20 Jul 2008

Peripheral Canal

PPIC has recommended [PDF] building a Peripheral Canal to convey water around the Sacramento Delta to aqueducts that take water to Southern California [story; prior posts].

I remember the 1982 defeat of a ballot initiative to build the canal. Although the engineering of the canal was sound, Northern Californians just couldn't stand the idea of building an "express" lane for water exports to Southern California.

The PC is back because the current method of sending water south (big pumps pulling water from the Delta) is killing too many fish, especially endangered ones. A judge has already ordered that the pumps be shut off now and then to stop that killing. A PC would reduce the kill attributed to exports.

So, is the PC going to be built? Yes, if people are really trying to increase the efficiency exports to SoCal; no, if they are using the fish kills as a way of preventing exports of "our" water to "them."

Bottom Line: I am in favor of the PC because it makes the system work better. There are better ways to resolve issues with water exports (e.g., negotiations) than using lawsuits to protect fish.

hattip to DW


  1. The rationale of the peripheral canal is richer than "fish or farms" (which would be rich enough!). Given subsidence due to oxidation of peat combined with sea level rise, the land and canal structure of the Delta is at increasing risk. The levees could readily fail in the event of a high tide, lots of rain, and a modest earthquake. If they failed, water would take a new path to the sea and could lose interest in availing itself to the pumps at Tracy. Fish would do ok, but our statemates in SoCal could be dry out of luck.

  2. Completely agree -- sorry I left off the levees!

  3. And if we don't plan and engineer a proper conveyance now, but wait for the disaster to strike, we will end up with some "permanent emergency" (think TSA and the Waw on Terra) fix that will never be changed. Sensible environmentalists realize this canal is a necessity.
    Having a majority of our State's population out of water and out of work within a few days is not even halfway funny; anyone who thinks sensible environmental decisions will be made in that atmosphere needs to stop smoking wacky weed.


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