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State hides ‘inconvenient’ Twin Tunnel truths

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POSTED September 2, 2013 12:43 a.m.

How can the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) result in a net economic benefit to the Delta region as Gerald Meral claims in his “Water, Delta and prosperity” opinion piece if there are 48 “significant and unavoidable” adverse impacts created in the Delta according to the BDCP’s own environmental analysis documents (EIR/EIS)?  It’s easy if the costs and benefits contained in the economic report released by the California Natural Resources Agency on Aug. 5 are half-baked, one-sided, don’t analyze the economic costs associated with those unavoidable impacts, and reach conclusions that are refuted by the BDCP’s own EIR/EIS.

 “Significant and unavoidable” means the project will damage your home, land, and/or livelihood, but project proponents won’t pay to repair or remediate, so the harmed party must instead absorb the costs – “Sorry Charlie.”  We will never know the economic impact of these BDCP unavoidable adverse impacts because the report fails to analyze or quantify them.  These adverse impacts on the Delta can, and should be fully mitigated, or the project is unacceptable.

The hired economists omitted these 48 “Inconvenient Truths” because they were instructed not to analyze all project components and impacts, but only analyze key assumptions selected by state and federal water project operators and contractors.

Otherwise the report surely would have quantified the economic costs of the impacts listed in the BDCP EIR/EIS such as abandonment of inhabitable homes and businesses because Delta residents can’t access their property, have depleted or degraded irrigation and water well supply, or must live with intense noise and ground shaking from 30,000 steel pile driving strikes every day for weeks, months, and years until the thousands of steel piles are installed.  Most conditions will last for 10-years of construction, but many will be permanent.  This is not co-equal under anyone’s definition and most certainly won’t result in net economic benefits to the Delta.

 The 100,000 construction jobs that Deputy Secretary Meral so proudly touts will not be permanent and those workers will most certainly not be living in the conveyance facilities construction area in the Delta because the BDCP EIR/EIS clearly states in three different chapters that in the construction area businesses will close and residents will likely “abandon their homes” due to noise and vibration of steel pile driving, loss of drinking and irrigation water supply, and extensive construction traffic as well as inability to access, live-in, or farm their parcel/property for up to 10 years. The Sacramento portion of the Delta will look, sound and shake like a war zone during the 10-year BDCP occupation.

If you want to believe the BDCP isn’t a boondoggle then don’t read the entire list of 614 environmental resource impacts in the EIR/EIS or Effects Analysis showing BDCP will create the following conditions in the North Delta:  reverse flows (Georgiana Slough and Delta Cross Channel); unnatural unidirectional instead of tidal flows (Sutter and Steamboat Sloughs); increased fish predation; and require installation of temporary barriers due to lowering of Sacramento River elevations by at least 3-feet. Sound familiar?  That’s right – these are the same problems created by CVP/SWP pumps in the South Delta that have resulted in reduced export deliveries and Biological Opinions with pumping restrictions.  BDCP duplicates the existing problems attributed to operations of existing CVP/SWP facilities, but that’s not analyzed or quantified in the cost-benefit report either.

These inaccuracies and omissions in the latest BDCP so-called economic analysis suggest, at best, a failure to prepare the economic report in accordance with standard benefit-cost analysis practices and, at worst, a conscious effort by governmental agencies to skew the facts to assure the benefits will appear to exceed the economic costs.  To earn Delta trust, State and Federal agencies must first tell the whole story, even the unpleasant “inconvenient truths,” not hide from them.  Zero Delta Benefits = Zero Chance of Success.

Melinda Terry, Manager

North Delta Water Agency

Sacramento

Aug. 28, 2013

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