provide the Department of Water Resources with additional funding for the Planning Phase of California WaterFix. This after Santa Clara Valley Water District Board Members have stated at public meetings that they were not going forward with CA WaterFix planning until a finance plan was made available for the project and after further public discussion.

The Delta-Mendoza Water Agency had $4.26M of existing debt financing that had not been used, yet, all the other member Agencies apparently would not agree to use their share of that money for continued planning costs, which means urban ratepayers are paying for the Delta tunnels planning costs for Big Ag water districts.

Please let your Board member know that you object to Santa Clara Valley Water District ratepayers paying for Delta tunnels planning costs for big agricultural water districts like Westlands Water District — which has a history of literally getting other government agencies to pay their way.

Send your comments to:

  • John L. Varela – District 1 and 2017 Chair:
  • Barbara Keegan, Director – District 2:
  • Richard P. Santos, Director – District 3 and 2017 Vice Chair:,
  • Linda J. LeZotte, Director – District 4:
  • Nai Hsueh, Director – District 5:
  • Tony Estremera, Director – District 6:
  • Gary Kremen, Director – District 7:

Thanks to our friends at Restore the Delta for alerting us to this issue.

State Economic Plan’s Factual Flaw

This Letter to the Editor from Jerry Cadagan (copied below) should be published in every newspaper in the state:

Paul Burgarino’s article about Gov. Brown’s economic study of his Peripheral Tunnels project (“Study: Delta tunnels would net $5 billion benefit,” Aug. 6) includes many reasons to question the professionalism of the economic work, including unfounded assumptions about the amount of water to be delivered, and uncertainty regarding needed voter-approved bond funding for portions of the project.
Those problems alone should doom the proposed project.

But there is a major factual flaw that is bound to sink prospects for the tunnels project. Twice in the study, it is explicitly stated that “the state and federal water contractors have committed to funding 100 percent of the construction and operation of ” the tunnels.

In coming up with all the rosy economic predictions, the study authors must have assumed those contactors would pay the $16.3 billion involved. The problem is simply that the quoted language is flat wrong; the water contractors have not committed to pay those costs. The study results are meaningless, given that major fault.

And if the state and federal water contractors (many of them being south-of-Delta mega agri-business firms) don’t pay the $16.3 billion in construction and operating costs, who do you suppose will end up paying them? Look no further; just go to the nearest mirror.

Jerry Cadagan

Ludicrous State Economic Plan

Local Contra Costa County residents were infuriated to read the “Local News” front page headline in Tuesday’s Contra Costa Times that blared “Tunnels may be lucrative”.

The headline should have read “Tunnels may be ludicrous“. The slanted State Economic Report just released is easy to pick apart yet the Delta local newspaper aids in spreading the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) marketing hype.

BDCP economist, David Sundling, continues to try to make 2 – 2 = 4. Sunding continues to use “new economic activity” numbers based on Westland’s inflated agriculture numbers and other unjustifiable benefits. He does not subtract the negative impacts that the tunnels will cause to Delta communities due to the loss of boating and recreation among other impacts.

Gene Beley writes in detail about the numerous serious impacts that will occur up and down the Delta, a heartbreaking “must read”.

Although it seems obvious to Delta users that construction activity and loss of waterways would cause huge economic loss to marinas and marina-based businesses, home values, and property values, these losses are not adequately considered in Sundling’s analysis.

The BDCP claims these marinas “can still operate … ” Untrue. Those marinas will not be able to maintain operations. Boaters will move their boats to unaffected marinas; visitors won’t come to camp and eat at restaurants during construction where they will view tunnel muck trucks 24×7 and to listen to construction noise. Boaters won’t keep their boats at marinas where boating and recreation activity is blocked or greatly reduced. In Sundling’s economic analysis though, because the marinas “can still operate”, there is apparently no economic loss.

They admit that “Impacts on water‐based recreation (water‐skiing, wakeboarding, tubing) in these areas [the South Delta] would be long‐term and therefore considered significant and unavoidable.” The mitigation plan is to improve Brannan Island State Park and/or The Meadows (both in the north). Because of the BDCP Plan for “mitigation” in the north, they can count it as no net loss and can make up their own numbers about how many people will flood to the North Delta for bird watching and boating.

Since Discovery Bay (DB) young people can’t take their boats to Brannan Island after school or on weekends, due to fewer waterways, traffic will increase and with it more accidents and risk. Then people will move away. Communities will suffer huge economic losses. I haven’t seen any of this in Sunding’s economic analysis.

South Delta Now   Impacts2
Boating & Recreation Now:
Small boating near Discovery Bay and from Mildred Anchorage (red circles) and anchorages (blue circle)
  South Delta Impacts:
Loss of small boat recreation; almost no local anchorage sites. (Mildred will have construction blockages to the West, muck ponds.).

On the other side of the coin, the agriculture numbers are based on having an infinite supply of water even though the contracts already are for more water than exists in the Delta. Time and time again we’ve seen reports of the economic benefits of agriculture in the Central Valley that time and time again the legislature or independent economists have proven to be false.

According to Sunding, there is a “benefit” in the state’s report of making the Delta home to nearly 180,000 temporary new jobs, which will be full time but for one year only. Does the Delta have the roads and infrastructure for these workers? Is there a real benefit to the state in creating 180,000 temporary one-year jobs while taking away nearly 37,000 farm jobs, loss of marinas, and closure of recreation access resulting in abandoned homes?

The article even throws in a statement that the plan would preserve “the long-term economic vitality of the state [including] the defense industry, technology in Silicon Valley,” even though the plan does not provide one drop of additional water or reliability for urban users in Silicon Valley or LA.

Adam Scow, of Food & Water Watch seems correct when he says: “They’re either deliberately cooking the books or refusing to do a real cost analysis. It’s a misappropriation of taxpayer resources.”

Why did the State Release an Economic Plan?

The reason is on page 2 of the Contra Costa Times article: “Brown administration officials pointed out that Monday’s study is not required; rather it is part of the extensive research being undertaking in designing the plan, informing the public and helping guide policy makers.”

Isn’t that just another way of saying the release of this State Economic Plan was timed for and it’s total purpose was marketing? It was produced to sway public opinion into thinking the tunnels will be good for the state instead of only for the handful of powerful agribusiness corporations who will truly benefit? To sway legislators throughout the state that they can have a little pork through “mitigation” projects if they just drop their opposition and let the tunnels go through?

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta, was quoted with her answer: “It’s the purest piece of propaganda they’ve come out with yet.”

While the newspaper where the damage will be done’s headlines blare how “lucrative” the tunnels will be, a more balanced title was today’s Sacramento Bee: Study Touting Economic Boon of Delta water tunnels draws criticism. I also like mine.

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