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Water, the Delta and prosperity

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POSTED August 29, 2013 12:09 a.m.

The latest comprehensive economic analysis of the governor’s plan for fixing the state’s aging water system and restoring the environmental health of the Delta estimates that the project will yield roughly $5 billion in net benefits for California residents and preserve more than a million additional jobs over the next 50 years.

Many of those jobs will be in San Joaquin County and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Overall, the benefits of the proposed Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) are projected to generate a net increase of $84 billion in statewide economic activity over the life of the project, and that’s after factoring in the costs of BDCP’s development and operation.

This is great news for a state still recovering from recession. Furthermore, it’s affirmation of the vital role that the wise use of water has played in the prosperity of California and its citizens.

Who are the beneficiaries of BDCP?

Two-thirds of the people who live in California depend to some degree on the water supplies that BDCP would safeguard. These aren’t special interests. They include hard-working families in Glendale, farm workers in Los Banos, computer programmers in the Silicon Valley and car salesmen in San Diego. In a word, they’re our neighbors. And together, we all share a stake in ensuring that the next generation enjoys the same benefits that a clean, reliable water system uniquely provides.

One of the ironies of the current public debate is that BDCP, according to the recent economic report, would have its biggest and most immediate beneficial impact on some of the same communities that are most opposed to the project. This is especially true in the Delta.

Stockton, for example, has filed for bankruptcy. And the rest of San Joaquin County has been especially hard hit by the state’s economic downturn. And yet, while elected officials there continue to lobby against BDCP, the economic analysis shows their communities and the rest of the Delta region would be home to more than 100,000 construction jobs in approximately the first eight years of the project, and more than 1,000 new permanent jobs. (The study defines a job as full employment for an entire year.)

Construction alone will generate nearly $8 billion in employee compensation to California workers. And spending for the construction portion of BDCP will increase California business sales by more than $21 billion.

The study shows there will be costs for the Delta as well, and they are important. There will be transportation delays, for example. And disruptions during construction, along with increases in air pollution and reductions in farm labor as a result of the conversion of some farmlands into wetlands.

But the analysis indicates that these losses will be far outweighed by the massive public investment in the region the BDCP represents. Reductions in property tax revenues as a result of the conversion of agricultural lands will be fully compensated by the state. Restoration and maintenance of the restored habitat areas are anticipated to generate 55,000 jobs – more new jobs than may be lost in agriculture.

Meanwhile, habitat restoration and other enhancements will improve the recreational opportunities in the Delta for fishing, boating, hunting and bird watching by $200 million to $400 million.



Readers should examine the numbers for themselves. The report is available at http://baydeltaconservationplan.com/news/news/13-08-05/BDCP_Draft_Statewide_Economic_Analysis_Released.aspx



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